Request for Review of Exceptional Talent Application - Time Sensitive Assistance Needed


I have been preparing for the Global Talent Visa for a long time, and I have been living in the UK with a Tier 2 (General) visa for a little over 2 years, working in the field of cyber security. I have a total of more than 15 years of work experience and I’m in the Ph.D. thesis stage. I have a startup in my home country and want to move its headquarters to the UK. I recently found out about this forum and became a member. I have paid for the Stage 1 application and must complete my application by January 26 at the latest. I would greatly appreciate any support and feedback on my application details and specific questions, as I have very limited time to update my files. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Any general comments or answers to my specific questions would be incredibly helpful. But the questions are:

  1. Could you please review my aspects that are open to improvement in order to be a suitable candidate to be an Exceptional Talent?

  2. Do you think my references are enough? If not, how?

  3. Do you think that the evidence documents I have prepared are weak? If so, how?

  4. What might be the claims that I need to prove in my application which does not exist in my details below?
    a) If I provide a notarized document proving my role as chairman of the board for my startup, does it need to be translated into English or is an original digital copy sufficient? Or there is no need for such a proof at all?
    b) Is it necessary to include a screenshot of my Tier 2 visa in my application materials?

  5. I would like to get your comments on the necessity of the following potential updates to my application (adding them as a new document or adding them in an existing one)
    a) Adding evidence of high salary offers from big technology and finance companies (3.5 times higher than the 2022 UK average salary)
    b) Including an academic reference letter from my Ph.D. advisor
    c) Obtaining a reference letter from my current company manager highlighting my achievements

  6. I organized my evidence documents as follows. Could you please provide guidance on how to effectively organize and present my Evidence documents, particularly in regards to choosing which optional criteria to emphasize and how to map them with my evidence documents?

Mandatory Criteria Evidence:
1-Startup Founder and CEO
2-Global Top Conference Presentations
3-Open-Source Project
4-Competition Awards
5-Publications and Ph.D. Level Academic Studies

Optional Criteria Evidence: (Beyond my occupation)
8-Sectoral Contributions
9-Media Recognition
2-Global Top Conference Presentations
3-Open-Source Project

Optional Criteria Evidence: (Academic)
5-Publications and Ph.D. Level Academic Studies

Optional Criteria Evidence: (Impact)
3-Open-Source Project

Optional Criteria Evidence: (Innovation)
1-Startup Founder and CEO
4-Competition Awards
7-Global Work Experiences
10-Endorsement Letter from a Mentor of a Startup Accelerator Program

Introduction About Myself
As a seasoned entrepreneur with over 15 years of cybersecurity experience, I am currently focused on growing my startup. I am a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Engineering and have an award-winning Ph.D. thesis in cybersecurity. My academic expertise includes 5 unique attack methods, 2 innovative defence mechanisms featured in 2 SCI-indexed journal articles and 8 conference proceedings, and ongoing research with potential patents. I made presentations at top global cybersecurity conferences on 4 different continents in the last 3 years. I have also served as an industry advisor and mentor for over 5 B.Sc./M.Sc. thesis mentorship. I was a key member of a big R&D company, where I established a cybersecurity R&D department and was the primary author of 7 R&D projects earning the company a $10 million government incentive. I then served as Principal Cyber Security Specialist and Product Owner at one of the biggest commercial banks in my home country, where I was promoted twice within the first 3 years of my tenure. I founded my startup in 2020 and was recognized by the government for exceptional R&D quality and strong commercial potential, receiving a prestigious grant and SME research grant from the government in my home country. I am now CEO and product architect at my startup, leading a team of over 10 and responsible for product development and business strategy. I am also a Senior Security Researcher at a global company in their London office and my expertise has made me a valuable asset to the UK cybersecurity ecosystem.

Application Form:
Please indicate your sector: Cybersecurity Please indicate your specialist skill: Security architect
Highest formal education level completed: Master’s degree
Highest professional qualification (if any): Ph.D. candidate in computer engineering (in thesis phase)
Are you applying under the eligibility criteria for Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise?: Exceptional Talent
What is the main reason you have chosen to apply for the route of ‘Exceptional Promise’ (rather than Exceptional Talent)? :
I am a digital technology and cyber security professional with a strong track record of success, including a successful startup, presentations at top conferences, an award-winning Ph.D. thesis, and an open-source project used by thousands, demonstrating exceptional promise in the field.

