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The Global Talent Visa Opportunities in the UK for Software Engineers

The Global Talent Visa Opportunities in the UK for Software Engineers

The UK’s software engineering environment is thriving, and international talented engineers can join it through the UK Global Talent visa. Why is the UK a top destination for software engineering professionals? Firstly, in 2024, the UK became Europe’s most developed digital economy, according to the CCIA Research Center and Public First research. Additionally, the UK is home to numerous major tech companies and the highest number of tech “unicorns” in Europe. This creates a vibrant and prosperous environment for software engineering professionals.

Do you have what it takes to contribute to the UK’s growing tech field and software engineering market? In that case, the UK Global Talent visa for digital technology professionals might be worth paying attention to.

This article explores the opportunities presented by the UK Global Talent Visa, specifically for software engineers. We aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the UK market, including insights into salaries and the skills in the highest demand. Following this, the article will offer detailed guidance and pathways for applying for the UK Global Talent Visa for Digital Technology professionals, enabling software engineers to navigate the process with greater ease and understanding.

UK’s Software Engineering Market

Top Software Engineering Roles in the for UK Global Talent Visa Applicants

The landscape of software engineering in the UK is continually evolving. To prove: in 2019, the UK’s software market achieved revenues of approximately $23.7 billion, marking a compound annual growth rate of 12.7% from 2015 to 2019. The growth during the last decade is largely due to the increasing dependence of businesses and individuals on electronic devices, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past three years, the most in-demand software engineering roles in the UK have consistently been back-end engineers, full-stack engineers, and front-end engineers. These roles have garnered the most interview requests on the marketplaces, indicating their high demand in the industry.

Interestingly, the demand for front-end engineers has seen a noticeable increase in the last two years. They experienced a 3.5% increase in demand in 2021 and an additional 1% in 2022.

Meanwhile, back-end engineers witnessed a slight decline in demand, with a 2.5% drop in interview requests in 2021 and a further 2% decline in 2022.

Full-stack engineers also saw a slight decrease in demand, with a 7% drop between 2021 and 2022.

Even with slight declines in demand, these positions remain some of the most requested on the UK market. There’s a growing demand for front-end engineers, possibly due to the increasing importance of user-friendly websites and applications, as users’ expectations for online experiences continue to rise.

Most In-Demand Software Engineering Skills in the UK

In a survey conducted with UK software engineers on the Hired marketplace, they ranked their preferred programming languages as follows:

  1. Python
  2. JavaScript
  3. Java

Their preferences were based on several factors. The top reasons included the availability of resources for learning and development, cited by 66% of respondents, a strong personal familiarity with the language (64%), and a robust ecosystem, such as useful and well-maintained libraries and packages (also 64%).

Interestingly, these preferred skills perfectly align with the demands of UK employers.

JavaScript, as one of the most popular and widely-used programming languages globally, is fundamental to the World Wide Web. Alongside HTML and CSS, JavaScript is crucial for client-side web page behaviour. As of 2022, an overwhelming 98% of websites use JavaScript for this purpose.

Python’s versatility makes it popular for a wide range of applications, from data analytics and machine learning to design. Its popularity stems from its ease of use, simple syntax, and strong community support as an open-source language.

The overlap in favourite and in-demand skills indicates a synergy between what engineers prefer to work with and the market demand.

More reasons for talented software engineers to move to UK

Salary Trends

According to IT Jobs Watch, the average salary for a Software Engineer is around £65,000 a year in the UK. This information, pulled from job listings in the six months up to January 23, 2024, highlights a significant range in what software engineers earn. Those at the lower end of the spectrum make about £41,500, but salaries can soar as high as £113,375. Also, where you work in the UK can affect your salary. For instance, places like London typically pay more than other areas.

While these figures give a broad idea of what software engineers can expect to earn, the actual salary can vary. Things like your experience level, specific skill set, and the particular area of software engineering play a big role in determining your pay. For example, software engineers in specialized roles or those working with cutting-edge technologies are often on the higher end of the salary scale, as seen in various job ads throughout the UK.

Best Spots for Software Engineers in the UK

Here are our top cities in the UK for software engineers to find tech jobs with the highest salaries:


London is the leading city in the UK for tech jobs, and it’s also the main destination in Europe for technology funding. In 2022, London’s tech firms, particularly in gaming, EdTech, and Fintech, secured $19.8 billion in venture capital. The city offered over 600,000 tech job openings between May 2021 and May 2022, which is about 50% more than the entire Southeast region. Moreover, London ranks as the second-best global city for tech professionals, considering salary averages against living costs.


Known as ‘the cradle of innovation,’ Manchester is a top regional tech city in the UK, with 80,000 tech job openings posted between May 2021 and 2022. The city has become a hub for networks, cybersecurity, broadcasting technologies, and cloud transformation.


Birmingham, the fastest-growing tech hub in the UK as of 2021, had a market value of £15.3 billion. The city listed 40,911 tech vacancies from May 2021 to 2022. Its tech scene is diverse, with 26% of its digital tech workers being from BAME backgrounds, higher than the 15% national average.


Bristol recorded 36,006 tech job postings between May 2021 and 2022, ranking it third outside London. It’s considered the best city for tech jobs in terms of growth, cost of living, and salary opportunities. The city’s tech startup scene is thriving, with £220 million in venture capital funding in early 2022 alone.


Cambridge, with its world-renowned universities, attracts multinational companies seeking top graduate tech talent. The city’s ‘Cambridge Cluster’ tech sector, focusing on artificial intelligence and biotechnology, comprises almost 5,000 companies and is home to both big tech firms and rising startups like Darktrace and Five AI.

