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The UK government introduced the Global Talent Visa in 2020 to attract and retain top international talents. This visa provides a unique chance to work in Great Britain for those capable of enhancing the UK’s economy. Tailored for professionals from various fields, the visa is available to technology enthusiasts, eager to contribute their knowledge and abilities in the UK digital domain. Moreover, the visa provides a pathway for its holders to obtain UK permanent residency and British citizenship.
This article explores the steps Global Talent Visa holders in the tech industry need to take to obtain UK permanent residency (Indefinite Leave to Remain) and British citizenship. The article will start with an overview of the Global Talent Visa, including its eligibility criteria and the process of obtaining an endorsement letter from Tech Nation. Then, the article will cover the requirements for ILR. Finally, the article provides a step-by-step guide on the ILR application process and concludes with information on applying for a UK passport.
Understanding the Categories of UK Global Talent Visa
The UK’s Global Talent Visa is designed for individuals who are established or emerging leaders in their fields. This visa caters to three primary sectors:
In this article, we’ll specifically focus on the Digital Technology sector. This sector is meant for those who have achieved notable success in tech-related fields or show the potential to become leaders.
UK Global Talent Visa Eligibility for Tech Specialists
Before you start your UK Global Talent visa application, you should know that Tech Nation is the sole endorsing body for this visa.
Tech Nation is a growth platform that provides tech entrepreneurs with the necessary resources and insights to evolve from early stages to becoming success stories.
As the designated endorsing body by the Home Office, Tech Nation is responsible for evaluating endorsement applications from digital technology experts seeking to enter the UK through the Global Talent visa route.
You might be eligible for the UK Global Talent Visa if you have notable achievements in digital technology. There are two kinds of individuals who can apply:
If you’re applying as a technical expert, you need to show skills in advanced technologies, like developing or using tech innovations. If you’re applying with business expertise, you should have experience in growing digital products or leading significant investments in them.
Technical skills include roles like DevOps engineers, software developers, data scientists, AI experts, and cybersecurity specialists.
Business skills involve leading large investments, managing digital companies, expanding tech businesses, or having expertise in specific sectors like FinTech or EdTech.
The UK Global Talent Visa offers two application paths: Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise. You can apply if you fit into one of these categories.
This route is for those with at least five years of experience in their field. Applicants must prove they’re recognized as leaders in the digital technology sector over the past five years by meeting at least two of these criteria:
This route is for those with less than five years of experience but with the potential to become leaders in tech. Applicants should demonstrate involvement in significant projects or contributions to the tech sector early in their careers. They must meet at least two of the following criteria:
The Global Talent Visa application has two application phases for first-time applicants: Endorsement Application and Visa Application.
In this phase, Tech Nation reviews your skills and achievements to recommend if you’re eligible for endorsement. You start this stage by applying for endorsement on the Global Talent visa website and completing the Tech Nation Visa application form.
You must demonstrate your qualifications in at least 2 out of 4 areas: significant contributions in your field, innovation in digital technology businesses, recognition beyond your professional role, and academic excellence with endorsements from recognized experts.
Once Tech Nation approves the endorsement, you’ll receive an email with your endorsement letter, which you need for the visa application. This application should be started within three months of getting the endorsement.
However, remember, an endorsement doesn’t guarantee a visa.
Exceptions for Endorsement:
If you’ve received a qualifying award, you can skip the endorsement stage and directly apply for the visa.
For the second stage, apply on the Global Talent website within three months after receiving your endorsement. Missing this deadline may invalidate your endorsement. Submit all required documents as listed on the official website. This stage involves the Home Office checking for immigration compliance, including reasons for refusal and, for those already in the UK, the possibility of switching to the Global Talent category.
What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
Before proceeding into the application process for UK permanent residency, we must explain the term ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (ILR). ILR is the path to settling in the UK, often referred to as ‘settlement’ or UK Permanent Residency. It grants you the freedom to live, work, and study in the UK indefinitely and to apply for benefits if you qualify. Holding ILR also enables you to apply for British citizenship.
