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What is the Tech Nation Visa?
The Tech Nation Visa enables the brightest and best tech talent from around the world to come and work in the UK’s digital technology sector, contributing their cutting-edge expertise, creativity and innovation to maintaining the UK’s position at the forefront of the global digital economy.
Tech Nation has been designated by the Home Office to endorse applications for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa in digital technology. If you’re exceptionally talented or show exceptional promise and want to work in the UK’s digital technology sector, the Tech Nation Visa can help you do this.
Tech Nation Visa in numbers
Who are they?
As Tech Nation celebrates 1000 endorsed Visas, you can read more about the people behind the numbers, their amazing stories and incredible achievements on our Visa Wall of Fame.
Note the following changes to Tech Nation Visa guidance effective from 1st October 2019:
- Letters of Recommendation: Applicants will be required to provide three Letters of Recommendation, increasing from the previous requirement to supply two letters. The format of the letters will remain the same.
- Fast Tracks: Only the Accelerator Participant fast track will remain, all other fast track options have been removed. Note that fast tracks only affect application processing times and not applicant eligibility.
The above changes will be applied to any application submitted after 1st October. Any application submitted prior to this date will be assessed under the previous guidance.
Key benefits of the Tech Nation Visa
• For employees and founders
• Technical & business backgrounds
• Exceptional Talent & Promise routes depending on experience
• For all tech sub-sectors (i.e. fintech, AI, cyber, games, etc.)
• Visa granted for up to 5 years and 4 months
• Dependants allowed subject to requirements
Applications are assessed by an independent panel of experts against the Eligibility Criteria in our Guide. There are two routes available to cater for different levels of experience:
Exceptional Talent: proven to be a recognised leader
Exceptional Promise: proven to be an emerging leader
Check your eligibility in the Tech Nation Visa Guide above.
Tech Nation cannot advise on eligibility or likelihood of endorsement. Please refer to the Guidance.
The application process is in 2 stages:
Stage 1: Application for Endorsement – up to 8 weeks to be processed.
Stage 2: Application for Visa – up to 3 weeks out of country and 8 weeks in country.
See The Application Process for more detail.
3. Conditions of the Tech Nation Visa
This visa can be granted for up to 5 years for applications made from inside the UK, or 5 years and 4 months for applications from outside the UK.
Applicants can be eligible for Settlement under this visa route. The qualifying period depends on whether your visa is granted under either the criteria for Exceptional Talent (3 years) or Exceptional Promise (5 years).
The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa allows you to work and change employers, or be self-employed, without the need for further authorisation or to be sponsored for employment in a specific post.
Dependants are allowed subject to requirements.
Stage 1: £456*
Stage 2: £152*
*Please note that this does not include additional administrative costs such as your BRP enrolment fee and NHS surcharge.
The Application Process
Stage 1: Application for Endorsement
This is your application for endorsement by Tech Nation, who will assess whether you qualify for this visa route under Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise and will provide the Home Office with our recommendation.
Step 1: You must first apply to the Home Office for endorsement by Tech Nation.
Step 2: You then need to complete the Tech Nation Visa application form. You can save and return to your application at any time before submitting. After submitting you will not be able to amend or provide additional documents.
At this stage, you will have to wait to hear directly from the Home Office on whether you have been endorsed by Tech Nation. The Stage 1 process can take approximately 8 weeks.
Tech Nation cannot advise on your application status.
If your application is not endorsed you have three options:
- Apply for a review – Tech Nation will reassess your application based on your review form provided by the Home Office. Further details can be found on the Home Office website.
- Start a new application with the Home Office and submit a new Tech Nation application form with new evidence.
- Apply for a different visa route.
Stage 2: Application for Immigration
If you are successful in receiving endorsement, you will receive an email from the Home Office with a copy of your endorsement letter. You will need these for your Stage 2 visa application.
- You must apply for your visa within 3 months of receiving your letter of endorsement from the Home Office.
- You won’t automatically get a visa just by being endorsed, you must also be successful in your Stage 2 visa application.
