Ask HN: Did anybody apply for UK Global Talent visa? How did it go?

80 points | by boghy8823 15 days ago


  • qeternity 15 days ago
    I am on the (since discontinued) Entrepreneur Visa. The Home Office have very odd, bureaucratic rules around things and it can be incredibly difficult to meet the specific requirements as they will accept them. This means bringing in an immigration lawyer to handle the process and these run into the mid single digit thousands per application.
    • throwgt 15 days ago
      > the requirements seem intimidating

      Don't be discouraged from applying because of this! The UK parliament published a report stating that the UK gov failed advertising this visa with too stringent requirements [1]. In reality, you definitely don't have to be a Nobel prize laureate to get this visa, especially if you go through the 'Promising Talent' route.

      If you apply, the only thing you lose is £450 and some time. Even if you fail with your application, you can always reapply later, again and again, so there are almost no downsides to trying.

      > How did it go?

      It went well. :) People compare this visa to O-1, but I think it's better because you are completely free to work on whatever you want and you have virtually the same rights as a permanent resident, with the exception of having no access to public funds (e.g., getting unemployment benefits - you are still entitled to accessing NHS though). Compared to the Tier 2 General visa, the terms are amazing and it's worth all the trouble.

      What helped me most with my application were my open source work and conference talks. The hardest part was actually obtaining 2 recommendation letters (I believe nowadays you have to provide 3 of them). You need to find someone in a higher position, like CEO or CTO, who will write a letter for you. I was very lucky with this: I sent a random request to a CTO of a rather well-known open source company and to my surprise they were willing to help me. I'm still astonished by this and I can't overstate how amazing open source communities can be.

      Other than that, Immigration Boards [2] helped a lot with technical details - there's a dedicated forum about Tier 1 visas, so I'd recommend reading everything about other people's cases.

      Lastly, I do recommend applying on your own (without solicitors). The reason is simple: no solicitor will know about your achievements better than yourself! And the bulk of putting together an application is actually listing your achievements, so getting help in this would be a waste.

      Happy to answer any other questions you might have, and good luck with your application.



      • boghy8823 13 days ago
        Thank you so much for the great info! By any chance, does the CTO need to be part of a company that you worked/still work for?
        • throwgt 8 days ago
          Hey, sorry for a late reply,

          > does the CTO need to be part of a company that you worked/still work for?

          No, there's no difference, it can be any company. Moreover, there are no requirements about whether this company or person needs to be from the UK; it can be any country in the world.

        • kyawzazaw 14 days ago
          wow great info
        • maverick-iceman 15 days ago
          What are the advantages of this in a world which is transitioning towards remote work?

          The UK has the best and cheapest process to incorporate a company (it takes literally 15 mins and 40£ to form an LTD)

          And you can be CEO from everywhere in the world!

          Granted the country you are living in might receive your UK LTD bank account informations pursuant the Common Reporting Standard/Global FATCA [0]

          That opens a whole lot of considerations because odds are that your home country has a higher corporate and VAT tax rate than the UK or just wants to come after you for paying taxes there while using your native country roads , airports, IT infrastructure and hospitals.

          I had to look into this case recently: Swedish entreprenur owning a UK LTD , working (and hiring) remotely within the UK but living in Sweden

          Sweden says clearly that doesn't want any part of foreign companies incorporated outside its borders by its own citizens:

          [1]"Entities formed/registered/incorporated outside of Sweden (foreign legal entities) are not considered resident in Sweden for income tax purposes, not even if their place of effective management is situated in Sweden"



          • johnday 14 days ago
            The UK has a favourable human rights record compared to almost everywhere else in the world. It is a significantly better place to live than most countries on earth if you are in any minority category.

            Civil amenities are also significantly improved, as well as one of the most effective (physical) and cheapest health care services.

            For all the crap it has received over the last decade, much of it justified, it is still an excellent place to be.

            • i_have_an_idea 13 days ago
              > The UK has a favourable human rights record compared to almost everywhere else in the world.

              Julian Assange would disagree with that.

              > Civil amenities are also significantly improved, as well as one of the most effective (physical) and cheapest health care services.

