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Exceptional Talent

Who is the route for Exceptional Talent?

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is the replacement of the Tier 1 General visa route. The Tier 1 General visa required migrants to score certain points to establish themselves as "exceptional highly skilled migrants", however this never proved a means to attract the best talent.

The emergence of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa and the growing number of people applying for this visa, demonstrates that the Endorsement Bodies are playing an integral part of the visa process. A Tier 1 visa offers you more flexibility than other UK immigration routes. You can:

  • move freely between organisations, locations, job/roles without having to tell the Home Office; with a Tier 2 visa you’re ‘tied’ to an employer/role and you often have to apply for a new visa if you change jobs;

  • take on activities in addition to those allowed on other visas, such as collaborations apply for settlement once you’ve been in the UK for three years (if endorsed under Exceptional Talent) or five years (if endorsed under Exceptional Promise).

At stage 1, one of five Designated Competent Bodies will advise the Home Office whether you meet its eligibility criteria and have reached the appropriate level to be endorsed under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent).

The recognised Designated Competent Bodies are:

  1. Arts Council England – for arts, culture, fashion, film and television applications. 

  2. The British Academy – for humanities and social science applications. 

  3. The Royal Society - for natural sciences and medical science research applications. 

  4. The Royal Academy of Engineering – for engineering applications. 

  5. Tech Nation – for digital technology applications.

Accelerated application process
If you hold one of the awards listed below, you’re guaranteed an endorsement of your Tier 1 application. If you hold a Wellcome grant that isn’t on this list, you can still apply for a Tier 1 visa, but your endorsement is not guaranteed.

  1. Investigator Awards in Science.

  2. Investigator Awards in Humanities and Social Science.

  3. Principal Research Fellowships.

  4. Senior Research Fellowships if your host organisation is in the UK.

  5. Senior Research Fellowships in Basic Biomedical Science (this scheme is now closed, but you can apply for a Tier 1 visa if you have been awarded one of these fellowships).

  6. Senior Research Fellowships in Clinical Science (this scheme is now closed, but you can apply for a Tier 1 visa if you have been awarded one of these fellowships). 

  7. Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships (Stage 2).

  8. Sir Henry Dale Fellowships.

  9. University Awards in Humanities and Social Science.

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