How to Apply for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa?
A foreigner can apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa in three different ways:
- Initial visa application for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – This application is done when the candidate is out of the UK and wants to enter the country. In such case, they need to apply for an Entry Clearance (EC) or visa to enter in a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
- Visa application to switch into Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – This application is done when the candidate is within the UK with another temporary visa (known as Leave to Remain) and wants to switch into Tier 1 Exceptional Talent from such a visa;
- Visa application to extend a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – This application is done when the candidate is in the UK with a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent and wants to stay even longer. The application to extend the stay in the UK should be done right before the end of the existing visa period, not after the expiration of such visa.
Who needs a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa?
This visa type is given to exceptionally talented foreign persons who want to work in the UK and they are internationally distinguished as eminent figures in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology, or have the potential to become global leaders of their respective field, in the future. They must not be from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
With a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, one can enjoy benefits such as:
- Change jobs – without the approval from the Home Office;
- Launch their own business;
- Perform voluntary work;
- Work in whichever sector;
- Get promoted in a job;
- Does not need a sponsor to get a visa or to extend it;
- Bring family and/or other dependents in the UK.
Visa application fees for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
Regular visa application
|Types of applicants||Application fee|
|The majority of applicants||£293|
|Turkish or Macedonian nationals||£238|
|Applicants||Online or by post||In Person|
|The majority of applicants||£585||£1,175|
|Turkish or Macedonian nationals||£530||£1,120|
Note: The endorsement letter is not required when extending a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
|Applicants||Online or by post||In Person|
|The majority of applicants||£293||£883|
|Turkish or Macedonian nationals||£238||£828|
How to apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
This visa type is somewhat more specific because it has two stages of completing the visa application as below:
- The Endorsement (Validation) Stage;
- Application for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa
Stage 1 – The Endorsement
Visa candidates cannot be called as Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise (World Leader and Potential World Leader) in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent if they do not undergo the endorsement first, which qualifies or disqualifies them from such title.
The endorsement for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) is not a visa application; therefore, only skills, education, capabilities and other career related evidencing documents of the candidate are evaluated at this stage.
The application for endorsement should be submitted to the home office online. Costs of application for endorsement of any candidate are £292.
There is no open possibility to apply for endorsement in person (exclusively online).
There is no fee for application in the stage 1 for dependents of the candidate.
There are five Designated Competent Bodies authorized to evaluate applications for endorsement, to make sure that candidates for endorsement meet the necessary criteria.
Authorized Designated Competent Bodies by the Home Office are:
- Arts Council England – arts and culture;
- Royal Academy of Engineering – engineering;
- Tech City UK – digital technology;
- The British Academy – humanities and social science;
- The Royal Society – natural sciences and medical science research.
Each of the aforementioned bodies is authorized to evaluate applications coming from their specific field of expertise.
The application, neither the results of the endorsement do noy have any consequence on the visa that the candidate holds now (if applying from within in the UK).
The candidate is allowed to send an application for review of the endorsement if the endorsement application is refused.
Criteria for Endorsement
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa candidates must fulfill some conditions, as a form to receive the endorsement before applying for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.
Requirements for endorsement are revealed in the following:
To qualify as an Exceptional Talent, the candidate must:
- Work as a Researcher at the time of application– In a research institution, university or industry;
- Hold a PhD Degree – Instead, researches work to a level equal to a PhD degree is acceptable too;
- Have a Personal Recommendation Letter – Supporting the candidate’s application as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – issued by a leading person that strictly knows the candidate’s contribution and work within the specific field as this person is competent to appraise the applicant as a world leader.
Additionally, the candidate should meet at least one of the following conditions:
- Should be a member of their home Country National Academy;
- Should have received an Internationally Recognized Prize;
- Should have a Personal Recommendation Letter – Issued from an eminent UK establishment specialized in the related research area to the expertise of the candidate (an official letter from a senior staff member, i.e. Head of the establishment, vice-CEO or else).
Candidates at the moment working at the University of Cambridge as a professor or similar positions are the first candidates expected to be entitled Exceptional Talents.
Specific Criteria applied by Arts Council England can be found here;
Specific Criteria applied by Tech City UK here.
