UK Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa for architects announced

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The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Home Office have announced a new, Tier 1 exceptional talent and exceptional promise visa for architects. The new visa is set to launch on 10 January, 2019 after 12 months of negotiations to deliver a new UK visa scheme for highly-skilled architects to come to Britain.

Sanwar Ali comment:

The problem with the UK Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa scheme is that most people do not meet the requirements.   There are only a tiny number of top people who can come under this.  Probably in most cases people will continue to come under the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 visa scheme.

The RIBA will play a key role in adjudicating applications made for the new, Tier 1 architect visa, which is designed for those who have been endorsed in the field of architecture as a recognised leader (exceptional talent) or an emerging leader (exceptional promise), demonstrating or developing a track record for producing outstanding quality work.

Good news for the Tier 1 visa category

The announcement of the Tier 1 architect visa is good news for the category. In recent weeks, the Tier 1 visa route has hit turbulent times. Earlier this year, the Home Office investigated the Tier 1 investor visa status of more than 700 wealthy Russians, amid allegations of money laundering.

A number of high-profile Russian investors were affected by the investigation, including Chelsea Football Club owner, Roman Abramovich – who has since left the UK for Israel. Meanwhile, several Russian diplomats were expelled from Britain, amid claims that they were spies.

More recently, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid was forced to apologise over a farce involving the suspension of the Tier 1 investor visa. Early in December, the Home Office announced that the Tier 1 investor visa category would be suspended as of midnight on 7 December.

However, just days later, the Home Office was forced to admit that the visa had not been suspended as they had failed to secure cabinet approval. It’s understood that the Tier 1 investor visa is subject to a review, but is not currently suspended.

Freedom to work, run their own business and be self-employed on UK visa

The new, Tier 1 exceptional talent and exceptional promise visa for architects, offers freedom to work in the UK, run a business or be self-employed, with fewer conditions than the normal, Tier 2 skilled worker visa.

The Tier 1 visa category has attracted top talent to Britain from a diverse number of industry fields, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the arts. More recently, the Tier 1 visa route was made accessible to fashion designers, while the annual number of Tier 1 visas made available was doubled earlier in 2018, from 1,000 to 2,000.

According to the RIBA, one in five architects employed in Britain today, were born outside the UK, signifying that international talent has been crucial to the country’s development as a world-leading hub for architectural excellence.

Chief Executive of the RIBA, Alan Vallance, said: “This is a significant recognition of the UK’s place as a global hub for architectural excellence. It is critical that the architecture sector can attract international talent, and we hope that architects across the world will seriously consider looking at applying to work in the UK on this route.”

We are delighted to have worked with the UK government and Arts Council England to bring the Tier 1 visa to the architecture sector,” Vallance added.

UK immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, said: “The new visa will bolster the UK’s already global reputation for innovative architectural design. The UK’s architecture sector brings significant benefits to our economy and society.”

Further information, help, and advice for Tier 1 Visa schemes’s team of specialists has 30 years of experience in immigration services, and has helped thousands of people to study, work, invest and live in the UK. We represent clients under Section 84 of the 1999 Immigration Act, and we can advise and assist with your UK visa application.

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