Uncertain future for the
Global Talent visa as Tech
Nation announces closure
2 February 2023
After a decade transforming the UK tech sector, Tech Nation has announced that it will cease operations on 31 March 2023 after the UK government withdrew its grant funding.
Tech Nation is a non-profit organisation which supports tech start-ups. Set up by the coalition government in 2010, the organisation has supported the rise of some of the biggest names in UK tech, including Monzo, Revolut, Ocado, Skyscanner, and Deliveroo. The organisation has also played a key role in bringing thousands of talented tech workers to the UK through the Global Talent visa scheme endorsement process.
However, the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) recently announced that it will be awarding £12m of grant funding, that Tech Nation had relied upon, to Barclays bank. Barclays’ tech incubator Eagle Labs will use the funding – awarded as part of a two-year contract – to help launch new programmes to support tech businesses.
Following the decision, Tech Nation has confirmed that it is not viable to continue its operations without this core government grant funding and it will therefore commence a ‘carefully planned wind-down’ and close its doors at the end of March.
The move has now cast uncertainty on the future of the Global Talent visa for those applying in the digital technology field, as Barclays will not be taking over the visa endorsement process from Tech Nation despite it being the new recipient of the grant funding.
What is the Global Talent visa?
Launched in February 2020, the Global Talent visa is a bespoke immigration route designed to attract the ‘brightest and best talent from around the world’. The route reformed and replaced the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, with the aim of improving the UK’s appeal to highly skilled individuals with specialist skills that will enrich the UK’s knowledge, economy and society.
Unlike many other work immigration routes, the Global Talent visa does not require the applicant to have a job offer in order to apply. It also leads to settlement in the UK after three or five years, depending on the applicant’s circumstances.
Currently, the Global Talent route is open to leaders or potential leaders in the following fields:
- Academia or research
- Arts and culture
- Digital technology.
Most applicants are required to successfully obtain an endorsement to prove that they are a leader or a potential leader in their field before the visa application itself can be submitted, unless they have won an eligible ‘prestigious award’, such as a Turing Award or the ACM Prize in Computing.
Currently, Tech Nation is the only endorsing body responsible for verifying the expertise of those applying for a Global Talent visa in the digital technology field.
What happens next?
The Home Office has been notified of Tech Nation’s plans to cease operations on 31 March and the visa programme will continue as normal in the interim period.
Despite the DCMS funding now being allocated to Barclays, the bank will not take over any visa administrative responsibilities as part of the deal. At present, the Home Office has not identified a new endorsing body for the digital technology field.
Global Talent applicants in this field who require an endorsement are therefore advised to apply as soon as possible.
Smith Stone Walters continues to monitor the situation and will provide an update when further details are available. To keep up to date with the latest UK immigration news, please sign up to our free news service.