Criteria for Endorsement of an Exceptional Promise
To qualify as an Exceptional Promise, the candidate must:
- Work as a Researcher at the time of application – In a research institution, university or industry;
- Have a PhD Degree – Alternatively, a research work equal to PhD degree is acceptable too;
- Have a Personal Recommendation Letter – Supporting the candidate’s application as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – from a leading person that strictly knows the candidate’s contribution and work within the specific field as this person is competent to appraise the applicant as a potential world leader;
- Be in the first steps of their career;
- Won any of these prices (in the last 5 years):
- A Prestigious Research Fellowship Award (located in the UK);
- International Fellowship Award;
- Advanced Research Job
Postdoctoral researchers, working in an internationally prestigious research institution, for minimum five years, are the first candidates to become exceptional promises.
There is only a limited number of 1000 endorsements done every year (in the period 6 April – 5 April of the next year). This number is divided into two phases, where in the first phase 500 endorsements are made between 6 April – 30 September; while, in the second phase, the other 500 endorsements take place between 1 October – 5 April.
The Endorsement Process
This is a two-step process, where:
Step 1 – Assessment of the eligibility of application documents submitted
At this phase, submitted application documents of the candidate are checked only, to make sure they are complete and in the right format. Candidates who pass this stage can then undergo the full endorsement assessment, which may lead to an endorsement or not;
Step 2- Complete assessment of application documents
At this phase, a detailed and tough assessment of the candidate’s application and supporting documents takes place, where only the strong sides of the application are to be count.
Elements of this assessment are:
- Career records/top achievements – Global position of the candidate, importance of publications, patents, awards and research funds taken, innovations and their impact;
- Strong points of Letters of Recommendation;
- The benefits that the candidate can bring into the UK
The welfare the candidate can bring in research sphere, in society, economy and beyond
Questions for assessment in the category of Exceptional Talent candidates are:
- Is it the candidate a prestigious prize or award winner?
- Is it the candidate a winner of any big fund within the last 10 years?
- Is it the candidate globally considered as a leader in their field?
Questions for assessment in the category of Exceptional Promise Applicants are:
- Has the candidate offered enough evidence for this category?
- How big the funding was, received during or after the contract of the relating fellowship with the field they are applying?
- Is it the candidate a winner of a relating prize or award for early career researchers?
- Is there any contribution that candidate counts relating to their field and their career stage?
General Documents to Apply for the Endorsement
To have a successful application for endorsement candidates of both categories (Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise) must send these documents:
- Designated competent bodies’ Tier 1 Exceptional Talent application form – Duly completed;
- An updated short CV – Including candidate’s professional career and publications;
- The Recommendation Letter – Issued by an important person that confidently knows the candidate’s work and contribution in relating field, since this person is competent to appraise the applicant as a world leader.
The letter must contain the following information:
- Circumstances in which the candidate and the issuer of the letter are introduced to each other;
- Achievement of the candidate in the respective field;
- The way (reasons) the issuer considers the candidate a world leader;
- The way the issuer considers the candidate would take advantage of living in the UK;
- In issuer’s perspective, the way the contribution of the candidate would add value to the UK research quality and to the world.
- Any document from the aforementioned qualifying requirements – For the world leaders’ category only
The final decision about the endorsement is independent from the Home Office and completely in the hands of the Designated Competent Body.
As the endorsement application is in the evaluation, the candidate can travel abroad the UK (if they are within the UK and if has a visa that allows them to do so).
One can apply for endorsement, even if the candidate presently has a visa that does not allow them to switch to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent from another visa (if they are within the UK).
Closure of the Endorsement Stage
The endorsement stage closes with one of following three scenarios:
- Qualifies the candidate as an Exceptional Talent (World Leader) – if the candidate fulfills criteria for this category;
- Qualifies the candidate as an Exceptional Promise (Potential World Leader) – if the candidate fulfills criteria for this category;
- Disqualifies the candidate from getting any of the following titles – if the candidate cannot fulfill the endorsement criteria for any of the above categories
The decision on the endorsement by the Designated Competent Body is generally given within two months. However, a faster decision is given to applicants with specific situations.
