Demand for Tech Nation’s Global Talent Visa has soared in the last year.

The government-backed body has been designated by the Home Office to endorse applications for the Global Talent Visa since 2014, enticing talent from around the world to the UK’s digital technology sector. 

There have now been over 4,000 applications from 102 countries, with more than a third coming through in the last 12 months and more than half in the last 24 months as the nation exited from the European Union.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, repeated lockdowns and travel restrictions in the last 18 months, the UK is still a magnet for global talent – with a 28% increase in applications from the period of April 2019-March 2020, pre-pandemic, to April 2020-March 2021. 

This talent is helping to drive the growth of tech across the UK, and over a third (39%) of visa applicants endorsed by Tech Nation decide to base themselves outside London – including Edinburgh, Newcastle, Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds, and Manchester.

The Global Talent Visa is open to both highly skilled tech employees and tech founders. The number of founders applying for the Visa scheme has grown by 74% on average every year since 2018, with over 600 tech founders now having been endorsed by Tech Nation. 

There has been a 172% increase in the number of endorsed applicants in cybersecurity since 2018, a 75% increase in applicants with a FinTech background and double the number of applicants coming through with a HealthTech background. 

The most common skills of applicants are app and software development, AI and machine learning, and enterprise software. 

Why VCs need a levelling-up strategy

“The UK is a global powerhouse for tech, not only due to our world-class ideas and innovation, but our world-class talent too,” said Gerard Grech, founding CEO of Tech Nation. 

“Tech Nation’s Global Talent Visa is just one of the many reasons the UK is such an attractive hub for ambitious and inspiring tech entrepreneurs, and will help ensure the UK remains one of the best destinations to start and scale a tech business in the months and years to come.”

Two founders who have used the visa are Gilbert Corrales, who founded Newcastle-based Leaf, and Anita Koimur, who co-founded FinTech LiveFlow. 

Corrales said: “Being a Tech Nation Global Talent Visa holder has helped to give me and my co-founders the time, space and access to the network required to scale our business here in the UK. 

“We have also benefited from the route to attract and retain some of our key international talent as we grow.”

Koimur added: “Securing the Talent Visa allowed me to continue living in the UK and empowered me to co-found a B2B SaaS company that was backed by Y Combinator and Seedcamp. 

“This opportunity has enabled me to move forward professionally so it’s something I am very grateful for.”