Letters of Recommendation
• LOR1 - Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Security at a mature international bank where I worked for 5.5 years as Senior Expert (Tech Lead) and Product Owner. The letter states that the writer had the pleasure of working with me, and highlights my responsibilities, outstanding contributions, and successes during my tenure with the company.

• LOR2 - Senior Manager in the Cyber Security Department of a global telecommunications company. This letter is written by an ex-coworker also who I did PhD-level research with, published journal papers, and presented at academic conferences together. The letter describes our professional relationship at a big R&D company, where I started the cyber security movement and created a successful R&D department, leading to the creation of important cyber security jobs and positive change in the career paths of dozens of people. The letter also emphasizes my technical knowledge and leadership skills and describes me as an influential and positive force in the company.

• LOR3 - Director of the Entrepreneurship Research Centre, the Accelerator Program that my startup participated in. The letter states that I, the founder of a cybersecurity startup, was a successful entrepreneur in their Pre-Acceleration and Main Acceleration programs between 2020-2022. The letter also states that I was open to feedback, improved quickly, and adapted my business plan and pricing model efficiently. He also mentions that my startup has good global market potential and multiple technological innovations and that I am a focused entrepreneur who has built a great team and carried out pilot studies with important financial institutions and telecom operators in my home country.

Note: All my references emphasized positive insights about what I will do in the UK and its possible contributions to my life and the UK after getting the GTV.

My 10 pieces of evidence:

1-Startup Founder and CEO
This document provided highlights my significant role in founding and developing my startup, a product-focused digital technology company that offers a comprehensive view of an organization’s security posture as a B2B SaaS-based business. As the founder, CEO, and product architect of the company, I played a crucial role in the establishment of my startup, which was incorporated in January 2020 after winning a grant from a Young Entrepreneurial Incentive Program by the government (of my home country). Later, my startup also won a highly competitive and prestigious SME R&D grant from the government.

The document showcases the company’s unique features, differentiators, benefits, customer success stories, and future plans. It also highlights my responsibilities as the CEO of my startup and provides evidence of my leadership and the success of my startup as a product-led digital technology company. Additionally, it indicates my intention to move the headquarters of my startup to the UK and grow it bigger from there.

The document also includes:
• Screenshot from a government incentive portal showing that I received the research grants, including the name of my startup, the project name, and my name as the project manager.
• YouTube URLs for my pitch at the demo days I participated in on behalf of my startup (3 of them)
• URLs for my startup in national digital media (4 of them)
• A screenshot of the notary-signed document indicating that I am the chairman of the board of directors of my startup (not in English)

2-Global Top Conference Presentations
This document highlights my accomplishments as a speaker in the field of cyber security, having presented my research at top international conferences more than 10 times in 4 different continents within the last 3 years.

The document also includes:
• A list of the conferences, my presentation names, dates, and specific URLs showing my name and presentation.
• 5 photos taken at different conferences while I was on stage or near the board, indicating my name.
• A YouTube URL from the conference’s official page for one of my presentations.

3-Open-Source Project
This document presents an overview of my open-source cybersecurity project. The project was initially developed as a hobby but has evolved into fully functional and potentially commercial-grade software. It offers a range of unique features and I claim that it is currently the most comprehensive software in its field.

The product has been showcased at top hacker conferences and has gained recognition and popularity within the cybersecurity community. It is used by thousands of practitioners worldwide and has also been adopted by major companies, including Cisco, as cited in their publications. I have also participated in a cybersecurity project competition where my project ranked first among 120 projects and received a prize from a national telecommunications provider who wanted to utilize the project after the competition.

The project has been used in my research and thesis and has been cited in several academic journal articles since 2016. I have collaborated with national standards institutes, telecommunications, and banking regulators on my research, and the open-source release of my project is used for security testing in dozens of service provider infrastructures.

