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How Tech Start-ups Can Recruit The Overseas Talent They Need To Grow

One of the greatest challenges UK tech start-ups face when looking to scale-up is getting the right talent to help them achieve their commercial ambitions.

According to research published by the Silicon Valley Bank, 57% of tech start-ups cite access to talent as their most important public policy issue. A 2015 report by PwC stated that a whopping 78% of UK tech companies see a skills shortage in digital expertise as one of their main barriers to progress.

Theresa May's announcement last week that the UK is pulling out of the single market and clamping down hard on immigration from the EU, is going to make the situation even more difficult, if not impossible. Further impediments to being able to recruit top talent may see start-ups choosing to set up in Paris, Berlin, or even Eastern Europe, which has a rapidly growing tech sector.

The truth is Britain cannot supply enough of the skills needed by the burgeoning tech sector itself. Even if we focused all education efforts on developing great STEM and tech graduates, results would not be seen for years down the line, and businesses need people today. In fact, for many, yesterday.

According to EU Start-ups, the UK currently employs over a third of tech talent and London, where 40% of start-ups have at least one overseas founder, is the most common destination for EU tech job seekers.

No entrepreneur ever achieved success without a positive attitude and fortunately, there remains a great deal of government support for tech start-ups, not only in London but throughout the whole of the UK. After Brexit, regardless of its current stance on immigration, Theresa May and her Cabinet will have to offer some delectable benefits to employers to ensure they continue to grow, and more importantly, continue to stay in the UK.

Tech City and the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa

Tech start-ups can recruit employees from outside the UK by taking advantage of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa. One thousand of these visas are issued every year with 200 reserved for the tech industry. The visas are endorsed by Tech City UK, which was launched by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010.

One advantage of hiring someone who possesses a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa is that as an employer, you do not have to obtain a UK Sponsor Licence or complete a Resident Labour Market Test to recruit the visa holder. The visa lasts for five years, at the end of which, the holder can apply for Indefinite Leave to remain.

Eligibility for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa.

To successfully apply for one of the 200 visas available under the Tech Nation Visa Scheme, the applicant must be from outside the EEA.

The process is two-fold; the applicant must be endorsed by Tech City as exceptional tech talent. Secondly, they must obtain entry clearance into the UK.

Endorsement

To be endorsed for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa in the tech sector, applicants must meet at least one of the following two mandatory criteria:

  • Have a proven track record of innovation in the digital technology sector, as the founder or director of a tech company or an employee working in a new digital field or innovation; or
  • Have received outside recognition of their work which has contributed to the advancement of their sector (i.e. mentoring or teaching).

They must also meet two out of four of the following qualifying criteria

  • Have made a significant technical, commercial or entrepreneurial contribution to the tech sector as an entrepreneur, director founder of a tech company.
  • Be recognised around the world as a leading talent in the digital technology sector.
  • Undergone continuous learning/mastery of new digital skills (commercial or technical) throughout your career;
  • Demonstrated exceptional ability in the field by making academic contributions through research (e.g. journals or awards).

The applicant can apply under the exceptional promise category if they can prove they are on track to achieve the required mandatory and qualifying criteria in the near future.

Fast-tracked applications

In 2015, the government recognised the importance of recruiting top talent is to the tech industry. After obtaining direct feedback from the digital business community, it created the following fast-track criteria for applications under the Tech Nation Visa Scheme.

  • The applicant plans to make a contribution in the North of the UK (i.e. plan to work in or set up a company in one of Tech North's seven cities: Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland or the surrounding regions).
  • The applicant has specific skills needed in the UK
  • The applicant is part of a team of up to five people, which allows start-ups to recruit entire teams in order to scale-up quickly

Under the fast-track route, Tech City UK can provide a decision on endorsement within 18 days.

Entry-clearance

If the applicant successfully achieves endorsement, the Home Office must consider whether there is any reason for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa to be refused. There is no English language requirement or financial maintenance criteria relevant to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa.

If the applicant is successful, they are free to accept a position in the UK or be self-employed.

Final words

The number of applications under the Tech Nation Visa Scheme has dramatically increased over the past 12 months. The top countries for tech visa applicants were the USA, India and Nigeria.

This route offers a genuine opportunity for tech start-ups to recruit talent from abroad, without the need to invest in a Sponsor Licence and its ever-increasing compliance obligations.

The team at Reiss Edwards consists of some of London's leading immigration solicitors. If you require expert legal advice on obtaining a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa under the Tech Nation Visa Scheme or recruiting someone who plans to apply for endorsement under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa route, please call us on 020 3744 2797.

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Some of our Happy Client

Reiss Edwards Awards

ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge
Lexology Legal Influencers
ACQ5 Awards Award ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated Three Best Rated
Department For International Development Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge University Of Cambridge
Lexology Legal Influencers Lexology Legal Influencers

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija dealt with my case and I found her very professional and experienced in dealing with my application. The care and attention to detail was exceptional. I would definitely recommend Reiss Edwards!".

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into steps that are easy to follow. Cruised to 3 successive wins on my Tier 1 graduate/entrepreneurship visa which allowed us to play our part in making the UK a better and healthier place!".

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee...

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Majlinda Berisha

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Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy. As a family, we...

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Saira Lawson-Brown

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Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recomme...

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Deepak Chartbhurjh

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Hakeem Salam

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"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled ...

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Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration...

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Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They ac...

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Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the a...

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Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is defintely not a routine decision. We had to ...

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Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my expe...

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Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a ...

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Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused...

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Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people....

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