After receiving my endorsement as a “A World Leading Exceptional Talent” from Tech City a.k.a Tech Nation back in May 2017, I made a decision to myself to try my possible best to create content around this that will help and assist other applicants, potential applicants or people who do not even know something like this exists to gain confidence during their application process because when I was applying, I didn’t really see a lot of articles and information from people who have successfully applied giving advice or sharing their experience.
I have since been receiving loads of messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, my Blog comments section and my email from people who have reached out to thank me for my content and also to ask for advice / guidance. Even though I am not getting paid to do this, it gives me joy to see that my advice and content is helping someone out there make adjustments to their application, giving them a better understanding as to what it is required and ultimately assisting the UK government in its goal of attracting more exceptionally talented individuals to the UK to boost the UK economy.
The exceptional Talent VISA is spread between 5 areas – science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology and the arts but I will be focusing on the Digital Technology endorsement sector because this is where I have experience in and also because this is my field.
*This blog article is not a legal advice, it is my little way of adding value to people by providing information around the Tech Nation Visa which I have personal experience in*
These Are The 11 Frequently Asked Questions & Answers for The Tech Nation Visa.
1. What Is The Exceptional Talent VISA?
Most people do not know this VISA exists and anytime I get asked what it means for me to be endorsed as a “World Leading Exceptional Talent”, I always just say it this way – “The UK government just like any forward thinking Government in the world is always trying to ensure that they stay competitive and one step-ahead in all areas. To achieve this, they created a VISA scheme with the sole aim of attracting exceptionally talented individuals from outside the UK to come work, create, develop, add value and possibly settle down in the UK because they believe that whatever they create as a result of them being in the UK will obviously be attributed to the UK and this will boost the UK economy”.
I then go ahead to give practical real life examples such as “Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, Snapchat and most other Billion dollar startups are all based in Silicon Valley. This means that the UK is kind of a slacker in the Giant Tech scene but this VISA scheme would try to bridge the gap by attracting intelligent designers, developers, programmers, business minded individuals and more to come and create startups that will boost the UK digital economy.
This is the nutshell of what the Exceptional Talent Visa for Digital Technology means – in my opinion!
2. How Do I Know If I Qualify?
The name “World Leading Exceptional Talent” can sound daunting and “out of reach” and when I first stumbled upon it, I said to myself that I couldn’t be endorsed since one of the guideline says you must be “Be established as a world leader in the field of digital technology” and “Be an internationally recognised skilled professional in digital technology” and these things seemed out of reach for me.
That is not the case because I have been endorsed and I think the best way to know if you qualify to be endorsed would be to download the Guideline provided by the Designated body and go through the section where they outlined examples of roles and skills that can be endorsed. Tech Nation for example outlined examples of the types of technical and business skills and roles that this visa route is designed for. Even though the list is not an exhaustive one, it gives you an idea of what they are looking for.
If after going through the guide thoroughly – something in you says you can be endorsed! My advice would be to go for it. If you need more assistance on my personal experiences and advice, make sure you check my Tech Nation Visa Guide section of my blog where you will find more helpful articles and videos.
3. Is This Only For Developers & Programmers?
This is a very interesting question and I get a lot of messages from people outlining their skillset and then asking “Do you think I qualify and should I apply?”
I would say this though – the exceptional Talent VISA does favour people with Technical skills such as developers and programmers more but the VISA is actually also opened to people with Business skills THAT is inline with Digital Technology and this is outlined in the Eligibility criteria for Tech Nation Visa Applicants contained in the official Tech Nation Guide.
There’s a high chance that a person with business related skills in Digital Technology would also have some technical skills but it is kind of rare to see a very technical person also possessing business skills, so I believe people with business skills can be of more advantage.
This is my personal case because even though I know a little bit of code and have designed and developed websites for numerous startups – I am no where near a programming guru or hardcore developer, I am more of a business minded person.
4. Should I Apply Under “Exceptional Talent” or “Exceptional Promise” Category?
This is a very important and commonly asked question. Its somewhat of a tricky one as well because regardless of which one you apply under, the VISA is the same which means you still get the “Exceptional Talent Visa” whether you apply as an “Exceptional Talent” or “Exceptional Promise”.