- You can apply for a visa duration up to a maximum of 5 years and 4 months if you apply from outside the UK or 5 years if you apply from within the UK.
- Tech Nation is not involved with Stage 2 and cannot provide advice.
Tech Nation Visa partners support our applicants and alumni:
The below legal firms sponsor our visa scheme. If you would like a referral to one of these firms please contact us using the ‘Help’ button below and clearly state which firm you wish to contact. If you do not state a preference, we will automatically allocate your enquiry to one of the firms based on current demand. Tech Nation is unable to advise which legal firm you should consult.
- Kemp Little is recognised as the go-to technology and digital-focused law firm in the UK, acting across the technology and digital spectrum for some of the market-leading, most innovative and fastest growing businesses in the UK – and the people that drive them forward.
- The firm has a dedicated technology-focused immigration practice, with an extremely successful record acting for applicants who are and will become the movers and shakers in the technology sector.
- The immigration team offers complimentary consultations, followed by the reassurance of fixed fees, working closely and in partnership with clients to provide an excellent and cost-effective service.
- Lewis Silkin is an expert but friendly and pragmatic immigration practice, highly ranked in the legal directories. In particular, Naomi Hanrahan-Soar is “experienced in advising high-net-worth individuals, as well as corporate clients, particularly in the science, technology and engineering sectors.”
- The firm is a full-service law firm with high-level awards across multiple practice areas. They have extensive expertise in supporting rapid growth tech companies from startup to unicorn in all aspects of the legal journey.
- They have various service offerings in order to find the right solution for your business. Speak with them for a free initial consultation in order to create the right solutions for you.
- Kingsley Napley’s top ranked immigration team has been at the forefront of UK immigration law for over 20 years. Recognised as experts in their field, they consult with the Home Office and actively lobby for their clients’ interests. They regularly advise technology businesses and individuals on all aspects of UK immigration.
- As a full service firm, Kingsley Napley can advise on key corporate legal issues faced by fast-growing tech businesses, including investment rounds, data protection, intellectual property rights, employment issues, and exits.
- They can discuss the best immigration solution for you and offer fixed fees to assist with financial planning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there are any documents that can help with my application?
Yes, all applicants should carefully review the Guide for Tech Nation Visa on our website above, as well as the official Guidance from Home Office for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.
Am I eligible to apply for the Tech Nation Visa?
As each application for endorsement is assessed by an independent panel of experts, Tech Nation cannot advise on the eligibility of individual applicants or the likelihood of their endorsement.
We invite potential candidates to refer to the Guide for the Tech Nation Visa, in particular the section on Endorsement Criteria, and consider whether and how they meet this criteria. Tech Nation cannot provide advice beyond that contained in this document.
Is this visa right for me?
Each potential applicant is best placed to assess whether the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is right for them, dependant on their circumstances. Tech Nation cannot advise on the suitability of the Tech Nation Visa to individual applicants’ circumstances beyond that contained in the Guidance.
What is the application process?
A full overview of the application process can be found in the Guide for Tech Nation Visa. Further information, including information on cost, can be found on the Home Office website.
Do I need a job offer to be eligible?
No, you don’t. However, you will need to include a concrete plan of what you’ll be doing once you are in the UK and how you intend to contribute to the growth of the UK’s digital economy.
As part of your application form, you will be asked to submit a personal statement of up to 1000 words in length which can include details on how you intend to contribute to the growth of the UK’s digital economy, and this will play an important role in the assessment of your application.
I am currently in the UK on a different visa, can I switch to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa?
You can apply to switch to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa if you are already in the UK on Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 5 (Temporary worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa.
All information on switching to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa can be found on the Home Office website.
How long does it take to be endorsed?
The Home Office advises that Stage 1 of the application process (i.e. the application to be endorsed) for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa can take up to eight weeks from the time the Home Office receives your application.
Within these eight weeks, Tech Nation has up to 25 working days to review your application. For applications eligible for one of the fast track options, Tech Nation will make a recommendation on endorsement to the Home Office within 18 working days.