The document also includes:
• A screenshot from a book by Cisco Press indicating the citation of the GitHub page of my tool’s open-source version.
• A screenshot of the public GitHub repository under my personal GitHub account, which has around 350 stars and 100 forks.
• A screenshot of the private GitHub repository under my personal GitHub account.

4-Competition Awards
In this document, I have presented evidence of my successful track record in entrepreneurship, innovation, and cybersecurity competitions. I have participated in a number of national competitions and have consistently received recognition for my work, including awards and high grades. This demonstrates my ability to develop innovative and valuable products that are relevant to the current market.
• In 2022, my startup was awarded the highly competitive SME R&D grant, which is only awarded to projects with demonstrated research and development and commercial value.
• In 2020, I was awarded with a research grant from a Young Entrepreneurial Incentive Program by the government (of my home country).
• In 2020, my open-source project was selected as the winner of a Cyber Security Projects Competition among 120 projects.
• In 2020, my Ph.D. thesis in cybersecurity was ranked first among 55 theses in a cybersecurity thesis competition organized under government sponsorship in my home country.
• In 2019, my hobby project (a cybersecurity gamification platform) ranked third among over 100 cybersecurity projects.
• In 2011 and 2010, I received awards in an intrapreneurship innovation competition in a big R&D company (with over 3000 engineers).

The document also includes:
• A screenshot from a government incentive portal showing that I received the research grants, including the name of my startup, the project name, and my name as the project manager.
• URLs for the competition winners and digital posts on social media.
• Photos showing the winners of the competitions (in my home language).
• A signed letter from the organizer indicating that I was the winner of 2 of their competitions and details of the awards I won.
• 2 photos from the award ceremonies in the Innovation competition (intrapreneurship) in 2011 and 2010.

5-Publications and Ph.D. Level Academic Studies
In this evidence, I have highlighted my strong educational background in computer and control science, and my ongoing Ph.D. studies in computer engineering. My Ph.D. thesis was awarded first place in a cyber security thesis competition organized by the government (in my home country) in 2020. I am also in the process of starting the patent application process for a novel caller authentication mechanism that I developed as part of my Ph.D. thesis. I have also published several original academic research papers on telecom security and have been working on these topics for more than 10 years.

The document also includes:
• A list of 5 novel attack methods and 3 novel defence mechanisms contributed to the academic literature.
• A list of SCI-Indexed journal papers (2 published (IEEE Open Access, Elsevier Computers & Security), 1 under revision (MDPI Applied Sciences), 2 ready to submit to top journals), where I am the first author in all of them. Only the published papers have URL links.
• A list of conference proceedings (8 of them) where I am the first author in 7 of them. Only 3 of them have URL links, as the others do not have public access to prove.
• A list of supervised engineering thesis as an industry advisor (2 master-level, 5 bachelor-level theses) between 2013-2019. Please note that I do not have proof documents for these.
• One of the undergraduate theses awarded by a government competition and I won the industry advisor award as a prize in 2015. Please note that I do not have a proof document for this.

This document highlights my successful track record in intrapreneurship within a large, established company. Specifically, it details my role in establishing and leading the Cyber Security R&D Department, where I served as the idea generator, funding proposal author, and product owner/architect for various cybersecurity R&D projects. The document indicates that I played a crucial role in the establishment and success of the Cyber Security R&D Department as a founding member. I received a total of $10 million in non-refundable incentives from the government on behalf of the company. During my tenure at that company, I made a lasting impact on the company’s history as an extraordinary employee and won first prize in the company’s inaugural innovation competition, which led to the establishment of a new R&D department comprising more than 100 engineers.

The document also includes:
• A list of the granted projects for that I was the core author, my role, and grant amount between 2012 to 2014.
• 2 photos from the award ceremonies in the Innovation competition (intrapreneurship) in 2011 and 2010.

7-Global Work Experiences
This document showcases my extensive professional background and notable achievements throughout my career, which spans over 15 years in the field of cybersecurity.

Currently, I am a senior security researcher at a global technology company, where I was granted a T2 sponsor visa, allowing me to work in the UK since November 2020. I have been residing in London since then.