              It is cheap, but it sure isn't as effective as private healthcare. Wait times on NHS treatment start at several months and can be years. I don't know about you, but waiting months to have a serious condition diagnosed and treated isn't what I'd call 'effective' healthcare.

              > it is still an excellent place to be.

              Oh, it sure isn't for tech workers. The taxes are very high, the public services you get back are shoddy, certainly shoddier than what you'd be able to afford with your job in the US. The salaries are 2-4 times lower, depending on your experience.

              On the other hand, if you're working at a low income job, then it's not too bad -- you usually can qualify for certain benefits like housing and min wage is livable in most parts of the country (except London). But, given the context, I assume OP is a tech worker and, for a tech worker, unless you're fleeing war or conflict, there are many, much better options. The US is the obvious one, but even working remotely from most central or eastern European countries is going to be a better experience and lifestyle than the UK.

              • johnday 12 days ago
                > Julian Assange would disagree with that.

                For all that he has suffered, I'm not sure he would. The bar is low.

                > It is cheap, but it sure isn't as effective as private healthcare.

                The UK also has private healthcare.

                > The taxes are very high, the public services you get back are shoddy, certainly shoddier than what you'd be able to afford with your job in the US.

                The taxes are quite high; the public services are certainly not shoddier than you can find in most cities in the US.

                > The US is the obvious one, but even working remotely from most central or eastern European countries is going to be a better experience and lifestyle than the UK.

                It depends what you value (personally I would like to be around people who speak the same langauge, for a start); and as I qualified in my post, whether you are part of any social minorities.

                • boghy8823 13 days ago
                  I had visited Edinburgh 2 years ago and we just loved it. However, we postponed our move because of Covid but now we are ready to take the plunge. I too, agree that central Europe is great from a lot of aspects but the language barrier is kind of a deal breaker. I reckon I couldn't get to speak fluent German or Dutch in like...never
            • tuvistavie 15 days ago
              In general, I'd say UK visa process and cost are quite terrible, to say the least. However, for the global talent, the harder part is to get endorsement, after which it should be relatively straightforward. A friend of mine recently got his through the research route and the process seems to have been quite smooth. I think it took about a month or so. For reference, he is finishing a PhD in a top US university and has a good amount of peer reviewed research.
              • robk 15 days ago
                I'm in the UK and know this team. Happy to talk over email if any questions. It's undoubtedly a fantastic visa and arguably the best in Europe if a passport asap is your goal. I'd venture nearly any regular reader here can probably meet the criteria and it's definitely meant to not need a lawyer to apply!
                • boghy8823 13 days ago
                  It's unbelievable how many people have jumped in and tried to encourage me. Thank you! Will get in touch if that's ok
                • klipt 15 days ago
                  If you can qualify for that, you might also qualify for O1/EB1 visas in the US which gives a fast track to green card.

                  From what I've heard London has similar high cost of living to Silicon Valley but much lower software engineering compensation, so seems a less desirable place for engineers to work.

                  • qeternity 15 days ago
                    London cost of living is nowhere near Silicon Valley. London can be expensive, but it can also be quite affordable.
                    • shankysingh 15 days ago
                      Specailly because public transport is amazing, living outside city is doable, while drawing comparable salary.
                      • bluescrn 15 days ago
                        Public transport is vastly more effective than anywhere else in the UK. But it's still pretty grim, hugely overcrowded at peak times, very unpleasant in warm weather, and that was before there was a deadly virus in the air.
                        • hogFeast 15 days ago
                          It depends what you mean by effective.

                          The requirements for public transport are far larger, and the region does get ludicrously lavished with funds for public transport (the recent expansions actually cost more than supplying the whole country with fibre...obv, the govt took the choice to allow telecoms companies to jack up prices 5%+RPI every year rather than cut back on projects that might lead to lower house prices for those in govt) but the train service in the South-East is comically bad relative to the rest of the UK along almost every metric (again, part of this is the load but...not all of it).

