My Global Talent Visa Story

A personal guide to the Global talent visa through Tech Nation

Published: January 26, 2024

Updated: January 31, 2024


Over the past 2 months, I’ve had conversations about my Global Talent Visa application and felt an article would be the best approach (I love writing articles already) to share my story. Considering how little information is out there, I hope this helps someone with theirs.

My testimony was getting a Tech Nation endorsement in 2 days. This article outlines my experience getting the Global Talent Visa, under Exceptional Promise, in October 2023 (applying from Lagos, Nigeria) and tips to send in a great application.

Global Talent Visa

According to the Tech Nation website, “The Global Talent Visa enables the best tech talent from around the world to work in the UK’s digital technology sector, contributing their cutting edge expertise and creative skills”. This is a Tier 1 UK visa that lets you work and live in the UK.

Benefits include:

  • The ability to change your job or start up on your own without needing to update your immigration status.
  • Your spouse and any children under 18 can come with you.
  • The total cost of application is only £716 per person (+ UK healthcare surcharge).
  • Join a network of over 2000 visa alumni members, to share your skills, knowledge and opportunities.

To read more about eligibility for either Exceptional Promise or Exceptional Talent, visit the official website.

Background

Before going ahead, I am a Senior Frontend Engineer with over 5 years of experience at the time of writing this article, based in Lagos Nigeria. My evidence documents are tailored to Frontend Development.

I got to learn about the Global Talent Visa in 2021 when an announcement was made on Twitter, and decided to read about it. At the time, the requirements felt a bit overwhelming and I wasn’t enthusiastic about relocating to the UK yet. I remember watching a Youtube video by Peace Itimi explaining her experience and kept this opportunity at the back of my mind.

‍Preparing my application took about 5 weeks. Thankfully I had the support of 3 friends that had gotten the visa to help with reviews and conversations.

Application

The Global Talent Visa application is divided into 2 stages.

Stage 1

The first stage involves applying for endorsement - this costs £524. As a tech professional, I applied under the digital technology route to Tech Nation. There are other routes available - Arts & Culture and Academia or Research

This stage involves filling the online application form. The main documents you need in this state is your International Passport and a valid national identity card (optional). You’ll be required to fill in personal information and information about your parents in this step.

Then you’ll be asked to pay the application fee (£524) which is non-refundable, and asked to submit your documents to Tech Nation within a few days.

This is the list of the documents I submitted:

1. CV

This was my regular CV which highlighted my technical skills, work history and volunteer experience

2. Personal Statement

This was more like an essay to address my intentions. This is an outline of what I wrote:

  • How my love for solving problems started at an early age
  • My academic achievements from Primary school to Secondary school (Best WAEC result in Lagos State), and the University (BGS, Faculty of Engineering, UNILAG)
  • My journey into Frontend Engineering and a brief summary of achievements both at work and contributions to the community (articles, mentorship etc.)
  • What attracted me to the UK
  • Why I wanted the Global Talent Visa specifically and what I planned to achieve with the opportunity
  • Finally, where I’d love to work and live in the UK

Note that this essay must not exceed 1,000 words. Mine was about 996 words (cutting it close). I wrote this when I was done collating all my evidence, it just felt easier to write this last.

3. Recommendation Letters

Thankfully, I had worked at 3 product-led companies. So I got recommendation letters from the CEOs of each company.

My letters were written ‍according to the guide and followed a similar outline to this:

  • A brief introduction by the author
  • How the author and I met and have worked together
  • Some achievements the author noticed and comments about my character and work ethic
  • Why the author considers me exceptional; and
  • What the author thinks about my prospects in the UK and possible contributions to the UK digital economy.

A few things to note:

  • You might need to jog the memory of whoever is writing the letter to ensure that some key details are not missed.
  • Feel free to share information about the visa guide. I shared the recommendation letter section of the document checklist and this guide to help each person write their letter too.
  • To prove that each document didn’t originate from you, it needs to be signed digitally. In my case, I requested for each letter to be signed with Docusign

Each recommendation letter had a page length of between 5-8 pages. This consisted of the letter’s body (less than 3 pages), the certificate from Docusign proving that I didn’t write it, and the PDF document of their LinkedIn page (instead of a CV). I merged these documents using iLovePDF.

4. Evidence Documents

I submitted a total of 10 evidence documents.

I submitted the following documents to fulfill the Mandatory Criteria:

  1. High remuneration for services rendered: In this document, I highlighted my salary at the time and show how this compared to the average Senior Frontend Engineer salary in Lagos. I added my offer letter and invoices of payment received for 4 different months as proof too.
  2. Publications: Over my career, I had been writing articles to share knowledge and they came in handy in this application and they had garnered over 100,000 views in total. I had 8 technical articles, all on Medium, but the last 2 were also republished on HackerNoon for a wider reach. In this document, I showed side by side the articles and their corresponding views (dates included). Thankfully, my last 2 articles were about Supabase, and the official account had posted about it on Twitter, so I included this to show the impact.
  3. Significant technical contribution (#1 Company): In this document, I wrote about my work at my most recent company as a Founding Engineer at Talentdrop (product-led organization) . The focus was majorly on innovation rather than impact because it was a startup. I included a few code snippets showing my Github history, Asana screenshots showing tasks assigned to me over time, progression of the product based on multiple iterations, and finally positive comments and compliments from the CEO and CTO in Slack conversations (with dates included).
  4. Reference Letter (#1 Company): To support my significant technical contribution, I requested a reference letter from the CTO of Talentdrop and she obliged. This was in the same format as the recommendation letters explained above.