Contract vs. Permanent Roles Software Engineering Positions

Software engineers in the UK face a choice between contract and permanent roles. Each path offers distinct advantages and challenges:

Contract Role

Pros: Contractors often enjoy higher hourly rates and the flexibility to choose projects that align with their interests and expertise. As of 2023, contract rates for software engineers in the UK ranged from £38 to £93 an hour, varying based on factors like experience and location.

Cons: Contractors must navigate the complexities of self-employment, including managing their tax status under regulations like IR35.

Permanent Role

Pros: Permanent positions provide stability, structured career progression, and benefits such as pensions and health insurance. These roles offer a sense of security and continuous professional development opportunities within an organization.

Cons: The salaries might be lower compared to contracting.

Securing the UK Global Talent Visa as a Software Engineer

Eligibility for Software Engineers

The UK Global Talent Visa perfectly suits the needs of talented and promising international software engineers aiming to join and enhance the UK’s thriving tech and IT sectors. This type of visa is particularly attractive for software engineers because it does not require a job offer or sponsorship, allowing them the freedom to pursue their career goals and potentially leading to British citizenship.

To qualify for the UK Global Talent Visa, software engineers must demonstrate significant achievements in the digital technology field. As technical applicants, software engineers must exhibit proficiency in the latest software engineering technologies, such as advanced programming, system architecture, or new technology development.

Examples of Relevant Software Engineering Skills:

  • Expertise in programming languages and software development.
  • Advanced knowledge in system architecture and software design.
  • Proficiency in AI, machine learning, and data engineering.
  • Specialization in cybersecurity within software applications.
  • Experience in developing mobile applications and responsive web design.
  • Competence in back-end development, including database management and server-side logic.
  • Involvement in significant software projects or contributions to new technological advancements.

Application Routes

Software engineers can apply through two routes: Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise.

Exceptional Talent Route

This pathway suits software engineers with over 5 years of experience, who have demonstrated leadership in the digital technology sector.

Criteria include:

  • A proven track record of innovation in software engineering.
  • Contributions to the software engineering field that go beyond typical job roles.
  • Significant roles in technical, commercial, or entrepreneurial capacities within the software engineering sector.
  • Engagement in mentoring or collaborative projects related to software technology.
  • Recognition for academic research or publications in software engineering.

Achieving Exceptional Talent status allows software engineers to settle permanently in the UK after 3 years.

Exceptional Promise Route

The Exceptional Promise route is perfect for those candidates with less than 5 years of experience but showing potential in the software engineering field. Requirements include:

  • Demonstrating innovation as a software developer or engineer.
  • Making impactful contributions to the software engineering field beyond regular job responsibilities.
  • Quantifiable impacts on growth and success in software development roles.
  • Academic achievements or endorsements in software technology.
  • Evidence of potential for significant career growth and impact in the software engineering sector.

How to Apply for the UK Global Talent Visa as a Software Engineer

The process of applying for a UK Global Talent visa as a software engineer involves two stages: Endorsement Application and Visa Application.

Stage 1 – Applying for Endorsement:

Initial Steps:

  • Start by applying for endorsement on the official Global Talent visa website.
  • Fill out the Tech Nation Visa application form for evaluation.

To secure endorsement from Tech Nation, you need to demonstrate your expertise in at least 2 out of the following 4 areas:

  1. Contribution: Showcase significant contributions in software engineering, whether through technical, commercial, or entrepreneurial efforts. This can include roles as a founder, senior executive, or top employee in a tech company.
  2. Innovation: Provide evidence of your role in establishing or leading product-led digital technology companies, especially those that are innovative in the field of software engineering.
  3. Recognition: Present evidence of activities that extend beyond your usual professional responsibilities, contributing to advancements in software engineering.
  4. Academic Excellence: Display exceptional academic achievements in software engineering, backed by endorsements from recognized academic experts.

Processing Time:

  • Standard processing can take up to 8 weeks.
  • Fast Track applications may receive decisions in about 3 weeks.


  • If endorsed, you’ll receive an email with an endorsement letter from the Home Office, necessary for the visa application.
  • You must apply for the visa within three months of receiving this endorsement.
  • Note: Endorsement does not guarantee visa approval.

Endorsement Exceptions:

  • If you’ve received a qualifying award, you can directly apply for the visa without needing an endorsement.

Stage 2 – Applying for the Visa:

Application Steps:

  • Apply on the official Global Talent website within three months after receiving your Tech Nation endorsement.
  • Submit all required documents as listed on the government website.


  • The Home Office will review immigration-related aspects and general grounds for refusal.
  • For applicants already in the UK, the ability to switch to the Global Talent category is assessed.

Processing Times:

  • Expect up to 4 weeks for processing if you’re applying from outside the UK.
  • It can take up to 8 weeks for applications submitted within the UK.

For software engineers, this visa provides a pathway to engage with the UK’s vibrant tech sector, offering the opportunity to leverage their skills and potentially lead to permanent residency. It’s important to carefully prepare your application to highlight your contributions and expertise in software engineering.

Do you need guidance and instructions to secure the UK Global Talent Visa?

For talents wanting to showcase their software engineering skills in the UK market, Tech Nomads offers tailored strategies and robust support in UK Tech Global Mobility.

Tech Nomads is a global mobility platform that provides services for international relocation. Established in 2018, Tech Nomads has a track record of successfully relocating talents and teams. Our expertise in adapting to regulatory changes ensures our clients’ satisfaction and success.

To explore your UK relocation options, you may:

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