                          So outside London, you can just buy a cheap car, that is an option outside London (only Birmingham and Edinburgh are really undrivable). And if you are in any large city outside London, then the public transport is usually pretty good. Glasgow has an underground system, Newcastle does, Manchester has quite a big tram network iirc, rail is usually far better outside London, buses are usually pretty good (although not everywhere). The only issue that I can see people on here running into is the fact that there is a lot of housebuilding, and infrastructure in some of these new areas is poor...and, although cars are cheap, some cities are just shutting down all car travel from outside (Edinburgh is one, although it is sometimes difficult to distinguish what is deliberate and what is just incompetence).

                      • bluescrn 15 days ago
                        Affordable if you're earning 6 figures, or if you're prepared to live like a student, perhaps...
                      • itsbits 15 days ago
                        I don't understand as well..why are compensations so low in London compared to other places? I mean even if you consider cost of living..not good at all
                        • user5994461 15 days ago
                          The exchange rate.

                          London was relatively competitive when the exchange rate was above $1.5 for a pound. Note that it was approaching $2 for most of the 2000s until the financial crisis.

                          You could make bank easily in London as a contractor (very low taxes), maybe more than in the Silicon Valley.

                          Then over the last decade the exchange rate plumetted and the cost of rent/home doubled, while salaries and daily rates didn't move. Why they didn't move? There's too much talent and not a lot of companies with big pockets.

                          Most of the FAANG and assimilated that drove up salaries in the valley have no presence in London.

                          • yaseer 15 days ago
                            Agree with this.

                            Back in ~2007 when the exchange rate was ~$2 London salaries seemed competitive. I remember travelling to the US and everything seemed cheap.

                            In a post-Brexit ~$1.3 exchange rate, travelling to NY was painful.

                            • elemeno 15 days ago
                              Other than Netflix (that I know of) all the other FAANGs have big offices in London. Between them and the financial sector, there’s a fair number of very well paid tech jobs in London.
                            • johnday 14 days ago
                              It's current $1.37, which isn't too bad. Depending on how the next couple of years go, it may go either way. Sadly (for me), I think it's going to head towards $1 rather than $2.
                            • chrisseaton 15 days ago
                              My understanding is that London is extremely bi-modal. There’s £30k jobs and £300k jobs and not a lot in between. So you can get a good salary but it’s hard to make the enormous job to get into that band.
                              • twic 15 days ago
                                Something like this, but not quite this. The going rate for a good senior developer at a decent company is on the order of 80 - 90 k (maybe more). Where by "good" i mean "Pivotal Labs alumnus", and "senior" i mean 5+ years experience, and "decent company" i mean successful FTSE100 company or funded startup, since those are most of the data points i have.

                                That's base salary, and there will be pension contributions, benefits, maybe worthless options, etc, but not a stock package that doubles the total comp.

                                High finance and FAANGs with London offices pay much more - more base salary, and chunky stock or bonus packages. Not all of finance pays well - plenty of high-street banks pay their developers poorly (and it shows). I work in a successful trading firm and earn comparably to an L5 at Google, according to

                                Day rates for contractors seem to vary a lot, but 400 - 600 a day, maybe? The contracting scene is still adapting to recent tax law changes, though.

                                This is assuming we're talking about programmers. Median salary across the whole of London is ~40k. Tons of people earning 20k working in a shop etc.

                                • randomname2 15 days ago
                                  London day rates I've seen for contractors are more like 700 - 900/day on average at places that pay a bit better and 1000+ for specialists. And base salaries I've seen advertised for senior developers at funded startups (e.g. Wagestream, Truelayer) are more like 105k now (more for higher levelings - i.e. Principal/Staff).
                                  • twic 15 days ago
                                    Good news about the day rates! I wonder how much of this is about stack - most of my knowledge is of the generic Java development scene, and I'm extremely out of touch even with that now

                                    On the permanent positions, that sounds like a seniority thing. The people I know aren't staff or principal. I know someone who's sort of head of engineering at a small but healthy startup, and I think he's on 120k or something.

                                    • randomname2 15 days ago
                                      To be clear I was saying 105k for senior, and more than that for staff/principal.

