Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa for Digital Technology, known as the Tech Nation visa

The Tech Nation visa enables the brightest and exceptionally talented individuals from around the world to come and work in the UK’s digital technology sector, so that the UK’s position at the forefront of the global digital economy can be maintained.

There is an annual limit on endorsements by the designated competent bodies being 2,000 endorsements in total (with further allocation to the respective designated competent bodies, such as Tech Nation). Historically speaking, the limit has never been reached by the Tech Nation.

Applications are assessed by an independent panel of experts gathered by the Tech Nation against the Eligibility Criteria listed in the Home Office guidance. There are two routes available to cater for different levels of experience:

1. Exceptional Talent – proven to be a recognised leader; or

2. Exceptional Promise – proven to be an emerging leader.

Benefits of applying for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa

The tech Nation visa offers you more flexibility than other UK immigration routes. You can:

  • work - for an employer, as a director of a company or be self-employed
  • move freely between organisations, locations, job/roles without having to tell the Home Office (with a Tier 2 visa you are ‘tied’ to an employer/role and you often have to apply for a new visa if you change jobs);
  • take on activities in addition to those allowed on other visas, such as collaborations or voluntary work;
  • you can travel abroad freely and return to the UK;
  • there is no set earnings requirement;
  • bring family members with you.

How to apply for this visa

The Tech Nation visa is a two-stage process consisting of the following:

Stage 1: Endorsement

In order to be endorsed by the Tech Nation you need to apply to both, the Home Office and the Tech Nation. They are both online applications and can be submitted from anywhere in the world at the same time, paying the fee of £456 for an endorsement to the Home Office only.

Once the Home Office notifies the Tech Nation that they received the payment, you will have to wait up to 8 weeks to get your decision. This process can be accelerated to 18 working days if you can meet the fast track criteria. The endorsement application is not a visa application and does not affect your immigration status in any way.

Stage 2: The visa/immigration application

Once you have been endorsed, you can apply to the Home Office for your visa. You must apply for the visa within three months of being endorsed and pay the Home Office fee of £152. You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application, the amount will depend on your circumstances.

You can choose how long you want to apply for, up to the maximum time of 5 years allowed. You can also apply for settlement once you have been in the UK for 3 years with an exceptional talent visa or 5 years with an exceptional promise visa.

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