Goodbye Tech Nation: the future of the Global Talent Visa?
The Global Talent visa is a UK visa route that was designed to attract highly skilled individuals from across the world to come to the UK. The visa is aimed at individuals who are leaders in their field, or have the potential to be, and requires endorsement from an approved organisation. One of the approved organisations for endorsement is Tech Nation, who consider applications for endorsement from applicants in the digital technology field. To date, Tech Nation has processed over 6000 Global Talent Visa applications since its inception and endorsed more than 3000, and they have proven to be a credible and expert pair of hands for exercising this task.
However, with the sudden news of Tech Nation's closure as of 31st March 2023, due to a loss of key government funding, there are concerns about the future of the Global Talent visa and its endorsement process in this key sector. We therefore look at what alternatives a post- Tech Nation world would hold for this scheme.
As an alternative to Tech Nation, Barclays Eagle Labs (who received the funding award that Tech Nation were expecting) could become an endorser for the Global Talent visa. This could be the obvious and natural choice as successor, given the similarity of the two ecosystems. This transition could work by the UK government formally recognising and adding Barclays Eagle Labs as an approved endorsement body for the Global Talent visa. The criteria and guidelines for endorsement, as well as the verification processes, would need to be developed and implemented by the government to ensure that applicants meet the required standards.
In addition to Barclays Eagle Labs, there are other potential alternative endorsement bodies that could be considered. For example, the Royal Society, a scientific academy of the UK and the Commonwealth, could be recognised as an endorser. Other professional bodies, such as the Institute of Directors or the British Computer Society, could also be considered.
Another alternative approach could be for the UK government to provide endorsement directly. This would eliminate the need for a third-party endorsement body, but would require the government to invest in the necessary resources and processes for verifying applicants and assessing their credentials. However, it would potentially be a regression, as the whole credibility of the endorsement system was based on the involvement on non-governmental, real world organisations.
It's important to note that the future of the Global Talent visa and its endorsement process is subject to change and will be based on decisions made by the UK government. Any changes will need to ensure that the visa remains attractive to highly skilled individuals, while also meeting the UK's immigration policies and regulations. The experience and know how gathered by the Tech Nation endorsement team is all but certain to be lost, but what is essential is that the endorsement scheme remains open and continues and builds on the success established by Tech Nation’s tenure, even if that means opening and retraining a new team from bottom up, perhaps with some key hires from the old team to speed up the process.
We who work in the immigration law sphere will certainly be waiting for further announcements over the next few weeks, and the hope will be for a speedy and organised change of hands without causing chaos to the system.