Apr 24

Who can qualify for an Exceptional Talent visa?


Each year a limited number of people are able to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, allowing them to live and work in the UK on the basis of their leading expertise in a particular field.

The number of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) allocations available each year was recently raised from 1,000 to 2,000 for the 2018/19 financial year onwards, making this a route increasingly worth considering for those at the forefront of their professions.

Eligibility criteria for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa

Tier 1 visas are only open to those working in certain key industries and you will need to be a recognised or emerging leader in your field to apply.

The qualifying industries are:

• the arts
• digital technology
• engineering
• humanities
• medicine
• science

You will need to be endorsed as a recognised or emerging leader by one of the following qualifying organisations:

• Arts Council England
• The British Academy
• The Royal Academy of Engineering
• The Royal Society
• Tech City UK

You can find out more about eligibility criteria for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas here.

What a Tier 1 visa allows you to do

With leave to enter or remain as a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrant you can:

• live and work in the UK for up to 5 years and 4 months (5 years if you apply for leave to remain from inside the UK where eligible)
• work as an employee, company director or be self-employed
• change jobs at any time without notifying the Home Office
• travel outside the UK and return
• bring members of your family with you

However, there are some restrictions on what you can do, these include:

• accessing public funds, such as income support and child tax credit
• working as a doctor or dentist in training
• working as a professional sportsperson or sports coach

How to apply for an Exceptional Talent visa

There are two stages to applying for an Exceptional Talent visa, these involve establishing whether you qualify as exceptionally talented and whether there are any standard immigration issues, such as criminal convictions, that would prevent you being granted a visa.

For stage 1, you need to apply through the Home Office for an endorsement by one of the authorised organisations listed above. It usually takes up to eight weeks for a decision on endorsement and costs £456.

You may be able to get endorsed faster if you:

• hold a qualifying peer-review fellowship
• are a senior academic or research at a qualifying UK university, college or research facility

If you are a digital technology specialist, you can also receive an endorsement faster in some cases, if you:

• plan to work or start a business in certain key cities in northern England
• have specific qualifying business or technical skills
• are part of a team of five or more people who are all relocating to the UK

If you receive an endorsement, you will then need to move to stage 2 of the application process. This involves a separate application to the Home Office so they can consider the standard immigration aspects of your visa application, including whether there are any general grounds for refusal (previous criminal conduct, overstay etc).

You will need to make your stage 2 application within three months of gaining your exceptional talent visa. You can submit both stage 1 and stage 2 applications simultaneously if you choose.

The fee for a stage 2 application is £152 unless you are from Turkey or Macedonia, in which case the fee is £97. The fee for visa applications for all dependants is £608.

For help with any business immigration issues, including Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas, please get in touch with Vanessa Ganguin.