Please note that even if your application is endorsed, you must still complete Stage 2 of the application process for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa (i.e. the application for the visa itself). The Home Office advises that Stage 2 of the application process can take up to three weeks if applying from outside of the UK, and up to eight weeks if applying from within the UK.
What is Exceptional Promise?
The Exceptional Promise route is intended for applicants who are able to demonstrate the potential to become a leader in the field of digital technology.
Applicants who choose to apply via this route are often individuals who are at the start of their careers in digital technology, and so may not have the same levels of experience as someone who applies under the Exceptional Talent option.
Exceptional Promise applicants will need to demonstrate the potential to be a leader in digital technology through their skills and/or achievements thus far.
Please note that Tech Nation cannot advise potential applicants on whether they should apply for the Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise route.
Can I be endorsed for Exceptional Promise if I apply to the Tech Nation Visa via the Exceptional Talent route?
Applying for endorsement via Exceptional Talent does not preclude you from endorsement under Exceptional Promise should you meet the necessary criteria; likewise, applying under the Exceptional Promise route does not preclude you from endorsement for Exceptional Talent.
In all cases, Tech Nation experts will establish whether you meet the necessary criteria to be endorsed for Exceptional Talent or for Exceptional Promise.
Please note that the qualifying period for Settlement (ILR) depends on whether your visa is granted under either the criteria for Exceptional Talent (three years required) or Exceptional Promise (five years required). Therefore if your application is endorsed under a different route than you applied (Talent or Promise), it will affect your qualifying period for Settlement. Further information can be in the official Guidance for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa Home Office website.
Can Tech Nation advise me on my application or my supporting documents prior to submission?
We are unable to review your documents prior to submission. Please ensure that you read the Guide for Tech Nation Visa document carefully. Sending your application to Tech Nation before submission will not increase your chances of endorsement and may delay your application being processed.
What type of evidence should I submit to meet the mandatory and qualifying criteria?
Please refer to the Guide for Tech Nation Visa for examples of the types of supporting documents that can be included as evidence as part of your application. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and that you are free to provide documentation which is not listed if you feel it is better suited.
Tech Nation is unable to advise on the suitability of applicants’ supporting documents ahead of their application being submitted for review. Individual applicants are best placed to identify which documentation demonstrates their skills in the best possible way.
What types of recommendation letters should I provide?
Please refer to the Guide for Tech Nation Visa for more information on what to include in the Letters of Recommendation. Note that the Guide provides a suggested format and there is no strict template. Please ensure that your Letters of Recommendation are in line with the guidance and on an official letter-headed document where possible.
Please ensure that these letters are as detailed as possible with regard to your skills / work and how you are known to your referee. The more detail that is provided the better in determining why your referees believe you meet the criteria for Exceptional Talent / Promise.
How do I demonstrate continuous learning?
The continuous learning criteria is less about the workshops and seminars you have attended and more about the types of skills that you have developed through courses or programmes you have undertaken. For example, submitting evidence of attendance at seminars can be fine, but you would be required to also demonstrate what you have learned and how you have developed your skill set as well. It is up to each applicant to decide how best they can demonstrate this.
Where do I send my application?
The application process for Stage 1 is completely online, you do not need to physically post any documents. To submit your application, you must first apply to the Home Office for endorsement by Tech Nation. Once you have completed this Home Office application, you must then complete a Tech Nation Visa application form. You can save and return to your application at any time before submitting. After submitting you will not be able to amend or provide additional documents.
At this stage, you will have to wait to hear directly from the Home Office on whether you have been endorsed by Tech Nation. Tech Nation cannot advise on your application status.
How do I track the progress of my application?
You will receive an update from the Home Office on when your payment has been processed and again when Tech Nation has been notified of your application. Tech Nation will not provide you with an update directly as all correspondence must go via the Home Office.For queries relating to the Home Office’s processing of applications, please email: email@example.com.
Does the Tech Nation Visa have any restrictions based on nationality?
There are no nationality-based restrictions for the Tech Nation Visa, which is open to all non-EEA citizens. More information is available on the Home Office website.