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Tech City UK unveils updates Tier 1 visa scheme

Tech City UK has unveiled an update to its government-backed Tier 1 ‘exceptional talent’ visa, adding four new qualifying criteria for applicants from the tech industry looking to set up home in the UK.

1. Building UK Scaleups

As scaleups become ever more crucial to the growth of the UK digital economy, as part of the consultation process, Tech City UK has included a specific provision to help companies to get the talent they need to scale quickly.

Whether it’s expertise in taking a company to IPO or scaling a product internationally, or individuals with very specific technical knowledge, such as data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, developers operations or cyber security, the Tech Nation Visa Scheme will provide a scale-up fast-track route that will enable rapidly growing companies to access the right talent at the right time to smoothen their path to success.

2. Recognising ‘exceptional promise’

The new Tech Nation Visa Scheme will now consider applications from individuals that demonstrate ‘exceptional promise’, a criterion that aims to open the route to a broader base of aspiring talent from outside the EU. This provision will facilitate companies in recruiting the highly skilled individuals needed to fill specific talent gaps.

3. Support for people joining ‘Northern Powerhouse’

The 2015 Tech Nation report found that over 170,000 people work in digital technology businesses across the North of England. The Tech Nation Visa Scheme will now 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).

Like Tech City UK, Tech North will now also provide a visa support service to offer guidance and advice to companies wanting to hire someone from overseas.

4. Recruiting teams of people in one go

Recognising that digital businesses often seek to recruit entire teams of exceptional individuals from outside the EU who have demonstrated success, a new revision to the scheme will cater for this. From November 12, groups of up to five will be able to apply at once for consideration, allowing UK digital businesses to attract high calibre and high performing teams that have a proven track record of creativity, collaboration and commercial vision.

Ben Medlock, cofounder and CTO of Tech City UK Future Fifty member company, Swiftkey, said: “Our team in London speaks more than 30 languages, which is instrumental in our development and growth as a language technology company. Supporting skills and talents are needed to scale a company quickly and building the right team can make or break your business.

“Cutting down on the processing time of visa applications, prioritising certain sets of skills and adding a new provision for UK scale-ups are improvements that will make a huge difference for fast-growing digital companies. We welcome initiatives such as the Tech Nation Visa Scheme that aim to make it even easier to attract talent from overseas.”