Incase you don’t know, the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa allows highly skilled individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts, fashion and digital technology to come work, create and live in the UK in order to boost the UK’s economy and cultural life.
To get a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, you need to apply to be endorsed as a leader (exceptional talent) or emerging leader (exceptional promise) by one of these bodies:
- The Royal Society, for science and medicine
- The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering
- The British Academy, for humanities
- Tech Nation, for digital technology
- Arts Council England, for arts and culture
I was very fortunate to have been endorsed by Tech Nation in 2017 and since my endorsement and move to the UK, I have made it a point of duty to create posts like these on topics surrounding the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa with the sole aim of providing value to current applicants, potential applicants and people who don’t even know this visa route exists.
The reason for this is because when I was planning to apply back in 2017, I didn’t find a lot of information from a successful applicant, most of the information were from consultants and law firms, I wanted to hear from someone who had done it, not people with just theories.
Since I started blogging about this very interesting and special visa, I have answered 100s of emails, comments and messages across my social media handles from people around the world who either were in the process of applying or wanted to apply and needed some guidance.
From 2017, there has been a lot of changes to the scheme.
Some will say it’s now much harder to get endorsed now than it was back then but it can also be argued that people stand a higher chance of getting endorsed now than before because the number of allowed endorsement has doubled. Back in 2017, only 1000 applicants could be endorsed per year and because there are 5 bodies, that meant 200 candidates for each field.
As of today, 2000 applicants can now get endorsed.
Tech Nation is allocated 200 visas per year (from April to April) for digital technology applications but has the ability to endorse up to a further 1000 if required.
Changes & Updates to The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
- 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.
Previously, you only needed to provide 2 letters of recommendation from experts who are familiar with your work and contribution to the digital technology sector and they must be qualified to assess your claim to be a leader or potential leader in the field and be able to recommend you with confidence. (They do not need to be based in the UK, although it may strengthen your application where your plans in the UK are supported by a recognized leader in in the UK digital technology sector.)
So, if you are applying from October 2019, ensure that you provide 3 Letters of Recommendations.
- 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.
Previously, in order to get your application processed as fast as 18 working days (a.k.a Fast Track), you needed to show that, either:
- You intend to settle and work in the North of the UK and can provide evidence of this (i.e. demonstrate that you intend to be employed or set up a company in one of Tech North’s seven focus cities: Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland or the surrounding regions);
- You can demonstrate that you have the business or technical skills that are most needed in the UK digital technology sector including very specific technical knowledge, that can enable rapidly growing companies to access the right talent.
- Overseas teams of up to five individuals, that want to relocate to the UK, have an option to do so under this route; each team member will be considered individually and must qualify in their own right.
As of October 2019, all the above has been removed and ONLY digital technology specialists / applicants who have been accepted onto a recognized UK accelerator programme.
Now, everyone has to take a chill pill and wait for 8 weeks. Whew!
- Continuous Learning Length: In order to show continuous learning, you have to show you’ve taken courses to in the past 5 years that has helped you improve your knowledge and skill with the digital technology field. Course that shows you have continuously updated technical or commercial skills showing clear progression and achievement. (Please note that internal company awards, training or certificates would not be considered as sufficiently strong evidence to meet this requirement)
As of October 2019, you have to ensure that your courses took over 20 hours to complete and you should evidence the hours required for each course. Short courses (less than 20 hours) would not be considered sufficiently strong evidence.
When I applied in 2017, you didn’t need to show number of hours – of course, it was somewhat implied, you kind of know that the courses or certificates you show as part of “continuous learning” needs to be one that took some time to learn, however – it wasn’t explicitly stated and you didn’t need to show the evidence that it took more than 20hours to take the course.
So, make sure your courses or certificates has some way to show that it took more than 20 hours to take.
- Product-Led Skills: There’s more emphasis on ensuring that you are able to show that your tech and business skill is within a “Product-led” digital technology company. This can be clearly seen in the in Key and Qualifying criteria guidelines.
This emphasis is to ensure that candidates are aware of the fact that skills in and/or businesses who are tech-enabled or service companies such as agencies, outsources, marketing firms etc. will not be considered strong enough.
The UK is trying to attract more people who can create or have experience scaling “product-led” digital companies. This is understandable because companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Google and the likes are all based in America.
The UK wants a big win just like that.
So, take note of this.
I hope you’ve found this blogpost helpful and insightful. The best advice is to always ensure that you read through the most recent Tech Nation Guide which can be found on their official website here Tech Nation Visa Website.
This way, you are sure to be following their rules and guide to the letter.
I still have their guides from 2017 and even early 2018 on my computer and looking at them, I see a big difference.
I wish you all the best with your application, if you need any help or have questions – drop a question or shoot me an email using the contact page.