So, in my opinion, the “Exceptional Promise” is for people who do not have a lot of experience in the field but they demonstrate the potential to become a world leader in the field of digital technology; (how much is “a lot of experience?” well, it is very subjective because someone might have 10 years experience in something but the weight of their experience might not be able to be compared to someone with just 5 years experience)
According to the official Tech Nation a.k.a Tech City UK guide, “Applicants who choose to apply via “Exceptional Promise” 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 endorsed via the Exceptional Talent route, but who feel they demonstrate the potential to be a world leader in digital technology through their skills and/or achievements thus far.
I strongly advice that you check your documents and decide within you if they are strong enough to apply as an Exceptional Talent instead of Exceptional Promise.
5. What Documents / Evidence Do I Have To Submit and How Do I Know?
One thing that makes me respect the UK Government and bodies is the amount of help and guidance they provide to help people in their application process. Tech Nation has done a great job in providing a very detailed PDF document which outlines what they expect to see and the types and examples of documents to provide.
The Tech Nation guide outlines the Mandatory and Qualifying documents you must provide and they go one step-ahead in providing examples of each Qualifying and Mandatory document. My advice would be to ensure you check this section out properly because it carries a lot of weight. After doing this, you will know the exact documents to provide for your endorsement process.
I have a video in this article Supporting Document Breakdown for The #TechNation Exceptional Talent VISA which I suggest you check out as it breaks down how to look at the supporting document section.
6. My Documents/ Evidence Are Quite Much and Exceed 2 A4 Papers. What Should I Do?
The rule provided by Tech Nation is to ensure that your documents do not exceed 2 A4 papers. (which means if its 1 A4 Paper – your evidence / documents needs to be on the front & back while if its 2 A4 Papers – it must be one page document each).
Always remember that you do not want to overlook any rule that they’ve provided as this may hinder your endorsement or make the process longer if they have to get in touch with you to make amends. To avoid this – just stick to the rule and minimize or summarize whatever long document you have.
7. When Should I Write My Personal Statement?
I personally think the best time to write your personal statement and the time that worked for me is after you’ve gathered and decided on what documents you will be applying with. Th reason for this is because in your personal statement – you will be able to refer to some documents that you are providing as supporting documents and this will make your whole application feel like one!
For example, in my first failed application, I didn’t do it this way – I wrote my personal statement in between or maybe before I gathered my documents completely and when I got my feedback of me not being endorsed in my first application, the Tech Nation expert who attended to my document added a comment to point out that I talked about a particular digital startup in my personal statement and CV but I didn’t add some documents / evidence that stressed that in my application.
So, I strongly suggest that you write your personal statement after you’ve gathered your 10 supporting documents.
8. How Long Does The Endorsement Process Take?
I know how hard and nerve-wrecking it can be waiting to hear the outcome of your “fate”.
The application process is in 2 stages:
Stage 1: Application for Endorsement – up to 8 weeks to be processed. (You can fast-track this process and get a decision within 18 working days if you fall into 3 unique categories outlined by Tech Nation in their official guide. Which are:
- You will employed or setting up a company in one of this places 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
- If you are an overseas teams of up to five individuals willing to relocate to the UK
Stage 2: Application for Visa – up to 3 weeks out of country and 8 weeks in country.
I used the Fast-track option because I was able to demonstrate that I had the technical skills that are most needed in the UK digital economy that can enable a fast growth in companies and I also showed that I would be based in Birmingham for a while to finish setting up a digital startup I co-founded.
9. Which Is Harder? The Application for Endorsement or The Visa Application?
The application for endorsement is the “hardest” part in my opinion. It took me a lot of time to digest the information and guideline provided in the Tech Nation Visa guideline, it took a while to begin gathering the documents required – picking out the ones I should use and trying to dig out some I never knew I would ever need to show people (like my schematic diagrams showing some processes I used in taking a startup from an idea to a working product) and also trying to get recommendation letters from my contacts who are obviously very busy business people.
