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Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visas

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you’ve been endorsed in your field in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts as:

  • a recognised leader (exceptional talent)
  • an emerging leader (exceptional promise)

You must also be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

Speak to our assessment team now to confirm your eligibility and options for free on 0203 384 4389.

Further Information

Application Process

There’s a 2-stage application process to get this visa.

You first need to apply to the Home Office for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in your particular field.

Then, once you have been endorsed, you can apply for the visa.

There are 2,000 places available under this visa category between 6 April to 5 April of the following year.

How long it will take

After you get your endorsement, the earliest you can apply for a visa is 3 months before you travel.

Example:

You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.

How long you can stay

You can stay in the UK for up to:

  • 5 years and 4 months if you apply outside the UK
  • 5 years if you apply inside the UK

You can choose how long you want to apply for, up to the maximum time allowed. You only have to pay the healthcare surcharge for the amount of time you choose to stay.

You can apply to extend this visa for up to another 5 years.

You can apply for settlement once you’ve been in the UK for:

  • 3 years with an exceptional talent visa
  • 5 years with an exceptional promise visa

What you can and can't do

You can:

 

  • work – for an employer, as a director of a company or be self-employed
  • change jobs without telling the Home Office
  • do voluntary work
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • bring family members with you

You can not:

  • get public funds
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach

Eligibility

To get a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, you need to be endorsed as a leader (exceptional talent) or emerging leader (exceptional promise) in one of the following:

 

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

How to get endorsed

You can apply online.

If you’re a digital technology specialist you’ll also need to apply for a Tech Nation Visa Scheme endorsement.

How long it takes

You’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks.

You may get a faster decision if you’re a digital technology specialist and one of the following applies:

  • you’ve been accepted onto a recognised UK accelerator programme
  • you’re part of a senior management team that has experience in building and expanding a digital technology business
  • you plan to work and live outside of Greater London

You may also get a faster decision if you either:

  • hold an approved peer-reviewed fellowship
  • are a senior academic or senior researcher at a UK university, college or research institute – check with your employer whether your role is eligible

What happens next

If you’re successful you’ll receive an email from the Home Office with a copy of your endorsement letter. You’ll need these for your visa application.

You will not automatically get a visa if you’ve been endorsed. If your application is turned down you can request an endorsement review.

You must apply for your visa within 3 months of receiving your letter of endorsement from the Home Office.

Documents you must provide

When you apply for your visa you’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • a printed copy of your endorsement letter
  • your if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

You need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa.

You need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Extend your visa

You can apply to extend your visa if:

  • the organisation that endorsed you has not withdrawn its approval
  • you can provide evidence that you’re currently working in your expert field – the guidance notes have a full list of acceptable evidence

You should apply before your current visa expires.

How long you can stay

A Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa can be extended for up to 5 years.

How long it takes

You should get your visa:

  • within 8 weeks if you apply online or by post in the UK
  • usually on the same day if you use the premium service in the UK
  • within 3 weeks if you apply outside the UK

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example:

  • if your supporting documents need to be verified
  • if you need to attend an interview
  • because of your personal circumstances – such as you have a criminal conviction

Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.

Switch to this visa

You can apply to switch to a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you’re already in the UK with any of these visa types:

 

  • Tier 1
  • Tier 2
  • Tier 5 (Temporary worker – Government Authorised Exchange) on an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers

You can choose how long you want to apply for, up to a maximum of 5 years. You only have to pay the healthcare surcharge for the amount of time you choose to stay.

You must leave the UK and make your application from abroad if you’re in another category.

You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility

You must first apply for endorsement in your particular field:

  • as a leader (under the exceptional talent rules)
  • as an emerging leader (under the exceptional promise rules)

How long it takes

You should get your visa:

  • within 8 weeks if you apply online or by post
  • usually on the same day if you use the premium service

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example:

  • if your supporting documents need to be verified
  • if you need to attend an interview
  • because of your personal circumstances – such as you have a criminal conviction

Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.

Family Members

Your family members (dependants) must apply to join or remain with you in the UK if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A dependant is any of the following:

  • your partner
  • your child under 18
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant

Children born while you’re in the UK

If you have children while you’re in the UK, you can apply for permission for them to stay.

You must do this if you want to travel in and out of the UK with them.

When you apply, send a full UK birth certificate for each child showing the names of both parents.

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