Immigration Specialists London

Explore the realm of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa UK, a pathway now integrated into the Global Talent Visa, originally aimed at attracting highly skilled professionals across diverse sectors to the UK. This guide delves into the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa’s significance, its eligibility criteria, and application nuances, culminating in its transition to the Global Talent Visa. It offers essential insights for those intrigued by this distinctive visa category and its role in shaping the UK’s skilled talent landscape.

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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

1. Overview of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa


The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa was a cornerstone of the UK’s strategy to attract highly skilled professionals. It targeted individuals demonstrating exceptional talent or promise in fields such as science, engineering, humanities, digital technology, and arts and culture. This visa was instrumental in enhancing the UK’s economy, fostering innovation, and promoting cultural diversity by drawing top global talent. In February 2020, it was replaced by the Global Talent Visa, which continues to pursue these objectives, adapting to the evolving needs of the global professional landscape.

Eligibility Criteria

Fields of Expertise and Qualifying Industries

The visa catered to individuals with outstanding abilities in specific industries. Applicants needed endorsement from designated competent bodies, including:

  • The Royal Society
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Tech Nation

Exceptional Talent vs. Exceptional Promise

The visa had two distinct categories:

  • Exceptional Talent: Targeted at established leaders with significant contributions and a proven track record of success in their industry.
  • Exceptional Promise: Aimed at emerging talents on track to become industry leaders, demonstrating potential for significant contributions.

Evidence Requirement

Applicants had to substantiate their claims of exceptional talent or promise with robust evidence, such as awards, publications, or patents.

Transition to Global Talent Visa

The transition to the Global Talent Visa in February 2020 marked a continuation of the UK’s commitment to welcoming outstanding professionals. This new visa builds upon the foundation of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, introducing elements that better adapt to the evolving global professional landscape.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) was replaced by the Global Talent category on 20 February 2020. A number of transitional arrangements apply to applicants who are affected by this change.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) of the Points Based System – Policy Guidance

2. Endorsement Letter and Visa Application Process


Before applying, applicants were encouraged to review the official UK government guidance. This guidance detailed eligibility criteria, application steps, fees, and necessary documentation, improving the chances of a successful application.

Two-Stage Application Process for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

Stage 1: Endorsement

  1. Evidence Submission:
    • Applicants must provide evidence of their exceptional talent or promise, including awards, publications, patents, or other relevant indicators of achievements.
  2. Assessment by Endorsing Body:
    • A designated competent body evaluates the applicant’s qualifications in their respective field.
  3. Receiving the Endorsement Letter:
    • Successful applicants receive a letter of endorsement, crucial for the visa application.

Stage 2: Visa Application

  1. Online Application:
    • Once endorsed, applicants apply online for the visa, including their endorsement reference number and personal details.
  2. Documentation Submission:
    • Applicants must submit a valid passport, the endorsement letter, evidence of exceptional talent or promise, and proof of maintenance funds.
  3. Application Review:
    • The visa application is reviewed based on the submitted endorsement and other documentation.

Role and Criteria of Endorsing Bodies

Endorsing bodies like the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, and Arts Council England played a pivotal role. They assessed:

  • Professional Accomplishments: Awards, honors, and other recognitions.
  • Contributions to the Field: Publications, patents, and significant work.
  • Potential Impact: The applicant’s potential impact within the UK’s economy and cultural landscape.

Endorsement Process and Requirements

For endorsement, each body set specific criteria based on the field of expertise. Applicants typically needed to provide:

  • A Personal Statement: Outlining achievements and goals.
  • Letters of Recommendation: From industry professionals.
  • Supporting Documents: Such as awards, publications, patents.

Documentation and Fees

Applicants had to prepare a range of documents and be aware of the fees for both endorsement and visa stages. These fees varied depending on circumstances such as application location. The essential documents included:

  • Valid passport
  • Endorsement letter
  • Evidence of exceptional talent or promise
  • Proof of maintenance funds

Reviewing the UK government guidance and preparing the necessary documentation meticulously were crucial steps to ensure a smooth application process.

3. Dependents and Pathway to British Citizenship


Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa for Dependents and Family Members

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa holders could bring their dependents to the UK. Dependents typically included the visa holder’s spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner, and children under 18. To join, dependents had to apply for a PBS Dependent Visa, which required:

  1. Evidence of the Relationship:
    • Marriage or civil partnership certificates
    • Birth certificates for children
    • Proof of an enduring relationship for unmarried or same-sex partners
  2. Proof of Financial Support:
    • Evidence showing the main applicant can financially support their dependents without recourse to public funds
  3. English Language Requirement:
    • Partners staying for over six months must meet the English language requirement

Dependents on this visa could work or study in the UK without restrictions.

