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Transitioning from UK Global Talent Visa in IT Industry to UK Permanent Residency

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.

What is UK Global Talent Visa

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:

  1. Academia or Research: This includes academics, researchers, scientists, and others involved in scholarly pursuits.
  2. Arts and Culture: Artists, musicians, actors, and other cultural professionals fall under this category.
  3. Digital Technology: This encompasses experts in digital fields like software development, cybersecurity, AI, and other tech-related areas.

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.

What is Tech Nation?

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.

Eligibility Criteria

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:

  • Technical professionals from non-tech companies.
  • Non-tech professionals from tech companies.

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.

Application Routes

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.

Exceptional Talent

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:

  • Proven Innovation: Being a founder or senior leader of an innovative digital tech company or demonstrating significant innovation as an employee in a new digital area.
  • Wider Recognition: Showing significant contributions to digital technology advancement beyond regular job duties.
  • Notable Professional Impact: Roles like founder, senior executive, or board member in a digital tech company, show significant technical, commercial, or entrepreneurial impact.
  • Mentoring and Collaborative Impact: Contributing to the sector beyond work through collaboration.
  • Academic Achievements: Publications or endorsements highlighting scholarly success.

Exceptional Promise

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:

  • Innovation Role: Evidence of being a founder or an innovative employee in a digital technology company.
  • Extra-professional Contributions: Impactful work in the digital technology sector outside regular job roles.
  • Measurable Achievements: Data showing your impact on a company’s growth and success.
  • Academic Input: Publications or expert endorsements in the digital tech field.
  • Early Career Promise: Highlighting early-career achievements with potential for future impact in digital technology.

Application Steps

The Global Talent Visa application has two application phases for first-time applicants: Endorsement Application and Visa Application.

Stage 1 – Endorsement 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.

Stage 2 – Visa Application:

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.

From Global Talent Visa to UK Permanent Residency

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.

Indefinite Leave to Remain Eligibility

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.

1. Maintaining endorsement from the Tech Nation – a Recognised Endorsing Body.

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.

2. UK continuous residency requirement.

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.

Time spent outside the UK

You are required to not leave the UK for more than 180 days in any given 12-month period.

How to prove continuous residence in the UK?

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.

Examples of long-term evidence include:
  • Employer letters confirming UK employment duration.
  • Annual accounts for self-employed individuals.
  • Letters from UK institutions confirming course attendance and duration.
  • Invoices for educational fees requiring UK attendance.
  • Mortgage statements and payment evidence.
  • Tenancy agreements and rent payment records.
  • Annual bank statements showing 6 months of transactions per year.
  • P60s for each 12-month period.
  • Letters from care homes confirming residency.
  • Student finance body documents.
  • Council tax bills.
  • Proof of employer pension contributions.

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.

Short-term evidence includes:
  • Monthly payslips or bank statements.
  • Invoices for work done in the UK.
  • Utility bills with the applicant’s name and UK address.
  • Letters from healthcare professionals or UK entities confirm interaction.
  • Passport stamps, and travel tickets indicating UK entry.

These documents usually cover only the month they’re issued.

Documents that cannot be used include:
  • Personal references or testimonials.
  • Photographs of personal events.
  • Greetings or postcards.
  • Personal scrapbooks.
  • Digital media content (CDs, DVDs, USB sticks).

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.

3. UK income in the Digital Technology Sector.

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:

  • Payslips with your employer’s name.
  • A letter from your employer verifying your earnings.
  • Personal bank statements showing payments from your employer or a company where you’re a director.
  • HMRC documents showing taxable income with tax paid or due (like a tax refund letter or demand).
  • Official returns to HMRC from your employer (like a P60) showing taxed earnings.
  • Official returns from a business to HMRC, stamped or approved by HMRC.
  • Dividend vouchers from the company.

For self-employed individuals:

  • A letter from a qualified UK accountant confirming earnings or your share of net profits.
  • Financial accounts of your company showing net profit.

If you’ve worked as a researcher:

  • Details of funding from an institution, including a letter with your name, host institution, post title, and funding amount.

4. English language requirements

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).

5. Life in the UK test.

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.

Fees and Decision Time of Obtaining UK Permanent Residency

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:

  • You can opt for the priority service by paying an additional £500 to get a decision within 5 working days.
  • You can choose the super-priority service for an extra fee of £1,000. This service guarantees a decision by the end of the next working day after your biometrics are provided, if your appointment is on a weekday. If your appointment falls on the weekend, the decision will be delivered within 2 working days.
  • Remember, working days exclude bank holidays.

UK Citizenship Application


You might be able to apply for UK citizenship if:

  1. You’ve had ILR for at least a year.
  2. You’ve lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years. Note that if you got ILR in 3 years, you must wait an additional 2 years for citizenship eligibility.

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.

UK Citizenship Application Requirements:

The residence criteria for UK citizenship are stricter than for ILR. Applicants and their dependents must prove:

  • No more than 450 days outside the UK in the last 5 years, or 270 days in the last 3 years.
  • Not exceeding 6 consecutive months outside the UK in the 5 years before applying.
  • Less than 90 days outside the UK in the last year.

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.

Processing Time for Citizenship Application and Fees:

  • The processing time for citizenship applications is approximately 6 months.
  • The application fee is £1,330.

Do you need guidance on transitioning from a UK Global Talent Visa to a UK Permanent Residency? Or you need support in obtaining the UK Global Talent Visa?

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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