The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa category has been broadened in efforts to further develop the digital industry in the United Kingdom. Tech City led the way by convening a meeting of founders, chief executive officers and senior management to consider the various obstacles preventing UK companies from recruiting the best talent in this field. The extension of this category is therefore the result of a collective pool of esteemed opinions and is intended to ensure that the United Kingdom attracts the brightest and best professionals from outside the European Union.

Financial growth and global recognition are at the forefront of the initiative and this category looks to:

  • build UK scale-ups quickly;
  • recognise exceptional promise;
  • help to power the 'Northern Powerhouse' initiative by providing a fast-track process for business in Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland; and
  • recruit teams of exceptional individuals from outside the European Union.

There are two stages to obtaining entry clearance under this category. The first step is to apply to Tech City for an endorsement; the second is to use that endorsement to support a visa application for entry clearance. Companies wanting to employ an individual holding a visa under this category will not need a sponsorship licence, nor will they need to sponsor the individual. The application will be made by an individual keen to develop their work from inside the United Kingdom.

Before Tech City will issue an endorsement, it will review the credentials of the candidate against its set criteria. Candidates must have either a proven track record of advancement in the digital technology sector or contributed to the development of the sector from additional work undertaken outside their primary role.

Ultimately, this category is designed to attract 'exceptional talent'. Professionals that have paved the way in technical, commercial or entrepreneurial advancement (or intend to do so) should succeed with an application under this category. In particular, the Home Office seeks those who have demonstrated continuous self-development and made notable contributions to academic research.

For further information on this topic please contact Ben Sheldrick at Magrath LLP by telephone (+44 20 7495 3003) or email ( The Magrath LLP website can be accessed at

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.