What to expect from a FocalPoint visa sponsorship

As a deep-tech company dependent on specialist knowledge across our technical, operational and customer success teams, it’s vital we recruit passionate people with transferable skills. Sometimes though, this talent doesn’t always live locally.

In this blog, we hear from Senior GNSS Engineer, Ross van der Merwe, who relocated from Germany as a Researcher to join our company headquarters in the UK. Ross provides some top tips for relocating to a new country and what made his experience go smoothly.

Having worked for a Research Institute in signal processing for a number of years I was deeply involved with product development in GNSS. Working with the police, ambulance and military to improve the accuracy of GNSS provided a great foundation to the real life implications of GNSS. A particular area of interest was the importance of the receiver's resilience and robustness - essential to safeguard against spoofing signals.

When I saw FocalPoint were hiring and developing anti-spoofing technologies - there was a strong incentive to apply for the role and consider relocating as I have family in the UK. There are also more work opportunities for my wife, so after careful consideration, I applied for the role, was offered it and began the relocation process. There were many reasons that made this go particularly smooth; I've therefore compiled my top tips for engineers looking to join the UK technology sector with visa sponsorship:

Research where you’d like to live

This may seem obvious but most professionals looking to relocate will have a rough idea of where they want to work and live whether it’s Europe or elsewhere. For many international employees, not knowing the area is a major limitation. I knew I wanted to work in the UK for various reasons relating to family being based here, and work opportunities for my partner which meant she started work one month after I did - the timing was perfect. In general too, I feel the UK has many opportunities which the rest of Europe doesn’t have; English is an international language which makes it easier for that face-to-face communication that’s required in my role.

Ross 001

Learn about the companies’ culture

Joining a company with the right culture-fit has always been, and will continue to be really important to me. Work is where we spend a lot of time, so naturally it’s got to feel right.

Of course, if you’re job seeking from another country, it’s tricky to gauge the feel of the company so if you can, work with the hiring team to organise calls with colleagues from the different departments. Seek to connect with colleagues virtually or in-person (if possible) before you start - something I expand on below.

Connect with the team ahead of joining

Two things that really made a difference in my relocation process was connecting with their Founder and CTO, Dr Ramsey Faragher who was presenting at a conference. By proactively reaching out, we met at the event and were able to build a connection ahead of my joining.

In addition, I organised my BRP (biometric residency permit) collection dates a week or two before I started working. Visiting the UK for just a day was enough to visit the office, say hello to colleagues and have a mini tour. This really did make a huge difference to have that in-person meetup ahead of the official first day at work.

Ask lots of questions about the visa sponsorship process

Gaining a UK sponsorship visa is a complex process. Fortunately, this was my second time moving countries so while that part was familiar to me, there were still many new challenges to overcome.

From the moment I was in discussion with FocalPoint’s hiring team, they answered my questions super quickly to enable a quick resolve on issues that undoubtedly crop up.

So many questions arose during the application and they were able to support me by advising and explaining the fine print. FocalPoint's hiring team advised the level of rebate I would receive upon relocation to the UK. This helped towards flights, accommodation and other such costs relating to the move.

Maintain an open dialogue with your existing employer

The time frame for most visa applications makes the whole process with employers challenging - you have to juggle a lot of things.

There was always the risk that if I leave too early, I could be jobless for a couple of months so timing is key. If that happens, your visa can only apply for three months ahead of starting your first day of work, so I managed to get exactly three months before my first day of work. All my documents and application forms were submitted which can take three to six weeks but because of geographic area, this was increased to eight weeks. And in my case I was fortunate I got my visa back in 10 days, so that was fantastic.

Life at FocalPoint since relocating

My new team is great, we’re all at varying stages of our careers and with different and unique skills and so we can really support each other. My focus has been working with trialing our customer solutions, harvesting real time data, interrogating it, and essentially improving their results.

My first 6 months at FocalPoint provided many opportunities. I'm pleased my family and I made the move - thanks to the attractive relocation package and the FocalPoint hiring team. I’d encourage anyone seeking a role in the GNSS field to take a look at their jobs board.

If you’d like to connect on Linkedin, you can find me here.

Bristol office 1

Bristol office

More information on FocalPoint’s visa application process.

FocalPoint are creating some useful documents which will help support employees successful in their application, relocate to the UK. Each country is governed by differing regulations and UK visa turnaround times can vary. That being said, our priority is to help our people every step of the way as they relocate locally to our hubs either in Cambridge or Bristol. We promote the importance of in-hub attendance as part of our new Ways of Working, driving collaboration, the sharing of knowledge and social connection.