                                      As to day rates I think it's rather about companies willing to pay a bit more to get better contractors rather than any specific stack.

                                      • twic 15 days ago
                                        Completely misread that, sorry! This is why i wasn't offered that kind of money.
                                      • cutthegrass2 15 days ago
                                        I hope to see day rate contracting adapt to the new legislation and make a big return, though i'm not holding my breath.

                                        As a data point, i'm London based, moved from £800 per day to £140k permanent position last year. "Lead Architect" role, whatever that means these days and ~18yrs experience in the industry. I'll be returning the contract work as soon as I see the market bouncing back.

                                      • te_chris 15 days ago
                                        7-900 is VERY high for dev contractors based on my view of the marketplace.
                                      • user5994461 15 days ago
                                        >>> Day rates for contractors seem to vary a lot, but 400 - 600 a day, maybe? The contracting scene is still adapting to recent tax law changes, though.

                                        Contracting has taken a massive hit with COVID and with the change in tax rate, that both happened almost at the same time.

                                        Contracting was definitely the way to make it in London. You could charge £500-1000 easily a decade ago with very little taxes. Depends on the skillset. I think that was made it on-par with what you could make in the Silicon Valley and NYC depending on the exchange rate (2016 Brexit really hurt).

                                        Some commenters may rightfully point out that it's not as high as L6 compensation, but it's much easier to get and you don't have to spend $60k for a year of college or a day in a hospital (that's the number one of my US coworker quoted for his daughter).

                                        • thawayuk 15 days ago
                                          L6 at FAANG, never went to college and numerous other engineers at my level and across the company haven’t either. Also never spent a penny on health care in the US. Fully covered with Kaiser and company plan I am in 30’s, so maybe due to few issues, but health coverage is good.

                                          Also, worked in London and TC of £500k+ was possible for an L6 after 4 years of refreshers and performance multiplier. Knew a few peers on packages closer to $1MM. Definitely possible, but maybe this is a small select group. FAANG are generally growing in London though. Easier to find talent than in the US right now.

                                          • ghaff 15 days ago
                                            At most US companies, certainly one of any size, you'll pay something for healthcare in terms of contributions to your insurance plan and deductible/co-pays. But the amounts are capped. The $60K may have been the "list price" pre-insurance for a hospital stay.

                                            And while the list price of private schools may get into the quoted range, 1.) Relatively few people pay the list price and 2.) There are (often good) state schools which, while not free, are a lot cheaper especially for in-state residents.

                                            • chrisseaton 15 days ago
                                              > maybe this is a small select group

                                              Obviously anyone at FAANG is going to be at the absolute top of their field internationally so yeah select group.

                                          • hogFeast 15 days ago
                                            The £ is trading at roughly the level where it was pre-Brexit.
                                      • exdsq 15 days ago
                                        First job was £21k in tech support and I lived in a studio appartment in central London (zone 1) with my partner who was an undergrad at the time. Still had as fun a time then as I do now on a fair bit more than that.
                                        • wreath 15 days ago
                                          People will tell you that universal health care and other such programs make up for the low salary (same as the "rest of Europe" - quoting since it varies wildly in quality across Europe).
                                          • ghaff 15 days ago
                                            People will say that. But I'd point out that if you're working for a typical tech company--or, indeed, most companies employing professionals--you're probably covered by health insurance through your employer. You're often paying for some of it and you'll have some out of pocket up to a max, but the amounts involved are likely modest compared to salaries.
                                            • wreath 15 days ago
                                              Yep exactly. it's important to remember that most of SWE are spared from the ugliness of the healthcare problems in the US yet enjoy higher salaries and lower taxes than most of Europe. So it's almost a net win in this regard.
                                              • M2Ys4U 15 days ago
                                                Not having one's health insurance tied to one's job is still a Good Thing, though.
                                                • wreath 14 days ago
                                                  I agree, but in Germany for instance, if you don't have a job you'd have to pay everything yourself unlike when you're employed, you pay 50% and your employer pays the other 50.

                                                  Not as bad as having different insurance altogether based on your employer though, but similar.

