48% rise in demand for Tech Talent Visa as East of England tech ecosystem sees continued demand for specialist skills

Visa stamp _Image by VIN JD from Pixabay

Today, Tech Nation, the growth platform for tech companies and leaders, launches a new report that reveals insights into the international talent landscape and provides an update on the Global Talent Visa for Digital Technology.

Demand for the Tech Nation Global Talent Visa has continued to rise, with a growth of 45% and 48% in the past two consecutive years. It is expected to rise in 2021 as, from January, the Tech Nation Visa will be opening up applications to exceptional tech talent from the EU. In 2020, the Global Talent Visa has enabled 421 founders to set up businesses in the UK, up from 400 in 2019.

This global talent is distributed right across the UK, as 41% of endorsed applicants for the visa are based outside of London, working in the UK’s strong regional tech hubs.

AI & machine learning is one of the most popular destinations for Global Talent Visa holders, reflecting continued demand for tech skills in this area. East of England has seen a 9% rise in demand for AI skills and 21% rise in demand for cyber skills over the past three years. The East of England sees the highest rise in employer demand for fintech skills in the UK - a 30% rise from 2017 to 2019, followed by Wales at 24%.

The data released today shows that there has been a 200% increase in the volume of users in the UK searching online for terms explicitly related to ‘UK tech visas’ between April and September 20201 reflecting profound shifts in the labour market This surge in interest to work in the UK’s digital tech sector is reflected globally too, with a 100% increase in users internationally searching for these terms in countries like the US and India.

Congcong Wang, Head of Operations at TusPark, Cambridge said: "The UK is one of the top innovation hubs in the world, particularly in the fields of AI and Healthcare. Its environment fosters young talent, breeds disruptive innovation and creates amazing companies. The culture in the UK nurtures for innovation, and is considered a “safe place” for those inspired to take on the often risky route of entrepreneurship.”

Stephen Kelly, Chair of Tech Nation, comments: “The UK is a global talent magnet for Tech founders. The UK provides rich opportunities for entrepreneurs to set up,  flourish and scale a business. The Global Talent Visa is crucial to making this process easy and accessible. 

“Tech Nation’s Visa Report shows that, despite the pandemic, international interest to work in the UK tech sector has never been higher. Attracting tomorrow’s tech leaders to the UK is crucial to the continued growth of the sector, the UK’s place in the world, and driving the nation through recovery to growth in the digital age.”

Minister for Digital and Culture Caroline Dinenage said: “It's no surprise the UK's world-beating technology sector appeals to international talent. Our dynamic companies reflect the UK’s long-standing reputation for innovation and are renowned on the global stage.

"We are open to the brightest and the best talent, and this visa scheme makes it easier for companies across the country to recruit the talent they need to grow.”

Trecilla Lobo, SVP, People at BenevolentAI and Tech Nation Board Director, said: “The UK tech ecosystem continues to contribute to the creation of jobs and to innovative products and services. The Tech Nation Visa enables the UK tech sector to maintain its competitive advantage by attracting the best talent in specialist skills in tech, research and AI and a more globally diverse perspective to help us innovate and create amazing products and services.”

“As an immigrant to the UK in my late teens, the UK visa scheme has enabled me to bring my experience, expertise and contribute to the people agenda for tech scale-ups in the UK, and helped me build a successful career in tech. I am really excited that the Tech Nation Visa will open opportunities and streamline the visa process for future global tech talent.”

See the full Tech Nation Visa Report 2020

Tech Nation will be presenting the findings of the report in a virtual event today (19th November)


  • Since November 2018, the Global Talent Visa has received 1,975 applications and endorsed 920 visas from over 50 countries worldwide. 
  • In 2020, 52% of those endorsed for the Tech Nation Global Talent Visa are employees at some of the UK's leading tech firms, while 28% of those endorsed are tech founders, creating wealth and jobs in the UK’s fast growing tech sector. 
  • App & software development, AI & machine learning, and fintech were the most popular destinations for visa holders. 
  • India, the US, and Nigeria are the top three countries from which exceptional talent has come into the UK with the Tech Nation visa.
  • The top five roles or skills groups to receive endorsement are: Machine Learning & AI, Academic or Researcher, Product Management, Data Scientist and Software Engineer

About the Tech Nation Visa:

Tech Nation is the official Home Office designated endorsing body authorised to assess endorsement applications from individuals with expertise in digital technology and who want to come to the UK under the Global Talent visa.

The Tech Nation Visa is for founders and employees with technical or business backgrounds, including all tech sub-sectors like fintech, AI, cyber, and games. The visa is valid for up to five years, enabling you to work, change employers, or be self-employed, without the need for further authorisation. The Tech Nation Visa can be extended to your immediate family members and after the initial visa period, you can either apply for an extension or permanent settlement in the UK.

The visa has two distinct pathways, Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise, to accommodate applicants of varying levels of experience. While Exceptional Talent welcomes applicants with several years of career experience, Exceptional Promise enables those individuals who may be earlier in their technology careers, or graduates with outstanding academic achievement, such as having earned a PhD and had research published in the field of digital technology.

Tech Nation is one of six endorsing bodies for the Global Talent Visa, other endorsing bodies being the Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, British Academy, UKRI, and the Arts Council, collectively covering sectors such as science, engineering and the arts. Demand for the Digital Technology pathway is notably high, with Tech Nation processing 36% of all Global Talent applications since the route was re-launched in February 2020 (previously being operated as the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route).


Image by VIN JD from Pixabay