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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa replaced by Global Talent visa on 20 February 2020

The Global Talent visa is similar and is also difficult to obtain with only a limited number of people qualifying.  One bit of good news is that there is no longer any cap on the number of visas available.  It now includes a new fast-track scheme arranged by UK Research and Innovation UKRI for world-leading scientists, top researchers and mathematicians for entry to the UK


This category allows a limited number of people who are considered to be leaders or emerging leaders in a small number of fields to enter the UK. You will need to come under Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa or Tier 1 Exceptional Promise criteria.  A big benefit of this category compared to the Tier 2 visa and Tier 2 Sponsor Licence scheme is that you can work freely for almost any employer or run your own business or be self employed.  Before applying for this visa applicants must first ask for endorsement by a recognised designated competent body via a UK Home Office application in one of the following fields:

  • Science

  • Humanities

  • Engineering

  • Medicine

  • Digital technology

  • The Arts

  • Fashion

  • Architecture

  • Film and Television

The Exceptional Talent visa is subject to an annual limit of 2000 places set by the UK Home Office.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Application via Home Office to Recognised Designated Competent Body

In the first stage you need to apply to one of the recognised Designated Competent Bodies to apply for the tier 1 exceptional talent visa:

• Arts Council England – for arts, culture, fashion, film and television applications;

• The British Academy – for humanities and social science applications;

• The Royal Society - for natural sciences and medical science research applications;

• The Royal Academy of Engineering – for engineering applications;

• Tech Nation – for digital technology applications.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Documents for second stage

Once you have the endorsement you need to apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa and must provide certain documents with your application.  Some people based in the UK can switch to this UK visa category.

  • Current passport and/or other travel documents

  • A separate passport photograph (depending on the circumstances).

  • A letter of endorsement from the designated competent body

  • A clear tuberculosis (TB) test result letter, if the applicant is from one of the countries on the Home Office's TB testing list


Length of Stay and indefinite leave to remain

The length of stay for this visa depends on whether the applicant is already in the UK. Those applying from outside of the UK can stay for 5 years and 4 months. Those switching to this visa from inside the UK can stay for up to 5 years. 

Those with have been granted a tier 1 exceptional talent visa can usually apply based on three years stay in the UK.  Actually applications can be made twenty-eight days before the end of the three year period.  For those on a tier 1 exceptional promise visa you have to wait five years (minus twenty-eight days) before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Time spent in the UK as a tier 2 general visa holder or on a tier 1 entrepreneur visa should count towards the period required for indefinite leave to remain.


Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Holders have freedom to work in almost any sector

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holders can live and work in the UK with few restrictions:

  • You can work as an employee for any employer, be self employed and run your own business.
  • You can work in almost any area.  However, for an extension or indefinite leave to remain you will need to show that you have worked in your specialist area at least some of the time.
  • You cannot work as a Doctor or Dentist in Training or as a professional sportsperson/sports coach. 

Further information, help, and advice has thirty years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the UK. and its associated companies represent clients in compliance with Section 84 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. In some cases we can submit your UK visa application to the Home Office to be dealt with on the same day.

For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at


You are in the archive section. The information on this page may be out of date.