When you read the media reports on the UK Conservative Government’s policy regarding immigration, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Britain does not want any more migrants entering the country, no matter what they have to offer in terms of skills.

Fortunately, this is far from the truth. A rapidly growing population, relatively low taxes and a greater degree of independence from the ailing Eurozone will make Britain the most successful economy in the West after the United States over the next fifteen years, according to the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

In an upbeat assessment of the country’s prospects, the CEBR said Britain, the sixth biggest economy in the world, will see its GDP grow from £1.59 trillion to £2.64 trillion by 2028.

To make these predictions a reality, Britain needs talent in the form of workers, particularly in the area of technology.

Immigration is a big issue for UK startups, with many of them struggling to find people in the UK or Europe with the skills they need. PwC’s 2015 Global Digital IQ Survey found 78% of UK companies considered a skills shortage in digital expertise as one of their main barriers to progress.

The Tier One (Exceptional Talent) Visa is one of the least utilised visa options available for non-EEA nationals wishing to enter the UK and is worth considering if you meet the requirements set out below.

Exceptional Talent Visa – The Essentials

Introduced by the Home Office in 2011, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa allows for the fast-tracking of 1000 foreign workers to come to the UK

If you have been endorsed as a recognised leader (exceptional talent) or an emerging leader (exceptional promise) in the certain fields, then you may be eligible to enter the UK under a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa.  The fields are:

  • Science
  • Humanities
  • Medicine
  • Digital Technology
  • Engineering
  • The Arts

The application is via a two-stage process.  Firstly, you must obtain an endorsement from a recognised body that you are an ‘exception talent’ or hold ‘exceptional promise’ in your field.  Once you have received this endorsement you can proceed with the visa application.

Your application for endorsement is considered by:

  • Arts Council England
  • British Academy
  • Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Royal Society
  • Tech City UK (Tech Nation)

The UK Home Office releases 500 places under this visa twice a year.

Under the Visa you are entitled to:

  • work
  • change your employment
  • do voluntary work
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • bring family members with you

Your cannot, however;

  • receive Government benefits
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach

Under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, you are entitled to stay in the UK for up to five years and four months with the option to extend your Visa on expiry.

The Exceptional Tech Talent Scheme

In response to this rapid growth, the Conservative Coalition set up a Government Funded, not for profit organisation called Tech City UK in 2010.  The mission of this organisation is to support businesses in the technology sector and attract the most talented people from around the globe to come and work in the UK tech industry.

To achieve this, Tech City UK met with various leaders in the UK technology industry to discuss how best to attract new talent to the UK.  These consultations resulted in the Tier 1 (Exceptional Tech Talent) Scheme being created which contains four new qualifying criteria.

The new qualifying criteria are:

  • Building UK scale-ups
  • Recognising “exceptional promise.”
  • Powering the Northern Powerhouse
  • Recruiting teams of up to five individuals at any one time.

Building UK Scale-Ups

Once a company has overcome the challenges of the start-up phase, they need to grow according to scale.  This requires access to talented employees who can specialise in certain roles to drive the company forward.  This new qualifying criteria is designed to assist rapid scale-ups acquire the people they need at the right time and who have skill set the company needs to promote rapid growth.

Recognising Exceptional Promise

Talent in the technology sector is often young, too young to have had the time to demonstrate they have exceptional talent; however, it is clear that the promise is there.

In order to allow companies to select from a wider pool of gifted individuals, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Tech Talent) Scheme will consider applications from individuals who show ‘exceptional promise’ in their chosen field of expertise.

Powering the Northern Powerhouse

To narrow the North/South economic divide, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne created the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ concept, which is designed to grow and capitalise on the North of England’s strong manufacturing, science, technology and service sectors.

To support this aim, the scheme will include a fast-track applications procedure for digital businesses in the seven cities under the Tech North remit (Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland) who want to hire talent from outside the EU.

Recruiting Teams

Digital companies, especially those in the scale-up phase often need to recruit entire teams of people very quickly to meet demand and/or capitalise on a growth opportunity in an industry where change can happen at lightning speed.

From 12th November 2015, groups of up to five individuals will be able to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa under the new scheme, a move that will allow technology companies to obtain whole ‘departments’ of talent rather than just one individual at a time.

Tech City UK has the power to endorse 200 of the 1000 application places available under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa.  With only 37 applications made under the scheme so far, there are still plenty of places left in 2016.

Contact our Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Lawyers Birmingham, UK

Sultan Lloyd Solicitors have the experience and expertise required to successfully advise individuals looking to work in the UK under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa. To find out how we can help you, please call our Birmingham office on 01212482850.