The Tech Nation Visa, officially known as the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent 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.
I was opportuned to have been endorsed back in May 2017 and I have dedicated a large portion of my blog and time to answering numerous questions and also creating useful blogposts like this to help future and current applicants. If you ever need advice or have questions regarding the Tech Nation Visa scheme, be sure to send me an email using the contact page.
(Please note that I do not offer advice on immigration i.e the stage 2 process, I only give advice on the stage 1 endorsement process which has nothing to do with immigration process)
These are the notable changes in the Tech Nation Guide of 2019.
1. Submission Now Fully Online
When I applied back in 2017, Tech Nation was called “Tech City” and at that time, we had to submit our applications online on the Home office website, Tech Nation website and then send printed copies of all documents / evidences to the Home office in the UK.
Since I applied from Nigeria, I had to send my documents to the UK using DHL, that was kind of expensive and I wondered why we couldn’t just apply online and why in this day and age we had to send printed copies. It didn’t make sense to me, to make matters worst – my first application was not successful, so I had to send another application pack to the UK once again from Nigeria using DHL. You can imagine how expensive and stressful the whole application process was.
As of the day of writing this post, you now only have to apply solely online. There’s no need to send printed copies of your documents anymore. Thank God.
2. Requirements for the Fast Track Option.
When I applied in 2017, there were 3 options needed for applicants to get their application process fast tracked. They were:
- Bridging the Gap: 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);
- Building UK scale-ups: 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.
- Relocating Teams: 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. Eligibility includes but is not limited to existing teams within an international company which have been acquired by a UK business.
As of July 2019, there are also 3 options needed for applicants to get their application process fast tracked but they’ve changed a little bit, they are:
- Regional location: You can provide evidence that you intend to settle and work outside of Greater London and you are able to demonstrate how this is linked to your plans foremployment or entrepreneurship;
- Experience of scale: You can provide evidence that you are an existing member of a senior management team or C-suite (CEO, CTO, CFO, COO, CMO etc) and are able to demonstrate extensive experience in expanding or growing a significant product-led digital technology business (ideally this company will have a headcount in excess of 50 staff).This fast track option only applies if you are applying under the ‘exceptional talent’ criteria(not ‘exceptional promise’);
- Accelerator participant: You can provide evidence of being accepted onto a recognised UK accelerator programme. The evidence in your visa applications should provide clear details regarding your plans in UK outside of your involvement in the accelerator programme. (the list of accelarator programmes can be found on the Tech Nation website)
As you can see, there has been some changes to the requirements for Fast track over the years. They look similar though but if you look closely, you will see some changes.
3. The Length of Personal Statement.
The personal statement is a piece of writing, written by you to explain the contribution that you will make to the UK digital technology sector, this document is one of the most important documents in your application pack. This is where you have to go crazy by humanizing yourself and showing your growth within the years in your career, talk about everything you’ve done, you are currently doing and what you intend to do in the coming years.
When I applied, the rule was to ensure that your personal statement doesn’t exceed 7,000 characters but as of July 2019, the rule is now to ensure that it doesn’t exceed 1000 words.
So, instead of character count, its now word count. This makes more sense. It’s easier to work with word count than character count.
4. Evidence of Continuous Learning.
The updated guide of 2019 defines continuous learning is defined as being able to show a record of consistent and frequent patterns of study, ranging over an extended period of time (e.g. the past 5 years). Each course should have required at least 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, the rule was that evidences you provide in relation to continuous learning should not date back to more than a year but as you can see above, evidences provided can date back to 5 years but the courses must be over 20 hours and you will have to show evidence of the hours required for each course and any course with less hours than 20, will not be considered strong enough.
They also say in the new updated guide for 2019 that “Please note that internal company awards, training or certificates would not be considered as sufficiently strong evidence to meet this requirement”, I never made use of internal company awards or training but I feel that’s what pointing out.
5. The Technical and Business skills Criteria.
When going through the new updated table of skills and expertise Tech Nation is looking for in candidates who intend to apply, I see that they are now more strict in the types and level of skills they consider valuable to the scheme.
You cannot miss the new clause under the table of skills accepted which says; Please note the following specialisms are not considered suitable:
- Service Delivery, Process Delivery, Outsourcing, Consultancy / ERP Consultancy, Systems Admin and all related fields.
- Corporate roles or experience of managing large corporate teams.
- Junior investors / analysts. Such specialisms must be supported by an investment track record made at a senior level and are not suitable for Exceptional Promise.
- Business skills apply to in-house work within product-led digital technology companies, not tech-enabled or service companies such as agencies, outsourcers, marketing firms etc
These changes are quite important and I felt the need to create this blogpost because I got a call some days ago from someone who wants to apply for this visa and whilst we were going through the new guide, I noticed that some of the advice I would have given him are now somewhat outdated and I needed to get with the new program! Be sure to always check the Tech Nation official website for the latest updated version of the guide. This is very important as they make updates to the rules and guides.
Useful resources Websites.
- Tech Nation Visa website: https://technation.io/visa/
- Official Tier 1 Exceptional Talent / Promise website: https://www.gov.uk/tier-1-exceptional-talent
- Official Tier 1 Exceptional Talent / Promise guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-policy-for-uk-visas-under-tier-1-exceptional-talent
- Official Review form (i.e. appeal form): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-endorsement-for-tier-1-exceptional-talent-visa