Successful candidates can anymore apply for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, either for an EC or LR, but only if:
- They offer the Letter of the Endorsement – not older than 3 months;
- Their Endorsement is not withdrawn meanwhile by the Designated Competent Body
Stage 2: Visa Application for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
The visa application should be made not later than three months from getting the letter of endorsement.
Candidates already living in the UK with a valid visa, need to apply for a visa extension of their current visa (before it expires) if they want to remain in the UK for longer.
There are four types of applications done for this visa Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa:
- Switch to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent LR – If the candidate is already in the UK with another visa type;
- Enter with a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent EC – If the candidate is outside the UK;
- Extend the existing Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – if the candidate is already in the UK with a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa and wants to stay longer;
- Settle in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – if the candidate has reached the criteria to apply for ILR, including the continuous period of stay lawfully in the UK
Visa Requirements for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa
A candidate applying for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, an EC, either LR, or ILR, must be able to meet the following general criteria:
Additionally, a candidate has to fulfill SPECIFIC criteria, depending on which of three subcategories they are applying, as we will clarify in the following parts.
Entering into the UK with a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
A foreign person who wants to come to the UK as either an exceptional talent or promise, cannot enter into the UK without getting an EC in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.
Visa Requirements for Entry Clearance (EC) in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
A foreign person who is ready to apply for an EC as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent is one who has:
- Fulfilled General Requirements of Application for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
- 75 Points in Attributes for EC or LR in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Migrant ;
- The Unconditional Written Consent of the Sponsor to the visa Application
Staying the UK Temporarily in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
A foreigner cannot remain in the UK as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent if it does not get the LR before their EC expires.
LR as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent permits holders to stay in the UK for a specific period, before extending the current visa.
Visa Requirements for Leave to Remain (LR) in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
A foreign person who is ready to apply for a LR as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent is one who has:
- Fulfilled General Requirements of Application for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
- 75 Points for Attributes for EC or LR in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Migrant;
- Has at the moment or before an EC or LR in any of these visa categories:
- Tier 1 Migrant;
- Tier 2 Migrant
- Tier 5 Temporary Worker – financed by the Government in the sub-category of sponsoring researcher exchange scheme
When the candidate wants to switch to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa from any other visa type that they hold now (except for the aforementioned visas), should exit the UK and apply from there.
- Stayed in the UK only with a visa – The candidate must not have any history of overstaying in the UK after visa expiring date. Except for the cases presented here.
How much you can stay in the UK with EC and LR as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent & Limitations
EC in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent is given for one to five years and four months, and up to the candidate’s requested time.
LR in the same visa category is given for one year to five years and up to the candidate’s requested time.
To hold an EC or LR in this category, a candidate must be of the following circumstances:
- Not take public funds of any type;
- Must be registered with the police;
- Must not get a job in the UK as a Doctor or Dentist in Training;
- Must not get a job as a professional sportsperson – Not as a sports trainer either;
- Must meet the Condition to hold an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate
For candidates aged 18-over when given a visa, or, who will become 18 before the termination of the visa period;
Stay for an Unlimited Time in the UK with a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
A foreigner who can apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent is one who has stayed legally for three five continuous years in the UK involved in the business life.
The application for ILR must be made within the valid period of the previous leave.
Visa Requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
A foreign person who is ready to apply for an ILR or for settlement as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent is one who has:
- Fulfilled General Requirements of Application for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
- 75 Points in Attributes for ILR in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Migrant ;
- Lived in the UK for five continuous lawful years, where the candidate:
- Holds or their last visa was a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent;
- During such period held any Tier 1 visa (except for Graduate Entrepreneur, Post-Study Work) of Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer
- Necessary understanding of the English Language and Life in the UK
- Stayed in the UK only with a visa
The candidate must not have any history of overstaying in the UK after visa expiring date. Except for the cases presented here.
There is no limit as regards the time one can spend in the UK as a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. As a result, such visa holder can anytime (when needed) apply to extend this visa.
