Tech sector faces uncertainty over Global Talent visa following Tech Nation’s demise

Tech sector faces uncertainty over Global Talent visa following Tech Nation’s demise

23rd February 2023

Tech Nation, a UK organisation supporting the tech startup sector, has announced it will be ceasing operations as the UK Government has decided not to renew its funding. This has left uncertainty over the Global Talent visa for leaders and founders in the field of digital technology which is only currently endorsed by Tech Nation.

“Many of Britain’s most successful tech companies, from Monzo to Deliveroo, and from Skyscanner to Darktrace, have passed through one or more of Tech Nation’s growth programs,” said Founding CEO Gerard Grech. “Together we have made the UK tech economy a global powerhouse for tech talent and now third in the world for tech investment, after the US and China.”

The Global Talent immigration route

The Global Talent visa is a useful unsponsored route to work and settlement in the UK with dependant family for proven leaders or potential leader in the fields of academia or research, arts and culture or digital technology.

Each field has its own endorsing body. For example: those seeking a Global Talent visa who work in the TV industry might seek endorsement from the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT); architects from the Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA and scientists may approach the Royal Society.

Tech Nation will cease operations on 31 March, with no news on what will then happen to those seeking to be endorsed for a Global Talent visa in the field of digital technology. Thousands of tech talents and their families have used this immigration route to settle in the UK and work for some of the world’s biggest brands. According to the UK Immigration Rules, those on a Global Talent visa may find that “entry clearance or permission may be cancelled if their endorsing body ceases to hold that status for the route in which they were endorsed.”  

Tech Nation says it is working with the Home Office on the long-term future for this useful visa and the Home Office says that nobody already on this immigration route will be disadvantaged.

Continuity for those already on the Global Talent visa

But many are questioning how much thought went into the UK Government’s decision to award the new £12.09 million Digital Growth Grant to Barclay’s Bank Eagle Labs incubator and accelerator programme instead of Tech Nation. Eagle Labs will not be taking over the administration of this very important immigration route for tech experts and founders after the 31 March.

Barclays is a big player in the start-up sector. Eagle Labs has worked with start-ups and scale-ups across the UK since 2015. A statement from Barclays Eagle Labs last month said that the accelerator programme receiving Department of Culture, Media and Sports funding “is operationally independent from Barclays’ banking services.” It said that the Digital Growth Grant awarded following an open competition and rigorous assessment process would “increase support for the tech sector so more than 22,000 businesses can benefit from the grant, with at least 80 per cent based outside London.”

The Home Office told Tech Monitor that it is looking at options to “ensure the continuity” of the Global Talent tech visa scheme. A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are working closely with Tech Nation to ensure continuity of the digitech strand of the Global Talent visa in the short term, whilst we explore the long-term changes necessary in light of Tech Nation’s planned closure.

“We will also take every available step to ensure that applicants already part of the Global Talent route are not disadvantaged by the closure, so the UK can continue to benefit from the brightest and best living and working here.”

If you have any related concerns, are considering the Global Talent visa route or other UK immigration routes please contact Vanessa Ganguin