Tech Nation Global Talent FAQs: what you need to know

We are experts in assisting with Global Talent applications endorsed by Tech Nation.  Our FAQs provide some useful information for you about the qualifying criteria and how to apply.  Please contact us for assistance.

What is the Tech Nation Global Talent visa?

The Global Talent visa in the field of digital technology is a category which was introduced to bring leading technical and business talent in the digital tech sector from around the world to the UK. The Global Talent visa is not a ‘sponsored’ visa and so it gives you maximum flexibility and freedom to live and work in the UK.

Tech Nation has created a strong like-minded community in the UK and one of the best things about obtaining a Tech Nation Global Talent visa is you will get to be a part of that community.


The phrase ‘leader’ is a little scary and is putting me off applying. How do I know if this is the right route for me?

Firstly, very few people believe that they are a leading talent so you are not alone there! To qualify, you have to evidence you meet certain criteria, including one ‘mandatory’ criteria by demonstrating that either you are a recognised leader (exceptional talent) or a potential leader (exceptional promise) in the digital tech sector. A good place to start is to think about those individuals you might ask to be your referees and consider what they might say about you. This can help you gauge whether you might be considered a leader in your field.

You also need to carefully consider the optional criteria and spend some time identifying which optional criteria you think might apply to you. Once you have done this the best place to start is to focus on what you are passionate about and identify those specific achievements of which you are most proud and how you and your specific skillset will benefit the UK digital tech sector. It is also important to think about your plans for the UK and how you might contribute to the UK tech eco-system.


How do I know whether to apply under ’exceptional talent’ or ‘exceptional promise’?

This will be determined largely by your experience and the duration of your career and what your referees are able to say about you.  There are no hard rules designating whether you are best suited to ‘talent’ or ‘promise.’  But the guidance is relatively clear and states that ‘promise’ applicants are likely to be in the earlier stages in their career, with roughly 5 years or less relevant experience and are more likely to be able to demonstrate that they have the potential to be a leader but have yet to develop a proven track record. If you have more than 5 years’ experience you are more likely to apply under ‘talent’ unless there has been a recent and significant shift in the direction of your career. It is helpful to note that if you apply under ‘talent’ or ‘promise’ and, based on the evidence provided Tech Nation feels it would be more appropriate for you to be endorsed under the other category, then they would not refuse the application and require you to resubmit, but rather would just ‘endorse up’ or ‘endorse down’.


How do I choose my referees and how do I know if my referees are good enough?

Firstly it is important that the people you choose to act as your referees have worked with you directly and are therefore in a position to speak with authority and examples about your experience.

You also need to ensure that your referees are recognisable figures in your particular field, in a senior leadership position and with a public facing profile, and whose comments on why you should be endorsed by Tech Nation will therefore be afforded significant weight.

It is also very important to remember that your referees should ideally produce the letter on a letter-headed document. Company letterheads will create a stronger reference, but if there is an issue with obtaining company letterheads, your referees could use their own personal letterhead. Getting these letters prepared and signed off on company paper can be a long process, so it is a good idea to reach out to potential referees and get started on these letters at the earliest opportunity.


How do I know what documents to provide?

The evidence you provide needs to help you satisfy the mandatory and optional criteria that you have chosen and you need to be able to connect each document to at least one of the mandatory or optional criteria. The evidence you provide should also enable the Tech Nation assessor to measure you against the criteria, so should provide some form of tangible metric.

The Tech Nation website contains helpful guidance which sets out an indication of some of the documents they would expect to see depending on which key and qualifying criteria you have chosen, but it is important to remember that each application is very different and there is no set formula for success. You need to ensure you consider your application as a whole and make sure that the evidence you provide corresponds with what you say in your personal statement and the information contained in your reference letters.

The most important thing is to take a step back and ensure you are happy that the evidence you have provided clearly tells your own unique story.


How do I apply for endorsement?

You first need to complete an online Home Office application form, which requires you to provide basic personal information. You need to submit this online and pay the £456 endorsement application fee. Once you have done this you will receive a unique application reference number (UAN) and a payment reference number. Within 15 working days of submitting the online Home Office application form you must  submit an online Tech Nation application form , and you will need to provide your reference numbers in order to do so. Within the Tech Nation portal you will need to answer additional questions about your career background, write a personal statement, confirm which key and qualifying criteria you are relying on and upload your supporting evidence.


Is there a best time to apply for endorsement?

