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 . 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  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.
> 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.
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 
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:
"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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 levels.fyi.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Obviously anyone at FAANG is going to be at the absolute top of their field internationally so yeah select group.
Not as bad as having different insurance altogether based on your employer though, but similar.
So yes, obviously less desirable than making 400k in SF, but as far as Europe goes it doesn't get much better anywhere else.
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.
If you're on this forum all your potential employees will probably meet the requirements easily.
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
Bonus advice: Consider a lower cost city Edinburgh, Bristol, Newcastle, Brighton, and chase the startup dream rather than working at larger company.
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.
A reccomendation from me would be sheffield - great university and good startup culture as well as relatively affordable leases
One thing to bear in mind too, places like Edinburgh and Bristol have huge gaps...you 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.
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?
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."