                                          • fridif 15 days ago
                                            People are masochists that don't know any better.
                                          • vultour 15 days ago
                                            COL is ~1k per bedroom in zone 2/3. I'd say average compensation for "serious" IT positions is 50-70k, you can get to about 150k if you work for a hedge fund or in senior positions at large corporations, after that it's very difficult.

                                            So yes, obviously less desirable than making 400k in SF, but as far as Europe goes it doesn't get much better anywhere else.

                                            • klipt 15 days ago
                                              > as far as Europe goes it doesn't get much better

                                              Sure, I'm just saying that if you qualify for a highly skilled visa you can probably get one anywhere, so it's better to compare options before you put down roots and you're subject to sunk cost fallacy.

                                              A UK passport used to be a great asset but after Brexit I think the value has gone down significantly.

                                              • ptr 15 days ago
                                                That compensation is on par with Stockholm, and that's in Europe. With a lower COL.
                                                • isatty 15 days ago
                                                  Not exactly EU, but it does. Switzerland.
                                                • digianarchist 14 days ago
                                                • tadkar 15 days ago
                                                  From an employer’s perspective, I’d be super interested in hearing about the experience of applying for this visa too! Does the UK government make it easy to apply? What are the interviews like? Anything your employer did that made the whole process easier for you?
                                                • carlsborg 15 days ago
                                                  If its anything like the prior Tier 1 program, I'd say it would be run very efficiently. (Time between applying to the approval letter == 2 or 3 weeks iirc for me.)

                                                  Its certainly one of the most startup-friendly visas out there, and despite the recent football press, the UK is a world class country.

                                                  - Mainly there are no earning requirements like the Tier 1 program had, so you can use your time to drive an innovative startup instead of chasing the relatively high (for this geography) earnings on every renewal.

                                                  - Indefinite Leave to Remain in 3 or 5 years (this is the equivalent of a Green Card) and passport 2 years later.

                                                  - And from the website:

                                                  With a Global Talent visa you can:

                                                      choose how long your visa is for, up to 5 years
                                                      be an employee, self-employed and a director of a company
                                                      change or stop doing your job without telling the Home Office
                                                      bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible
                                                      travel abroad and return to the UK
                                                  - There are no language or minimum salary eligibility requirements.

                                                  Bonus advice: Consider a lower cost city Edinburgh, Bristol, Newcastle, Brighton, and chase the startup dream rather than working at larger company.

                                                  • liberalbias998 15 days ago
                                                    As someone who lives in the UK; I wish our country and our businesses would train and educate our own residents better.

                                                    Also I wish our Government ever considered reciprocity for the people here; since the only places we can easily go now are England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

                                                    Having said that we do need talent; best of luck to applicants.

                                                    • cosmodisk 15 days ago
                                                      I honestly tried... Had a team of people with various skills,needs, and motivations. I not only encouraged to use the available opportunities within the business but also persuaded the CEO to invest in continuos training, heck, I even allocated time during work hours to do the learning at their own pace no questions asked. Nobody has gone beyond bare minimum,even when they had a chance to double their income in 2-3 years. So if people on relatively modest salaries won't do it,I don't know how else to push for it...
                                                      • disgruntledphd2 15 days ago
                                                        And the Republic of Ireland, due to the common travel area.
                                                      • hkt 15 days ago
                                                        As someone who lives in the UK, I would like to point out the only affordable city on your list is Newcastle. The rest are in the midst of a crisis of earnings to rent/mortgage costs nightmare.
                                                        • voisin 15 days ago
                                                          Everyone from any reasonably sized city in any reasonably developed country seems to be saying the same thing at the moment!
                                                          • RugnirViking 15 days ago
                                                            hah - although that is true, there do exist cheaper cities and more expensive cities. It's why many folks interested in startups are choosing places like Austin, Boulder, Detriot etc over NY or san fransisco.

