UK's Global Talent Visa applications up 48% in 2020

The programme has seen a surge of interest from India, the US, and Nigeria

Woman walking through an airport on the way to a new career

Applications for the UK's Global Talent Visa increased 48% over the last year, according to a new report.

The visa, which is endorsed by talent network Tech Nation, is designed to help attract the brightest tech talent from across the globe to boost UK industry

Despite market disruption and difficulties caused by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, the UK has remained an attractive destination for overseas tech workers and students. Applications for the visa have grown significantly over the last two years; 45% in 2019 and 48% in 2020.

Of the 1,975 applications received for the visa since 2018, Tech Nation said it had endorsed 920 from over 50 different countries. The governing body is expecting this to increase in 2021, with EU residents now eligible for the route following Brexit.

"Tech Nation's Visa Report shows that, despite the pandemic, international interest to work in the UK tech sector has never been higher," said Stephen Kelly, chair of Tech Nation.

"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."

According to the report, 52% of those endorsed for the Global Talent Visa (formally the Tier 1 Visa) since 2014 are employees at some of the UK's leading tech firms, while 28% are tech founders helping to bring talent and capital into the UK. In 2020, the visa enabled 421 founders to set up business in the UK, slightly up from 400 in 2019.

International talent is also being spread across the UK, although London remains popular, attracting 59% of the applicants. Subject expertise is also varied, with app and software development, AI and machine learning, and fintech the most popular sectors.

India, the US, and Nigeria are the top three countries from which exceptional talent has come into the UK, with the Global Talent Visa and online searches of the visa increasing 100% in those countries.

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