This week, Tech City UK revealed that applications for Tech Nation’s Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa scheme more than quadrupled over the course of last year. Reports show that for 2016-2017, Tech City UK received over 380 applications for endorsements compared to 100 in the previous year. So far, 260 of these applications have been endorsed with the applicants going on to make their application to the Home Office under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa route.
The scheme was introduced in 2014 by David Cameron and is designed to encourage highly talented migrant workers to bring their expertise to the UK and boost the country’s technology sector. Successful applicants can be granted leave for a period of up to 5 years and can work as self-employed or employed in most sectors. In comparison to the Tier 2 route, Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holders can work for any employer and move between employers without any additional approval from the Home Office.
Despite Theresa May’s pledge to reduce migration, the Conservatives manifesto does mention that an elected Tory government would ask the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to make recommendations about how the visa system can become better aligned with the its industrial strategy. The Conservatives envisage MAC’s advice would allow them to set aside a “significant” number of visas for strategically important sectors, such as digital technology.
Interestingly, statistics released by the Home Office last week show that of the 4,677 Tier 1 visas granted in the year ending March 2017, 501 of these were for Exceptional Talent visas (sponsored by Arts Council England, The British Academy, The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of Engineering, Tech City UK), an increase of 130% over the preceding year. The annual number of places available is 1,000 per year,
Applications for endorsement continue to rise in the wake of the Brexit vote indicating that the UK is still a popular destination for those wanting to work in the technology sector.