How South African developers can move to the UK without a job offer

The United Kingdom has seen increasing demand for technical professionals working in the technology space.

To accommodate this demand, the country offers a Global Talent visa in partnership with Tech Nation.

This visa allows you to work and live in the UK for up to five years, and you do not need a job offer or to be from a specific country to apply.

There are requirements around technical expertise, however, as the visa is aimed at people who show “exceptional talent” or “exceptional promise”.

Since its launch in February 2020, the visa has shown promising results, and it is reported that the UK government will soon announce a similar type of visa for professionals in the fintech space.

This may open up an avenue for skilled South Africans in both the technology and fintech sectors to move to the UK without needing to secure a job first.

“The Tech Nation Visa signals that the UK is open to world-class exceptional talent and is one of the best places for people to fulfil their tech ambitions,” Tech Nation said in its 2020 report.

“We have seen demand for the visa rise by 48% over just the last year, but we must ensure the UK remains a global tech magnet and continues to be the best place to start and scale a tech business.”

Eligibility and costs

Tech Nation accepts applicants under two broad categories – business and technical.

Technical applicants must demonstrate proven technical expertise with the latest technologies in building, using, deploying or exploiting a technology stack and building technical infrastructure.

Business applicants must demonstrate a proven commercial, investment, or product expertise in building digital products or leading investments in significant digital product businesses.

Candidates must apply under the Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise labels and must meet certain criteria.

Applicants must meet one mandatory and two optional criteria in the table below, depending on which label they apply under.

Exceptional Talent
Mandatory Show that they have been recognised as a leading talent in the digital technology sector.
Optional (Evidence of two criteria required) A proven track record for innovation as a founder or senior executive of a product-led digital technology company or as an employee working on a new digital field or concept
Proof of recognition for work beyond the applicant’s occupation that contributes to the advancement of the field.
They have made significant technical, commercial, or entrepreneurial contributions to the field as a founder, senior executive or employee of a product-led digital technology company.
They have demonstrated exceptional ability in the field by academic contributions, through research published or endorsed by an expert.
Exceptional Promise
Mandatory Show they have been recognised as having the potential to be a leading talent in the digital technology field.
Optional (Evidence of two criteria required) At least 2 examples of innovation as a founder of a product-led digital technology company or as an employee working on a new digital field or concept.
Proof of recognition for work beyond the applicant’s occupation that contributes to the advancement of the field.
They have made significant technical, commercial or entrepreneurial contributions to the field as a founder or employee of a product-led digital technology company.
At least 2 examples of exceptional ability in the field by academic contributions, or through research endorsed by an expert.

Applicants must apply to Tech Nation for a Global Talent visa based on the above criteria.

As part of your application form, you will be asked to submit a personal statement of up to 1,000 words in length which can include details on how you intend to contribute to the growth of the UK’s digital economy, and this will play an important role in the assessment of your application.

If you meet the requirements and pass the evaluation of the independent assessors, you will receive an endorsement from Tech Nation.

Applicants must then use this endorsement to apply for the Global Talent visa from the UK government.

The costs for both of these stages are listed below:

  • Stage 1: Application for Endorsement = £456
  • Stage 2: Application for Visa = £152

Tech Nation has published a list of example skills that may qualify for endorsement for the Global Talent visa. These are shown below.

Tech Nation skills examples

Most likely skills to receive endorsement

Tech Nation’s report on the first year of its Global Talent visa endorsements provides further insight into the skills that are likely to result in the acquisition of a visa.

It noted that employer demand for AI-related skills has increased significantly in the United Kingdom.

“The talent landscape is not uniform in the UK, and there are huge opportunities for exceptional tech talent across the nation,” Tech Nation said.

“In the UK, employer demand for AI has increased by 111% from 2017 to 2019.”

It added that demand for tech visas has increased drastically, and it is expected to grow even more following the exit of the UK from the European Union.

“As well as boosting the innovation potential of the UK, global tech talent is helping to fill existing skills gaps in UK tech firms – 52% of those people endorsed for the Tech Nation Global Talent Visa are employees,” Tech Nation said.

The graph below shows the tech skills that were most likely to receive an endorsement for a Global Talent visa from the firm in 2020.

Tech Nation endorsed skills

Now read: Takealot’s dominance in South Africa to be investigated by Competition Commission

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments

Recommended

Share this article
How South African developers can move to the UK without a job offer