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UK expands Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, removes cap

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, the UK Home Office’s route to hire ‘highly-skilled’ entrepreneurs and employees from outside the UK, is being expanded and renamed as the Global Talent Visa, according to Tech Nation.

The visa is being introduced specifically to make provisions for science and research, removing the cap on the number of visas granted, and remains open to applicants within digital technology and arts and culture.

UK’s network for tech entrepreneurs, Tech Nation, will continue as the endorsing body responsible for processing tech applications on behalf of the Home Office. The sector will, according to the network, ensure that the UK can “attract the best talent from around the world”.

Gerard Grech, Chief Executive, Tech Nation, commented: “2019 saw the UK attracting 33 per cent of all European tech investment and a 44 per cent rise in visa applications for digital technology expertise from over 50 countries. Today’s announcement of expanding the route to include deep science and research expertise and abolishing the cap will help ensure the best and brightest talent can continue to contribute to the UK’s thriving digital tech sector.”

The visa has received over 2,400 applications since its inception in 2014, and Tech Nation has endorsed over 1,200 visas from over 50 countries – the highest amount of visa applications came from the US, India, Nigeria and Russia.

Moreover, 98 per cent of Tech Nation-endorsed applications were awarded a visa, with the top skills being software engineers, business development and solution architects. The most popular sectors have been apps and software development, AI and machine learning, and FinTech.

The visa expansion was announced a day after the UK government announced that ‘low-skilled’ workers would not get visas under post-Brexit immigration plans.

When the plans were unveiled, Home Secretary Priti Patel told BBC Breakfast the government wanted to “encourage people with the right talent” and “reduce the levels of people coming to the UK with low skills”.

The Tech Nation Global Talent Visa is supported by legal partners Kemp Little, Kingsley Napley and Lewis Silkin.

Commenting on the plans, Natalie Black, HM Trade Commissioner, Asia Pacific, said: “The Global Talent Visa will enable the brightest and best talent from around the world to work in the UK. As this new route is launched today, I hope even more exceptional talent from Asia Pacific will choose the UK to start and grow their business.”

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