There is no longer any cap on the number of endorsements Tech Nation is permitted to award, so there is no strategic decision to be made about when to apply. You should just apply when you feel you are ready. However a key consideration may be if you have an existing visa which is due to expire and you hope to be able to ‘switch’ from within the UK or if applying from outside the UK, allowing enough time for any provisional relocation to the UK.


How long will the endorsement application take?

Once you have submitted the Home Office online application form you should receive a decision on the endorsement within 8 weeks. If you have applied via the ‘fast track’ this is reduced to 3 weeks.


What is the ‘fast track?’

If you can provide evidence of being accepted onto a current or future programme at one of the recognised UK accelerator programmes  your application will be fast tracked. If you want to follow the fast track route you need to make sure the evidence provided in your endorsement application gives a clear picture of your plans in the UK beyond your involvement in the accelerator programme. 


What is the success rate?

Approval rates for the Tech Nation Global Talent visa are around 50%.


I have successfully obtained an endorsement. How do I make a visa application?

If you are one of the candidates who successfully obtain endorsement from Tech Nation you will have a period of three months from the date of the endorsement letter to submit your application to either enter or remain in the UK in the Global Talent category.


I already have a current visa but I want to switch to the Global Talent visa.  What do I do?

We recommend that you seek legal advice to discuss whether you may be eligible to switch inside the UK from your current visa as there are a set and limited group of visa categories from which it is possible to make the switch. If you are not currently in the UK in a category from which you are permitted to switch then you will need to make the visa application from outside the UK, and this can be done from any country where you are lawfully present.  Our previous blog addresses switching issues.


How long will my visa be valid for?

When you come to make the stage 2 visa application you will be able to choose how much leave you apply for up to a maximum of 5 years. How long you apply for will be guided by whether you think you will be able to meet the requirements for settlement quickly, or whether you want to give yourself a comfort cushion to do so. The number of years you will apply for will impact how much you have to pay in terms of the Immigration Health Surcharge, which currently costs £624 per year, but is frequently reviewed.


Can I bring my family to the UK?

Yes, Global Talent migrants are permitted to bring dependent family members to the UK and you can include these family members when you complete stage 2, the visa application. Dependant family members include your partner and dependent children who are under 18 at the time of your first visa application.


Does the Global Talent visa lead to settlement in the UK?

In short, yes! This is a category which can lead to settlement (also known as indefinite leave to remain) in the UK.


How long do I need to spend in the UK in order to settle in the Global Talent category?

If you have been endorsed on the basis of ‘talent’ you need to be resident in the UK for three years and if endorsed under ‘promise’ the qualifying residence period is five years. However you do not need to spend all of this time in the Global Talent category and can combine any time you have spent with leave in the following categories:

  • Innovator
  • Tier 1 (excluding Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur))
  • Tier 2 (excluding Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)
  • Skilled Worker

Please note that dependent family members cannot take advantage of the quicker 3 year route to settlement if the main applicant is endorsed for ‘talent’ and will instead need to complete 5 years in the UK in order to qualify for settlement.


What do I need to do to set myself on the right track for settlement?

The key requirement for obtaining settlement in the UK under the Global Talent category is that your endorsement has not been withdrawn and that you have earned some money in the UK in the field in which you were endorsed.

The Global Talent visa is very flexible in that you are not restricted to working in any particular way. You can seek employment, be self-employed, start your own business or even work on a freelance or consultancy basis. You can also study alongside any work. However the important thing to be aware of is that the Home Office has a very specific list of documents which you must be able to provide at the settlement stage in order to evidence the money you have earned. It is worth checking that you understand what documentation you will need to be in a position to provide to ensure you set up your operations in such a way as to put yourself in the best position to obtain settlement in the future.


Is there a residence requirement for settlement in the Global Talent category?

Yes there is a residence requirement and in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain, Global Talent visa holders cannot spend more than 180 days outside the UK during any 12 month period during the qualifying period. This is assessed on a rolling basis. We recommend that you keep track of any absences form the UK as you go along as this makes it easier when you come to apply for settlement.

If you have had excess absences due to the pandemic, there may be scope to ask for these to be disregarded, we would be happy to advise on this issue further.


What has happened to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category?

The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category closed to new entrants on 20 February 2020 but don’t worry, those who have been endorsed under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) will still be able to extend their visas under the Global Talent category or apply for settlement in the UK as a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrant.


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