                                                            A reccomendation from me would be sheffield - great university and good startup culture as well as relatively affordable leases

                                                            • illirik 15 days ago
                                                              A house in Boulder costs a million dollars nowadays! Maybe cheaper than San Francisco, but Boulder is up to Seattle prices
                                                          • hogFeast 15 days ago
                                                            "crisis" in UK terms...London is moderately expensive in international terms but has come down significantly over the past ten years as price growth levelled off, Bristol is rising but still pretty cheap (and it is rising because so many companies are moving there), Brighton is expensive but there are lots of other commuter options, Edinburgh (the city I am most familiar with) is not is up a lot because of AirBnb, HMO conversions, and the fairly strong economy...but it isn't expensive in absolute terms (you can rent a nice two bedroom place in the city centre for £1k/month) and it is nowhere on the map in relative terms. Buying is a bit more complicated...but, right now, renting in the UK makes more sense.

                                                            One thing to bear in mind too, places like Edinburgh and Bristol have huge can easily find somewhere in Edinburgh that is £400/month for one person, the area won't be great, I have lived in those places and the crime is usually drug-related so it isn't actually too bad (nothing compared to London, nowhere close) but there are options.

                                                            So this is a post about people coming to the UK to do, relatively, high paid work...this is nothing like most big cities in the US, Tokyo, Switzerland, Toronto, Sydney or Melbourne...London is pretty expensive, but it has come down a lot and isn't a "crisis" imo (if you don't mind living outside London and commuting...I will admit Essex is quite terrible though). As an example, lots of people coming here from HK, and (from what I have heard) they can't believe how cheap property is here.

                                                            • cosmodisk 15 days ago
                                                              London is absurd place when it comes to costs. It's very similar to NY, but then to find a tech job that would pay £100K+ is virtually unheard-of except some niche jobs in financial sector or super-ultra-specialised in tech companies. The same job with Google pays 2-3 times less than in the US..
                                                              • da39a3ee 15 days ago
                                                                > The same job with Google pays 2-3 times less than in the US..

                                                                Is that the case? (a) How does Google justify that internally? (b) Doesn't it cause a huge amount of ill-feeling internally? (c) If that is so why are there people elsewhere in this thread saying that FAANG jobs pay very well in London?

                                                                • digianarchist 14 days ago
                                                                  People transfer but whilst your base salary is adjusted, RSUs and options generally stay the same.
                                                          • boghy8823 13 days ago
                                                            Thank you! We are actually considering Edinburgh as we visited two years and just loved it.
                                                          • chrisseaton 15 days ago
                                                            It’s ‘visa’ not ‘VISA’. Why do so many people think it’s an acronym? It’s just a normal word.
                                                            • rsstack 15 days ago
                                                              Because of the company: "Visa Inc. (/ˈviːzə, ˈviːsə/; stylized as VISA) is an American multinational financial services corporation..."
                                                              • reaperducer 15 days ago
                                                                It’s ‘visa’ not ‘VISA’. Why do so many people think it’s an acronym? It’s just a normal word.

                                                                See also: Most of the Windows people in my company's IT department write "MAC" instead of "Mac." Few of them work with networking, so I don't think it's related to MAC addresses.

                                                                Wikipedia seems to concur that this is common:

                                                                "Mac or MAC most commonly refers to... Macintosh, a brand of computers and operating systems made by Apple Inc."

                                                                • disgruntledphd2 15 days ago
                                                                  Technically MAC is a makeup brand, but I guess that ship has sailed.
                                                              • te_chris 15 days ago
                                                                I’ve got the old Tech Nation one - about to finish year 5 next year. I hate the Home Office with all my passion though, £600 a year for this bullshit NHS surcharge is daylight robbery - a ridiculous charge invented by Theresa May to feed the Daily Mail and their braying hordes in 2015. Honestly, tell them to go fuck themselves and move elsewhere.
                                                                • rishikeshs 15 days ago
                                                                  I recently heard that UK is including India also in the talent visa program. I cannot understand how they are gonna cope up with the huge demand considering India's population and the limited number of slots(only 3000 for India).
                                                                  • miniyarov 3 days ago
                                                                    I recently got my endorsement in under 8 hours. There’s a great discussion board on forum.

                                                                    Definitely recommend the visa, given that it has a great guide by