The application process takes more time and not to forget that you need to craft a stellar Personal Statement of not more than 7000 characters.
The VISA application process is so easy in my opinion and this is because once you’ve been endorsed, you only need to take your Passport and Endorsement letter to apply for your visa (except you come from parts of the world like Nigeria where I had to also show a Tuberculosis test result) and of course you need the visa application fee and also pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application and that’s about it! It’s not as hard as people think it is. I think if we are to break the whole process into 100, the endorsement stage is 90% while the Visa stage is 10%.
10. How Does The Exceptional Talent Visa Standout From Other Visas?
I believe the Exceptional Talent VISA is a gold mine and actually a golden ticket. It gives you a lot of freedom as opposed to other forms of Visas that comes with a lot of restrictions. Besides improving your CV and professional profile with the newly received accolade of “World Leading Exceptional Talent Endorsement”, below are some of the advantages of this visa compared to other ones:
- You get 5 years and 4 months if you apply outside the UK (and 5 years if you apply within the UK) ; and after your 5 years visa expires, you are entitled to apply for settlement.
- You can work – for an employer, as a director of a company or be self-employed.
- You are FREE to work and assume any role or position of your choice once you are in the UK; the only restriction on jobs you can do are to work as a doctor or dentist in training OR work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.
- You can change jobs without telling the Home Office.
- You can bring family members with you (Your wife and child)
- You can travel abroad and return to the UK
I like the flexibility of this VISA and how not-so-restricted it is. This is very important to accommodate and encourage free-thinking and creativity! I am going to create a blogpost soon comparing the Entrepreneurship Visa and The Exceptional Talent Visa.
11. What Types Of Experts Should I Get Recommendation Letters From?
Tech Nation has outlined that the types of experts you should get letters from are “recognised experts who are familiar with your work and contribution to the field, and are qualified to assess your claim to be a potential world leader in the field”.
The term “Recognised Expert” as used by Tech Nation kind of confused me when I was applying because I thought the people had to be somewhat recognised or famous in the Tech Scene (say someone like Mark Zuckerberg) but what they mean from my personal understanding is that anybody you decide to get a recommendation letter from should be and hold a senior position in the organization or institution (e.g Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer, Founder, Finance Director or Head of Course) and the organization should be an “international company” ( a company that has a well-established national or international reputation) or from a “well-established university” and most importantly – the expert should be those that work with industry experts and are widely acknowledged as possessing expertise in the digital technology field. (NOTE: referees do not necessarily have to be based in the UK.)
Getting endorsed by TechNation is not an easy task but trust me, all the labour, time, resources and sweat you put into your application would be worth it at the end of the day when you get endorsed, I am a living testimony to that. After applying and not being endorsed the first time, I knew that wouldn’t be the end – I knew I deserved to be endorsed, so, I applied again. This time with more thought-out documents and structure and the rest is history, I got endorsed!
Nothing changed about me, my qualifications or experience – what changed was the structure of my documents and its content layout. I took a lot of time to re-construct and structure my document into what Tech Nation wanted to see and because I know this can be time consuming, daunting and lowkey frustrating, I have spent ample time in creating “Done for you”, “Fill in the gap” document templates for Personal Statement, CV, and 3 Recommendation Letters structure that will save you time, help you avoid having to look at a blank page without knowing what to write and help you get your application submitted faster to avoid being late due to the very limited number of applicants endorsed each year.
My templates for CV, Personal Statement and Recommendation Letters will make your life easier and also make the life of the companies or experts you will be reaching out to for letters easier because they will have a format and structure to follow in their letter to ensure they hit all the points about you Tech Nation wants to read and see.
You will get access to the Templates and also HD videos of me explaining each aspect of the template.
My Other Articles Around Tech Nation Visa – Exceptional Talent Visa Category
The UK Government Official Page for Exceptional Talent Visa – https://www.gov.uk/tier-1-exceptional-talent/eligibility
Tech NATION Official Page for Exceptional Talent Visa – https://technation.io/visa-scheme/
If you have any question or would like to contribute to the post, kindly drop a comment below and I’ll be there to reply. Cheers.