Lawyers are calling for clear guidance from the government on how one of the UK’s flagship visa routes will be administered after the body that endorses applications for it announced its closure.

The Global Talent Visa was promoted as one of the central planks of Britain’s revamped immigration system when it was launched in February 2020 to attract ‘the world’s scientists and mathematicians’.

Applicants from individuals with expertise in digital technology were endorsed by Tech Nation, a government-backed organisation serving the UK scaleup tech ecosystem.

However, Tech Nation is due to close at the end of March after they lost out of a £12.1m grant to rival Barclays Eagle Labs, leaving the visa application process in doubt.

No details have been given on how Global Talent Visas (GTV) will be administered after Tech Nation closes.

The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) is calling for guidance, with at least one member advising new applicants to explore other visa options until firm details are given about the future of digital and technology-based GTV applications.

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The ILPA has been told that previous Tech Nation endorsements will remain valid but that the organisation taking over some of Tech Nation’s work, Barclays Eagle Labs, will not take over the visa endorsement process.

The ILPA is now calling for guidance from the Government, particularly on what the replacement endorsing body will be and whether requirements from applicants will change.

In the meantime, one ILPA member, A Y & J Solicitors, is advising potential applicants to consider other visa routes, such as ‘self-sponsorship’, which is not promoted by the UK Home Office, but is within immigration rules and has been used by several firms to establish companies in the UK and hire workers.

Yash Dubal, a director of A Y & J Solicitors, said: “Although the Home Office says it is looking at options to ensure the continuity of the Global Talent visa scheme there remains a lot of uncertainty.

“Until we know what will happen to IT and technology sector applicants, some will be better suited to self-sponsorship, which applies to those who are genuinely serious about setting up bona fide businesses in the UK and is an innovative idea that hardly anyone knows about.

“It is open to anyone who has experience in the field in which they wish to run their business and enough money to fund their expansion.”

To self-sponsor, overseas individuals and business representatives must first establish a UK company and then issue themselves with a Skilled Worker visa, allowing them to come to the UK to work for their own company and eventually to settle as a UK citizen if they so wish.

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Mr Dubal said: “When it was launched the Global Talent Visa was hyped by the government but up until now it has been a bit of a damp squib. The fact that less people applied in the second year could be seen as an embarrassment. However, it should be remembered that only a small number of people qualify for the visa and those that do have a truly global choice of destinations to choose from.”