Visa extension can be done either from the UK and when away the UK (if having the authorization to live outside the UK for maximum six months);
Every time applying to extend the visa, the candidate should show documents of being paid for the job done in the UK.
Switch into Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
There are limited visa types that can be switched to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.
Visas that can be switched to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent are:
- Any Tier 1
- Any Tier 2;
- Tier 5 Temporary Worker – if the holder was financially supported in the government sub-category of sponsored researchers in an exchange scheme.
Holders of other visa types except for the aforementioned must return into their home country to apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.
There is a limited time of three years one can stay in the UK with a switched visa to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent.
To switch the present UK visa for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, the candidate must first be endorsed either as an Exceptional Talent or as Promise.
Application types to Switch into Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
- Usually, the applications for endorsement are done online, same as applicants outside the UK. Other forms include applying by post or in person.
- If you are applying by post, the candidate must submit your duly completed Application Form for Switching to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa to the address included in the form.
- To apply in person the candidate must first book an appointment, then go to one of the Visa Premium Service Centers, and submit the application form for evaluation.
This will cost £590, where the additional payment of the Healthcare Surcharge for the required period of visa will take place.
When switching the visa to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, the candidate must also offer their biometric information at authorized Post Offices, such as a photo and fingerprints, a service that costs £19.20. If the candidate is approved for switching the visa, they will automatically receive the Biometric Residence Permit.
The candidate is allowed to remain in the UK until the decision on their application for visa change
Additional Clarifications for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
Points for attributions in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
For candidates applying for EC or LR in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa:
- Seventy-five points – are given if the candidate is endorsed as an Exceptional Talent by the competent endorsing body, and if the candidate now does not hold, or their last visa was not a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent;
For candidates applying for EC or LR and for ILR in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa:
- Seventy-five points – are given if the candidate, by holding a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa generated incomes as a result of their employment or self-employment activity in the UK as an expert in their field, where they previously got endorsed by the competent body, and since then that endorsement was not removed.
Documents to confirm previous incomes
To verify your incomes generated from the work done in the UK as an exceptional talent, a candidate need to offer specific acknowledged documents.
Documents to verify money received from the work as an Employee or a Director of a Limited Responsibility Company are the following:
- Original Employer’s Pay Slips – Original, showing employer’s name;
- Alternative Pay Slips together with an Employer Letter – The letter must confirm the amount of incomes made by the candidate;
- Personal Bank Statements – They need to show all amounts of either payments made to candidate from an employer or a limited responsibility company, printed in the official bank notepaper;
- Electronic Personal Bank Statements & A Supporting Bank Letter – The letter must hold the official confirmation of the bank, about the amount of payments presented in the electronic statement, holding the signature of the bank representative and stamp of the bank.
- The Official Tax Document – Issued by HM Revenue & Customs, or employer presenting the amount of salary on which your taxes were paid. An Official tax documents can be either:
- Issued by HMRC – presenting declarable taxable incomes per year of the candidate;
- Issued by Employer – presenting salary based on which taxes are paid per year;
- Issued by an Individual or business – presenting salary based on which taxes are paid per year;
Note: Documents not issued by HMRC must be stamped and approved by HMRC.
- Dividend Vouchers – Displaying each gross and net dividend received by candidate from the company from a share of their profits.
Documents to verify money received from the work as a self-employed are:
- Accountant’s Letter – An official letter, printed in an official notepaper, that shows:
- gross and net payments
- analysis of wage
- tax-credits and the related dates
- the explanation that incomes are a product of a net profit share
Note: This must be produced by a qualified chartered accountant or certified accountant that is a member of a registered institution in the UK;
- Business Financial Accounts – An official displaying net profit and loss of the business, with a balance sheet (signed by the director)
Documents to verify money received from the work as a sponsored researcher:
- An Official Letter from Hosting Research Institution – That displays:
- name of the candidate
- name of the sponsor
- name of the research institution
- research title of the candidate
Documents to verify money received from other work types:
- Work Contract and/or Official Letter from the Employer
- An Official Letter from the Hosting Institution
Maintenance (money) in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
A candidate for this visa is not required to offer evidence that they are able to cover their dependents’ living and accommodation costs while in the UK.