Naturalisation and British Citizenship

Naturalisation allows non-British individuals to become British citizens. The process for those with a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa and their dependents involves several steps:

  1. Eligibility Requirements:
    • Being 18 years or older
    • Having ILR or EU Settled Status for at least 12 months
    • Meeting residency and character requirements
    • Passing the Life in the UK Test and meeting English language criteria
  2. Application Process for Naturalisation:
    • Confirm eligibility
    • Complete and submit the application form with necessary documents
    • Pay the Naturalisation application fee (check the UK Government’s website for current rates)
    • Attend a biometric enrolment appointment
    • Await processing, which may take several months. Typically, British Citizenship processing time is 6-months.
    • If approved, attend a citizenship ceremony, take an oath of allegiance, and receive a Certificate of Naturalisation

After naturalization, individuals can apply for a British passport and enjoy the same rights as other British citizens.

Pathway to British Citizenship for Dependents

Dependents of Tier 1 Visa holders could pursue British citizenship after:

  1. Living in the UK for a Continuous Period:
  2. Residency Requirements:
    • Spending no more than 450 days outside the UK in the five years preceding the application
    • Spending no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months before applying
  3. Additional Requirements:

After fulfilling these conditions, dependents could apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Following the grant of ILR, they could eventually apply for British citizenship through naturalisation, thus enjoying the full rights and privileges of British citizens.

4. Transition to Global Talent Visa


The transition from the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa to the Global Talent Visa signifies a shift in the UK’s approach to attracting skilled professionals. While both visas share a common goal, several key differences distinguish the new scheme.

Key Differences between the Two Visas

  • Endorsement Criteria:
    • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa:
      • Specific fields and industries.
    • Global Talent Visa:
      • Broader range of fields and industries.
  • Flexibility:
    • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa:
      • More restrictive work conditions.
    • Global Talent Visa:
      • Allows working for an employer, self-employment, or starting a business.
  • Settlement Rights:
    • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa:
      • Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years of residence.
    • Global Talent Visa:
      • ILR after three or five years, depending on endorsement level.

Impact on Existing Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Holders

For current Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa holders, the transition to the Global Talent scheme maintains their legal status in the UK:

  • Continuity of Status:
    • Existing visa holders retain their leave to remain and can continue their activities in the UK until their visa expires.
  • Renewal Process:
    • Upon renewal, they must apply under the Global Talent Visa, adhering to the new eligibility criteria and application process.
  • Residency Requirements:
    • Time spent in the UK under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa counts towards the residency requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and naturalization as a British citizen.

This transition reflects the UK’s commitment to welcoming diverse, highly skilled professionals and providing them with more opportunities and flexibility. The Global Talent Visa aims to attract a wider range of talented individuals, offering them greater freedom in their professional pursuits and a more streamlined path to settlement in the UK.

5. FAQs: Tier 1 Exceptional Talent and Global Talent Visas


  1. What replaced the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa?

    The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa was replaced by the Global Talent Visa in February 2020.

  2. Can current Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa holders switch to the Global Talent Visa?

    Yes, existing Tier 1 Visa holders can apply for the Global Talent Visa upon renewal, adhering to its new eligibility criteria.

  3. Does the Global Talent Visa offer more flexibility than the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa?

    Yes, the Global Talent Visa offers greater flexibility, allowing holders to work for an employer, be self-employed, or start a business in the UK.

  4. How does the Global Talent Visa affect settlement rights?

    Global Talent Visa holders can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after three or five years, depending on their level of endorsement, which is more flexible compared to the five-year requirement under the Tier 1 Visa.

  5. Will time spent on a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa count towards ILR under the Global Talent Visa?

    Yes, the time spent under the Tier 1 Visa counts towards the residency requirement for ILR and naturalisation as a British citizen.

  6. Are the fields and industries for eligibility broader in the Global Talent Visa?

    Yes, the Global Talent Visa broadens the range of qualifying fields and industries compared to its predecessor.

  7. Can dependents of Global Talent Visa holders also apply for ILR?

    Yes, dependents of Global Talent Visa holders are eligible to apply for ILR following the same residency requirements as the main applicant.