I’ve been very impressed with the high calibre of international students and graduates especially in the North of England who succeeded in their application for exceptional talent and exceptional promise. This is because these students and graduates while still very early in their tech career, have shown exceptional promise in the field of digital and technology. I have helped and interviewed Taras Lanchev from Ukraine now based in Leeds and Daniel Melendrez from Mexico now based in Manchester.
This blog is more personal as it is about my friend WeiTing Huang. WeiTing is from Shenzhen, China’s first special economic zone with a strong reputation for innovation and technology. She moved to Newcastle to study a double masters at Newcastle University; an MA Cross-Cultural Communication and MA Arts, Business and Creativity. It was during this time that she fell in love with the Geordies and Newcastle. She was also bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and co-founded Busy Backpack. Busy Backpack is a digital platform that helps international students get involved with local communities and events. Busy Backpack’s ethos is embracing creativity and diversity, connecting people from different backgrounds, and creating valuable experience for its members.
After her studies, she successfully applied for the sought after Graduate Entrepreneur Visa to allow her to remain in Newcastle to continue her business. Busy Backpack was so successful that she was granted a renewal of the visa for an extra year to allow her to remain in Newcastle to further grow her business.
WeiTing felt enormous pressure however, as her immigration status was not secure and she could not plan more than one year ahead for her business. This is because the Graduate Entrepreneur visa only allowed WeiTing to remain in the UK for one year at a time. Each time, she would have to re-apply and meet the criteria to be approved for the next year.
Therefore, when I told WeiTing about how I became the recipient and Ambassador for the Exceptional Talent Visa scheme, it was the golden ticket she so desperately wanted and needed to allow her the possibility of a 5 year visa to remain in the UK. This visa would also provide her with the security she needed so that she could focus on her business and the huge carrot of permanent residency after 5 years then UK citizenship 12 months later.
When I met WeiTing, I was temporarily based in Newcastle working as the Community Manager for Forge, a UK/China IoT accelerator Programme that assisted 10 international and national scale ups cross the border and enter China.
WeiTing became the Community Manager of TusPark, the newly opened co-working space in the heart of Newcastle City Centre who assisted me in successfully delivering this intense accelerator programme. With her innate knowledge of China and cultural differences between UK and China to her natural abilities in using We Chat, WeiTing was the perfect fit for the role. In a short period of time, WeiTing and I were not only colleagues, we became good friends.
It was partly because of WeiTing that I too, fell in love with Newcastle and ended up moving there. She was so friendly, welcoming and taught me all she had learnt about Newcastle. Looking back, WeiTing was my Chinese Angel from the North!
In the 3 months that we worked together and then the 12 months that followed, WeiTing immersed herself in the Newcastle tech ecosystem, meeting and connecting so many people together while running Busy Backpack. It was this advice that I provided WeiTing to help her with her own personal growth and development which in turn would help her business and finally prepare her for her application for endorsement. Because a big part of getting endorsed is to have made a strong and positive impact to the UK tech ecosystem or your own tech ecosystem.
While WeiTing was very driven in making her application successful, it was also because of the strong support network that surrounded WeiTing.
In preparing her documents, she received letters of support from the well respected founders of Newcastle Start up Week, Tuspark Newcastle Eagle Lab, evidence where she hosted and presented at events, acceptance into the highly regarded Ignite accelerator program and funding offers from VCs.
While WeiTing says that I helped inspire her to apply for the Exceptional Talent endorsement, she helped inspire me to move to Newcastle.
I’ve lived in a number of cities around the world and in the UK and I found Newcastle to be one of the most friendliest cities. The Geordies are well-known for their banter, their friendly and chatty nature as well their genuine reception to people who move to their city.
I know WeiTing will continue to work hard to help grow the Newcastle tech ecosystem, scale Busy Backpack, serve her 2000+ international community members and continue to make strong cultural links between UK and China.
Looking back, WeiTing advises anyone applying to
be confident, work hard and start preparing as early as possible.
Great advice from someone who has just been endorsed for exceptional promise so that she can now confidently apply for her Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa in digital technologies. Congratulations WeiTing!
If you would like guidance and help on the Exceptional Talent Endorsement process or appeals, I help highly skilled tech entrepreneurs and talent increase their chances and succeed in their application for endorsement. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for my packages of support.
If you would like me to assess your eligibility and answer your specific questions, please complete my questionnaire here.
This blog was written by Michelle Hua, Consultant, CEO & Founder of Made With Glove. In 2016, Michelle was the recipient of the Exceptional Talent Visa and is the former #TechNationVisa Ambassador. Michelle is Vietnamese-Australian and consults highly skilled tech entrepreneurs and talent working in digital technologies on how they can receive the endorsement for exceptional talent and promise. In 2019, Michelle successfully received her UK citizenship. Read Michelle’s other blogs on the #TechNationVisa here and Michelle’s own journey here.