The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa UK is for those who can make a difference! Accordingly, this post provides guidance relating to the Tier 1 exceptional talent requirements for entry clearance, leave to remain and ILR (settlement) applications. If one qualifies under the exceptional talent route then can work and change employers and there is no maximum limit on the time in the UK.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Requirements

Apparently, the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route is for highly skilled migrants in the fields of humanities, science, engineering, the arts and digital technology, who have the potential to enrich the UK’s knowledge economy and cultural life. Perhaps, keeping in view the skill level and qualifications of such exceptional migrants there are very few restrictions on their economic activity in the UK. Apparently, if one qualifies under the Tier 1 exceptional talent route then he/she can work and change employers and also do work as self-employed. Moreover, there is no need for further authorisation or sponsor for employment in a particular post.

How to Qualify?

An applicant may qualify under Tier 1 exceptional talent route if the applicant is already internationally recognised as having made significant contributions as a leader in his/her field. And also if the applicant has already demonstrated the potential to contribute significantly as a future leader in his/her field of interest. The Annex A of Tier 1 exceptional talent guidance provides the details of the eligibility criteria that an applicant needs to meet. Accordingly, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa is a two-stage process.

Stage 1

Stage 1 assesses the skills, abilities and achievements and enables the Designated Competent Bodies to decide whether an applicant gets an endorsement for further progress in the application. Although Stage 1 applications are submitted to the Home Office; however, these are not immigration applications. As such, Stage 1 applications do not affect any current leave that an applicant holds in any way. Stage 1 is submitted online. It can be submitted from wherever an applicant is in the world. However, an applicant needs to send supporting evidence to the UK for consideration. Moreover, the fee for an application for endorsement for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) is £456.00.

Stage 2

If an applicant gets an endorsement by a Designated Competent Body then can apply for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa for leave to enter or remain in the UK. This is Stage 2 of the process, which is undertaken solely by the Home Office and assesses immigration matters only. If an applicant is outside then a majority of applicants needs to apply online. However, application inside the UK needs to apply for leave to remain application.

Applying for Stage 1 and 2 concurrently

There are separate fees for each stage. Perhaps, it is expedient if an applicant checks whether he/she is successful at stage 1 before applying stage 2. However, an applicant can also apply for stage 1 and stage 2 at the same time if he/she wishes to do so. Please note that applicants can only submit Stage 1 applications by post. Therefore, applicants cannot make Tier 1 exceptional talent application a Premium Service Centre or visa application centre outside of the UK.


You can choose how much leave to apply for, up to a maximum of 5 years (5 years 4 months if obtaining Entry Clearance) in each grant. You can subsequently apply to extend your leave if you require further limited leave in the United Kingdom. There is no maximum limit on the time you can spend in the UK in this category. Extension applications can be made while you are still in the UK, or alternatively, if you need to travel, they can be submitted overseas in any country as long as you have authority to be living in that country (and have been given authority to live there for more than 6 months).

English Language

There is no requirement to speak English at either the initial stage or when applying for an extension of limited leave to remain. You will need to demonstrate your level of English to qualify for settlement.

Can Dependants Accompany the Main Applicant?

Yes. The dependants can accompany the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Main Applicant if they meet the relevant eligibility requirements.

Priority Service

You cannot submit an application for endorsement (stage 1 application) in person. You may be able to submit your entry clearance application (stage 2) using a priority service or super-priority service, depending on options available in the country where you apply. More details of the available options in each country are available at You should only apply for stage 2 if you have already received your endorsement (stage 1) decision. See Timing your stage 2 application for further details. Applications to extend your Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) leave may also be submitted via premium services where applicable.

Permitted Work Activities

Perhaps, a migrant on Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa can:

  • work as self-employed/contracted/employed in any sector**
  • work for any employer and move between employers without any additional approval from the Home Office
  • take up employment at any level**

However, cannot:

  • work as a Doctor or Dentist in Training; or
  • as a professional sportsperson/sports coach.

** Please note that to extend your leave, or apply for settlement, you will need to demonstrate that you have been paid for employment in your specialist field


If a migrant intends to study on Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa then first needs to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.

Public Funds

Most migrants are unable to claim public funds.

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Leave to Remain

If an applicant is applying for an extension of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) leave which he/she already holds, then an applicant only needs to make a single application. Certainly, the applicant does not need to obtain a new endorsement. However, the applicant needs to pay the full Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) fee in a single payment.


You can switch into Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) if you have leave in the following categories:

  • Any Tier 1 route;
  • Any Tier 2 route; or
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker), if you have been sponsored in the Government Authorised Exchange sub-category in an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers

If you hold leave in any other category, you should leave the UK and apply for entry clearance.


A Tier 1 Exceptional Talent migrant can also make an application for settlement once the migrant continuously lives in the UK for 3 or 5 years. Perhaps, depending on nature endorsement. If the endorsement was for exceptional talent then the migrant can make the application after 3 years. However, if the endorsement was for exceptional promise then the migrant can apply for settlement application after 5 years.


Premium Service

You cannot submit an application for endorsement (stage 1 application) at a Premium Service Centre (PSC). You can submit your leave application (stage 2) at a PSC, but should only do so if you have already received your endorsement (stage 1) decision. See Timing your stage 1 application for further details. Applications to extend your Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) leave or to apply for settlement may be also be submitted at a PSC. 

Can I travel while my application is outstanding?

You may travel while your application for endorsement (stage 1 application) is outstanding. You are not required to submit your passport at this stage. If you have submitted a leave application (stage 2) while you are in the United Kingdom, you cannot travel outside of the United Kingdom while your application is under consideration. 

Does Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa route lead to settlement?

Yes. However, the qualifying period depends on whether you are granted under either the exceptional talent (3 years) or exceptional promise (5 years) criteria. The period must be continuous although some absences are allowed. This means that it is possible to apply for settlement without extending limited leave, in a number of circumstances. Further details are available later in this policy document: see Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) applications. Please note, the qualifying period for any PBS Dependant Partner is 5 years, regardless of whether the main applicant is eligible for accelerated settlement. Dependent children can qualify for settlement if both parents are settled or applying for settlement at the same time, or at the same time as the main applicant if the main applicant has sole responsibility for them.

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