The UK Home Office has asked for tenders for a new endorsing body to review applications from "Global Talent" looking to move to the UK and work in its digital technology sector.
Tech Nation had reviewed applications for the category since 2014, when the visa was known as Exceptional Talent. However, the UK government pulled key funding from the accelerator progam in 2023. Tech Nation has since been acquired by the Founders Forum Group and has continued to manage the endorsement process on an interim basis.
The endorsement process identifies if the applicant is exceptionally talented on the basis of a "proven track record of innovation", determined on the basis of grants, fellowships, acceptance to accelerator programmes, and "proof of recognition" that the applicant has advanced their field beyond their occupation.
In the year ending June 2023, 1679 Global Talent visas were granted by the Home Office, a 76% rise over the previous year. Since 2020, 3901 visas have been granted under the scheme which includes the fields of science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology, arts and culture.
The current government recently announced that the salary requirements for sponsoring foreign workers to be employed in the UK will be increasing by almost 50% from £26,200 to £38,700. So, an uptake in Global Talent visa applications is likely.
The tender that has been floated is an open procedure, meaning that any interested supplier may submit a tender in response to an opportunity notice.
The contract is worth £7.5 million and is set to last two years and four months, until 31 August 2027, with an expected contract start date of 1 May 2025.
It is understood that there will be no interruption between endorsing bodies and Tech Nation will continue to assess endorsement applications until until 31 April 2025.
Last year's changes meant £12 million in grant funding that Tech Nation relied on for operations and staff costs were instead awarded to Barclays Bank's tech incubator Eagle Labs.