Tier 1 Exceptional Talent

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route is designed for ‘exceptionally talented’ individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the performing arts and digital technology. Those using this route must be internationally recognised at the highest level as world leaders in their particular field, or recognised as having already demonstrated exceptional promise and are likely to become world leaders in their field.  

Applications must be made by migrants themselves, although the Work Permits Desk can provide guidance where necessary. Applicants under this route will not need to be sponsored by an employer, but their application must be endorsed by a ‘Competent Body’ which is expert in the relevant field.

There are five designated Competent Bodies (the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society, Arts Council England, and Tech City UK) whose role will be to vouch to the Home Office that in their opinion the migrant is exceptionally talented.

The total number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas available will be limited to 1000 each year from April. The 1000 available visas will be split across two phases; there will be 500 visas available during the first phase (6 April to 30 September) and a further 500 available during the second phase (1 October to 5 April). Each of the five Competent Bodies will only be permitted to endorse a pre-determined limited number of applicants during each phase (which, in total, will amount to the 500 visas available). If all 500 visas available during the first phase are granted before 30 September, the Home Office will stop accepting applications until the next phase opens.

The application process for initial applications for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, and for those switching into Tier 1 Exceptional Talent from other permissible immigration routes (see below), as detailed in the Home Office Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Policy Guidance, consists of two stages:

Stage 1 - Request for endorsement

First, you will need to obtain an endorsement from a designated competent body to use as part of your visa application. This is an organisation that can judge whether you are internationally recognised in your field as a world-leading talent, or have demonstrated exceptional promise and are likely to become a world-leading talent. Details of how to apply for endorsement from a designated competent body are found on the Home Office's Stage 1 pages.

For those switching into Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) from within the UK, please note that stage 1 of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) application does not extend any existing leave to remain in the UK while this is being considered, hence the visa application [stage 2] must be submitted before your current leave (visa) expires.

Each Competent Body has set criteria which it will operate to select those who qualify for endorsement. Further information on the eligibility criteria relevant to each Competent Body, as well as the Home Office’s Policy Guidance which gives more detail on the application requirements can be found on the Home Office website.

Stage 2 - Apply for a visa

Once you have applied for endorsement you will need to apply for a visa (also known as 'entry clearance') or leave to remain (if you are switching visa categories) in the UK under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) of the points-based system. Once you have your endorsement you must use it within 3 months to make your Stage 2 application. Details of how to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa are found on the Home Office's Stage 2 pages. Please note that Croatian nationals are not required to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) visa and should instead at this stage apply for a Blue Registration Certificate using form CR2.

For those switching into Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) from within the UK, please note that it is stage 2 of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) application, the actual visa application, which can extend any exitsing leave to remain in the UK while this is being considered, hence the visa application [stage 2] must be submitted before your current leave (visa) expires.

Only those who already have permission to stay in the UK under the following categories can apply under (or switch into) Tier 1 Exceptional Talent from within the UK:

  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) in order to extend their leave
  • Tier 2 (any category)
  • Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange - Sponsored Researcher)

Please note that it is crucial that the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa application [stage 2 of the process] is submitted before the expiry of the applicant's current leave (visa) in order for them to retain their right to remain in the UK under the terms of their existing visa while the application is being considered.

Those given permission to enter the UK under Tier 1 Exceptional Talent can stay for 3 years and 4 months. Those switching into Tier 1 Exceptional Talent can stay for 3 years. It is possible to apply for an extension to stay for another 2 years.

The following table shows the cost of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, visa and leave to remain applications for both the main applicant and dependants.

In-country leave to remain (visa) applications £1,093
In-country leave to remain (visa) applications for nationals of Turkey and FYR Macedonia £1,038
In-country Dependant applications - partner, spouse, child under 18 as dependant of the main applicant £1,093
Out of country leave to enter (visa) applications £874
Out of country leave to enter (visa) applications for nationals of Turkey and FYR Macedonia £819
Out of country Dependant applications - partner, spouse, child under 18 as dependant of the main applicant £874

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent main applicant fee is payable in two parts - £420 when making the request for endorsement and the remainder of the relevant fee when applying for leave to enter (visa)/ leave to remain. The Home Office warn that you will not automatically be granted a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa if you have been endorsed and that the £420 endorsement fee will not be reimbursed if your application is refused.

Please note that there is no fee for Croatian nationals when making the request for endorsement and in the event that they receive endorsement they should apply for a Blue Registration Certificate using form CR2 instead of applying for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa.