UK immigration – expansion of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category

Today, Tech City UK and the Home Office announced that from 12 November 2015 new qualifying criteria will be added to Tech City UK’s Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) endorsement standards.

The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category is for high value migrants who have been endorsed by a Designated Competent Body as an internationally recognized leader, or an emerging leader, in the arts, science, humanities, engineering or digital technology sector.

For applicants to succeed in the digital technology category, they must obtain an endorsement from Tech City UK, and previously the very strict criteria meant that only a very small number of applicants were able to qualify. The changes aimed at ensuring that the UK is able to attract top talent from across the globe, and to maintain the UK’s “position as a globally competitive digital powerhouse” include the following:

• Tech City UK will introduce a specific provision to help companies recruit talented individuals to scale-up efficiently. There will be a new fast-track route to enable companies to access the talent needed to ease expansion;
• Tech City UK will now consider applications from individuals who are able to demonstrate “Exceptional Promise”, which is already accepted in other Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) categories. This crucially lowers the threshold for those applicants who are in the early stages of their career and may have fallen short of Tech City UK’s current criteria;
• there will be a fast-track application procedure for digital businesses in the seven cities under the Tech North remit (including Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester); and
• Tech City UK will allow companies to recruit a team of up to five individuals enabling an entire team to apply at once consideration.

Home Office guidance has not yet been published, but is expected in advance of the 12 November commencement.

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