Previous roles include being the Senior Expert (Tech Lead) and Product Owner of the Offensive Cyber Security team at a mature technology firm within a bank in my home country. I also served as the Founding Security R&D Expert Engineer and Project Architect at a large R&D company. Additionally, I am currently involved in 2 active startups and undertaking project-based freelance work on a global scale.

Throughout my career, I have played a crucial role in the development of novel cybersecurity products and services, have performed expert-level security testing of software, applications, and networks, and have been involved in the development of policies, standards, procedures, and guidelines related to software security. I have also conducted zero-day security research for a technology institution and delivered training on software security principles to both engineering and security professionals. In the last 2 years, I have worked with Fortune 500 companies in most of the work I have done outside of my startups.

In addition to my work experience, the document includes:
• A screenshot of a webinar I led for a prominent US research company in 2020, where I spoke about software security to an audience of 100 engineers
• Screenshots of positive feedback from attendees of the same webinar
• A company executive excellence award for a project I completed in 2022.
• A list of my instruction experiences between 2015-2021, which includes popular cybersecurity topics
• List of industrial certifications and well-known training I have attended (2 certifications and 5 training)
• Screenshots of the 2 certifications I have earned.

8-Sectoral Contributions
This document showcases my exceptional contributions to the cybersecurity field through my participation in national standards development, technical controls for regulatory compliance, and vulnerability research.

As a voluntary industry expert, I played a key role in the development of the national telecom security standard draft. I have also conducted technical controls for regulations of banks and telecom operators in my home country, and have contributed to the cybersecurity industry by adding 6 CVEs (Common Vulnerability Exposures) records.

In addition to my technical contributions, I have also made significant contributions to the field through my involvement in professional organizations. I served as a member of the supervisory board of the Istanbul Chapter of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association between 2013 and 2016, and am a member of various public and private communities. I have also been invited to conduct security research for various companies and the government.

The document also includes:
• A list of the 6 CVE IDs and titles (zero-day vulnerabilities in common products) that I discovered and reported.
• Screenshots of the Cisco and IBM CVE details, which credit me for the discovery.
• A screenshot of an invitation and acknowledgment of my participation in a private bug bounty program, including details of the security finding and award received.

9-Media Recognition
This document showcases my recognition and coverage in the media for my work and achievements in the field of cybersecurity. Examples of my media coverage include my interview on a leading entrepreneurship news portal discussing my startup, and the buzz generated by my presentation on the main stage of a well-known global hacker conference. Additionally, I received attention from online news outlets for my recommendations for security researchers at a conference at a university in my home country in 2015. Furthermore, my open-source tool was featured on the main website of a respected international cybersecurity conference organization. Additionally, I received awards in innovation competitions judged by renowned serial entrepreneurs in 2012 and 2011.

The document also includes:
• Screenshots of the media coverage mentioned and the URLs for the articles
• Additional URLs for further reading and information on my work and achievements in cybersecurity.

10-Endorsement Letter from a Mentor of a Startup Accelerator Program
This letter is written by a mentor at a startup accelerator program where I participated with my startup. The mentor, a CFO of a company part of a major holding company in my home country, attests to his positive experience working with me during the program. He notes my success in creating positive energy and being a role model for other entrepreneurs, as well as my well-known and trusted reputation in the cybersecurity ecosystem in my home country. He also mentions my passion for growing my startup, my ability to wear multiple hats, and positive negotiations for a potential cooperative agreement with a major partner network.

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I apologize for the length of my previous post and thank you for taking the time to review it in advance. I kindly request your feedback and clarification on a critical matter for my application. I have concerns about the validity and adequacy of my reference letters. Specifically,

  1. Would a reference letter from the Director of a Startup Acceleration Program I participated in with my startup be considered valid?
  2. Would a reference letter from my research advisor be more appropriate? (I will have it as a backup)

Your insights and support would be greatly appreciated as I have limited time to make this decision. Thank you.

I know there are some really interesting and engaging discussions happening on the forum, but I also want to remind everyone that there are people like me who really need support. :slight_smile:

I would greatly appreciate it if someone could take a moment to review my support request. I am grateful for any support provided.

@MtVhSnT Hi! I believe that as long as the potential referees have a good understanding of what you were working on & have had a relationship with you for 12+ months, both would be fine.