To be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain with a Global Talent visa in the Digital Technology sector, you need to follow five steps. They include maintaining endorsement, fulfilling UK continuous residence requirement, proving UK income in your field of expertise, satisfying English language requirements, and completing the Life in the UK test.
When seeking ILR, holders of the Global Talent visa must verify their endorsement is still valid. However, they don’t need to provide proof of this endorsement, because if it had been withdrawn they would have lost their visa.
To fulfil the UK continuous residence requirement, you should be residing in the UK for a period ranging from 2 to 5 years.
You can combine time spent under various visas, including the Global Talent (and Tier 1 Exceptional Talent), Tier 1 (General), Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Investor), Skilled Worker (and Tier 2 General), T2 Minister of Religion (and Tier 2 Minister of Religion), International Sportsperson (and Tier 2 Sportsperson), Innovator, Scale-Up, and Representative of an Overseas Business visas (now replaced by the UK Expansion Worker visa).
The residency duration required varies depending on your endorsement.
You’re eligible to apply for UK Permanent Residency after 3 years, if endorsed by Tech Nation, specifically as a recognised leader (‘exceptional talent’).
Alternatively, if endorsed by Tech Nation as an emerging leader (‘exceptional promise’), you can apply after 5 years.
If your visa was granted without an endorsement due to a qualifying award, different conditions may apply.
You are required to not leave the UK for more than 180 days in any given 12-month period.
To prove continuous UK residency, the Home Office prefers long-term documents. Long-term documents more easily show continuous residence. You’ll need documents covering the entire required period, like 3 or 5 years. Often, one long-term piece of evidence for the whole period is enough. However, usually, more documents are needed.
Every document should cover the entire residency period required, like consecutive annual bank statements.
Short-term documents are also accepted but are less preferred as they cover shorter periods.
These documents usually cover only the month they’re issued.
It’s essential to ensure the validity period of each document, as some are valid only for the month issued, while others cover longer periods.
Applicants must show they’ve earned money in the UK in their field since receiving their Global Talent visa.
If you’re an employee or a director of a limited company, you can prove your earnings with:
For self-employed individuals:
If you’ve worked as a researcher:
You may demonstrate your English language knowledge of CEFR level B1, B2, C1, or C2 English qualification, or a degree taught or researched in English (unless exempt).
The Life in the UK test, also known as the British Citizenship test, covers British culture, history, and traditions.
The test is 45 minutes long, with 24 randomly selected questions on test day. You need to answer at least 75% correctly to pass the test.
The test fee is £50, and it’s available at over 30 accredited centres. However, you must take the test at one of the five centres closest to your home.
If you don’t pass the test, you can retake it, but only after waiting at least seven days from your last attempt. There’s no limit to how many times you can try.
On test day, you must bring a passport or driving licence and a recent document showing your UK address.
Finally, include your Life in the UK pass certificate in your Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residency application.
The application fee for Indefinite Leave to Remain for Global Talent visa holders is £2,885 per person. This fee applies to each family member included in the application, such as your partner and children, if they’re eligible.
Every applicant needs to provide biometric information (fingerprints and a photo), but there is no separate fee for biometrics.
A decision on your ILR application typically comes within 6 months of using the standard service. During this time, you must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. If you do, your application will be withdrawn.
For faster processing:
UK Citizenship Application
You might be able to apply for UK citizenship if:
Dependents can apply for citizenship after 5 years in the UK, which includes a year with ILR, typically making them eligible after 6 years.
Spouses of UK citizens can apply for citizenship directly without waiting for a year after obtaining ILR.
The residence criteria for UK citizenship are stricter than for ILR. Applicants and their dependents must prove:
Excess absences might be waived by UK Visas and Immigration in special cases, like business-related travel.
Applicants must also meet the “good character” requirement. This involves the Home Office evaluating any criminal records, breaches of immigration laws, history of deception, and contributions to society.
In either case, Tech Nomads are here to help.
Tech Nomads is a global mobility platform that provides services in international relocation. Established in 2018, Tech Nomads has a track record of successfully relocating technological 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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