I submitted the following documents to fulfill the Optional Criteria 2 - Recognition outside work:

  1. Mentorship: In this document, I wrote about my track record as a mentor on ADPList from December 2022 because of the structured mentorship requirement. I had written some articles (in 2021 published in my online notes) about my experience as a Frontend Engineer, one of which serves as some sort of guide and included this. Finally, I had been mentoring informally since 2019 and included this to show track record - WhatsApp conversations (dates included) with 3 different mentees where we discussed concerns, shared wins and so on.
  2. Volunteering and Talks: In 2019, I had built the website for Nielle’s Cookout (a Millenial/Gen Z event) whose theme was “How to rule your finances”. The website helped with ticket registration, vendor registration and information dissemination. I wrote about my experience as a volunteer - Software Engineer and also helped with sponsorship conversations with Flutterwave and PiggyVest. Fortunately, there were email threads, the website source code was live on Github, and there was a public directory of pictures from the event too with 500 attendees. I was also invited to speak virtually to a digital community group in 2021, where I gave a presentation about how to build an online portfolio. In 2022, I was invited to a Career day event at a secondary school (my alma mater). I shared the invitation letters, banners and media from both events

I submitted the following documents to fulfill the Optional Criteria 3 - Impact:

  1. Significant technical contribution (#2 Company): In this document, I wrote about my work at my first place of work, Formplus (product-led organization), as a Frontend Engineer. The focus was majorly on impact and how my work was instrumental to the business. I broke down my impact into about 5 different pieces of work, screenshots of the product’s progression over time and media mention of the company, and finally product announcements and positive comments from teammates and the CEO in Slack conversations (dates included).
  2. Reference Letter (#2 Company): To support my significant technical contribution above, I requested a reference letter from the Engineering Lead at Formplus (he had also moved on to another company) and he obliged. This was in the same format as the recommendation letters explained above.
  3. Significant technical contribution (#3 Company): In this document, I wrote about my work at Kora (product-led organization) as a Senior Frontend Engineer. The focus was majorly on impact also. I included media announcements of the work I had done that got launched after I had left and showed evidence to prove I made a significant impact. I included screenshots of certain product screens I worked on, iterations, and finally positive comments and compliments from teammates and the CTO in Slack conversations (dates included).
  4. Reference Letter (#3 Company): To support my significant technical contribution, I requested a reference letter from the CTO of Kora and he obliged. This was in the same format as the recommendation letters explained above.

A few things to note about these documents:

  • Create an evidence list when you start, this will help guide you while updating the documents. I created a folder on google drive with subfolders to arrange my documents.
  • It’s advised not to forge evidence because it’s wrong and can harm your chances.
  • Don’t be ashamed to reach out to former colleagues to help get evidence of work you have done.
  • Lean more towards storytelling, but be direct without unnecessary stories.
  • Try to include as much as you can in the 3 pages limit and favor clear images (screenshots). I had to reduce margins in my document to fit copy and images.
  • Include links to external resources as a secondary option. For example, if you need to share a folder of additional videos/photos, publications, github repositories etc. They might not check these, but it’s good to have them.
  • Try to format your document to look presentable and to emphasize certain information.
  • I created a sample folder for some samples to have an idea of how mine was structured and formatted: Global Talent Samples

These are all the documents I submitted in my application. I submitted in the evening on October 4th and got endorsed on October 6th (2 days later) in the evening. The endorsement came in the form of an email.

Then I moved to the next stage.

Stage 2

This stage involves filling another online application form. You might be required to fill in similar information as the application form in Stage 1. Ensure that you select ‘Initial application’ too if it’s your first time.

You’ll be required to pay the visa fee - this costs £192. You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application - this is usually £624 per year for each person applying (but it’s set to increase to £1,035 in early 2024). For a 5 years visa, you have to pay - £624 * 5 = £3,120. Note that you do not need to pay for the 5 years at once. I was advised to pay for 5 years at once by everyone that had gotten the visa though.

Afterwards, you’ll need to book an appointment for biometrics. I selected the Ikeja center in Isaac John, Lagos. I selected the “Self Upload” option instead of Assisted service and didn’t upgrade my selection when selecting a time slot. So this process was completely free.

I uploaded my Passport data page, Endorsement letter (print the endorsement email) and my Tuberculosis test certificate. To upload my documents, I ensured that the documents were clearly visible and I named them appropriately. E.g “Adeola Adeyemo - Passport”.

I took my Tuberculosis test at St. Nicolas hospital and it cost ₦60,000. It was one of the recommended hospitals by UK Immigration. You can book an appointment here.

My experience at the Visa center was seamless. I got there 1 hour before the appointed time of 9:15am, and left by 9:30am. I didn’t need to take anything other than my International Passport, its photocopy, and a printout of the appointment email. I had to pay about ₦9,800 (now ₦12,250) for home delivery of my International Passport. I got my Passport after 6 days.

Here are a few more things to note:

  • All payments were made with a USD Card
  • If you are applying for a dependent, you need to pay the application fee (endorsement), visa fee and healthcare surcharge for each person.
  • Pick early appointment slots for the Tuberculosis test and Visa biometrics

Final Thoughts

If you feel like you don’t have enough evidence, please give yourself time and don’t rush the process or fake anything. It’s always good to evaluate your chances early by creating a checklist and noting areas you haven’t done enough.

These might seem like a lot, but trust me that if you are consistent in your career about doing great work and also giving back to the community, it will be easier to put together an application.

I got a lot of help and support from friends while putting my application together, so I hope this can help anyone that’s considering applying or trying to decide whether to.

For further reading, check out the official guide, Anuoluwapo Sebiomo's story, Oyinlola Akindele's story, and an article on TechCabal.

Feel free to send a DM or connect on LinkedIn if you have questions. Wishing you the best.

Header photo by Lanju Fotografie on Unsplash

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