Tech City UK has published new visa guidance after Techworld revealed just how few people have applied for the scheme. 

The publicly-funded government quango was granted the power last April to give out 200 visas a year to talented individuals working outside the EU in the tech sector. However, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that it received just 10 applications between April 2014 and April 2015. 

UK tech companies need the best talent in the world to compete with Silicon Valley rivals ©iStock/Fotografiabasica
UK tech companies need the best talent in the world to compete with Silicon Valley rivals ©iStock/Fotografiabasica

The blog post reads: “The primary purpose of this visa is to attract applicants from outside the EU that demonstrate world-class aptitude in turn ensuring the UK digital economy remains a globally competitive powerhouse.

“And when we say world-class, we mean it. In the same way it’s about prima ballerinas, or Academy Award winners for the Arts Council, it’s about entrepreneurial rock stars, unicorn builders, or the next Steve Jobs for us.” 

Tech City UK claims that the 200 figure is a threshold as opposed to a target. 

The blog post explains how candidates need to apply to both the Home Office and Tech City UK if they want to be in with a chance of getting endorsed. 

It also links out to a document that details the criteria candidates must meet in order to receive the visa. 

There are three mandatory requirements which state that the applicant must have a proven track record of innovation in the digital technology sector as either a founder of a digital technology company or an employee within the digital technology sector. 

They must also provide a dated letter of recommendation from a “recognised UK based expert” who is familiar with the applicants work and contribution to their field. 

The applicant must also meet two or more “qualifying criteria”, which state that the applicant should have: led in the development of new or leading edge technology; had significant commercial success in the digital technology sector; have received or been nominated for a prestigious internationally recognised prize in the digital technology sector; and been recognised as a world leading talent in the digital technology sector. 

Applicants are invited to submit up to 10 documents to Tech City UK when making their application, in addition to a CV and a completed Tier 1 application form. 

Tech City UK can advise the Home Office on who to grant the visas to but the final decision lies with the Home Office. 

The Home Office allows a total of five organisations, including the Royal Academy and the Arts Council, to endorse a total of 1000 exceptional talent visas each year.