I think Tech Nation is a big fan of accelerators so that might be a plus, depending on the point above. This accelerator was not included in the list of approved ones by Tech Nation for a faster application process?

@MissUKVisa Thanks so much for your help! It’s a relief to know that it’s okay as long as I have a long-term relationship with my references. I’ve been hearing different things about the selection criteria for references and that was a big concern for me.

Even though the accelerator program I’m applying for isn’t on Tech Nation’s list, it’s still pretty well-known in my country.

I’m just a bit worried that I might have missed something important in the application process. Do you think there’s anything I should look out for or any areas I could improve? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

@MtVhSnT The only other think that jumps out to me is that some of your evidence seems to be older than 5 years old. Tech Nation is very clear that you need to make your case based on the last 5 years only.

@MissUKVisa Thanks! I understand the strict requirements on this, but it makes more sense to me that I can repeat some internal transformation success that I previously achieved, such as the one I did 7-8 years ago, and even better. From that perspective, I thought it would be helpful to mention some of the major ones in my application but I’m wondering if it would be better not to bring them up at all. What’s your opinion on this?

@MtVhSnT Ultimately the decision is yours, however when it comes to this process I would err on the side of caution just because TN seems pretty strict. But up to you!

Good news! I received the exceptional route endorsement yesterday. Thanks for your support @MissUKVisa

For anyone seeing this message:

I am now faced with the task of transferring my visa from Tier 2 to Global Talent, along with my dependent. I have some concerns about the Stage 2 process such as when transferring from Tier 2 (general) to GTV if I completed 2 years of being in the UK, is 1-year GTV enough for me before applying to ILR? And again is 1 year will be enough for my dependant as well?

The page is limited and unclear on these matters. I am seeking a more comprehensive resource that can provide guidance and clarity on this process.

Could you possibly recommend any resources or provide some insight on these questions?

Or do you think opening a new topic for that is more meaningful?

If you were endorsed as exceptional talent then one year on global talent Visa added to two years on Tier2 visa makes you eligible for ILR. However your dependents need to be in the UK for a combined period of 5 years.

Thank you @Francisca_Chiedu. That’s very helpful.

I have one more question:
While making the IHS payment, if my dependant has a “Tier-2 dependant” visa, should I enter the information in the “The person you’re joining or remaining with” field on the form, or should I enter the information in the “Dependent” field? - I think it should be Dependant, but the form is a little bit confusing.

Also, when I pay IHS, can I get 1 year for myself and 3 years for my dependent? I haven’t reached that stage yet, but the form seems like it doesn’t allow it.

I don’t understand your first question. If you apply for one year visa your dependents will only get 1 year. Dependents can’t get more than the number of years than the main applicant.

Thanks much @Francisca_Chiedu

What you say makes sense. Now, I am unsure about the best approach to take for my dependent’s visa in the UK. There seem to be two options:

  1. Get a 1-year GTV for me and my dependant. Then apply for ILR after a year for me. I am not sure what to do for my dependent’s visa and if there is such a thing as an ILR dependent visa to make it 5 years in total. I also don’t know how long the ILR process takes and if there is a risk of being without a visa during that time.

  2. Get a 3-year GTV for both myself and my dependent. This option may be more expensive upfront but would eliminate the need to renew visas in the future.

Which of these options do you think is better in terms of risk and cost? I would appreciate your advice.

I would recommend you apply for three years. It is not necessary a more expensive option as the extra two years IHs fee you pay now will be less that the visa fee and time you will spend doing paper work to extend their visa. In my case I need a 3 years visa to qualify for ILR but I applied for 5 years so my husband won’t have to go through the process of extending is visa. It is more straightforward.

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Thanks for your response @Francisca_Chiedu. Your information was incredibly helpful and I appreciate it.

Regarding the IHS payment screen, I am encountering some confusion with the form. The form requests information about my dependents, but also includes a question about my relationship with someone already residing in the UK (please see the screenshot below). I am unsure if this section is applicable to my situation, as my dependent and I currently reside in the UK and have no plans to leave. If I do need to fill out this section, I am also unsure if I should include my dependent’s current visa information or the desired visa information in that section.

Any clarification on this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.