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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa (category closed for new applicant's from 20th Feb 2020)

The category has now been replaced with the Global Talent Visa. The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa was created to allow those in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the Arts (culture, fashion, architecture, film and television) and digital technology to come and work in the UK. 

Currently, those wishing to apply as a new applicant will need to look at the Global Talent Visa. Those holding the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa can apply for their extension as well as their indefinite leave to remain application, after 20th February 2020 and will need to meet the published requirements.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa 

When the visa was introduced, the concept was the right idea, as it was promoting the highly skilled migrants to come in the UK. For the first time, salary was not a threshold to be met but the applications were more to a person rather than any other factors previously used by the Home Office. 

The initial assessment was conducted by an approved Endorsing Bodies. This would depend on which field you intended to apply under. The category required an application be internationally recognised in their field or is a promise to meet that threshold. It is not simple enough to suggest you are working in the field. 

The responsibility are given to the Endorsing Bodies to consider the application, a good move by the Home Office, as it allows the application to be considered by the fields expert and if they do not recommend this person, then the visa is not granted. 

There are 2 fields you can apply under, either as a recognised leader (exceptional talent) or an emerging leader (exceptional promise). There are 2 stages to this application, you will need to go to the Home Office for the endorsement and then apply for your leave to enter visa. ICS Legal is able to support both application processes, as this is a complicated application process. 

To get a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, you need to be endorsed as a leader (exceptional talent) or emerging leader (exceptional promise) by either one of those,  Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society or Tech City UK (Tech Nation).

If you are already in the UK, then you may be able to switch however this has now been closed down for new applicants. Instead you must apply for the Global Talent visa. The visa can be granted up to 5 years and the length of visa is dictated by you, rather than the Endorsing Body or the Home Office. 

ICS Legal can advise and support on your application as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, and if you would like us to provide you with some initial advice, please e-mail us your details on or you can complete our visa assessment form, by clicking here.  

Applying for your extension under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

You can apply for the extension of leave if you do not wish to apply for ILR after 5 years. However you must now apply under the Global Talent visa. 

Curtailment of a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

The Home Office have a right to curtail your visa if they believe you are either in breach of your conditions of stay or your endorsing body have withdrawn their sponsorship. There are no right to appeal against these decisions. 

Applying for indefinite leave to remain as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

First of all, once you have completed 5 years continuous residency, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain and do not need to switch into the Global Talent visa. 

In meeting the requirements for the indefinite leave to remain as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holder, you must provide evidences in the last 5 years, that you have been employed or been self-employed in your expert field. Your Endorsing Body must ensure they have not withdrawn their offer. 

The Home Office will only accept specified evidences which are listed by the immigration rules policy. In evidence to the requirements, if you are employed, there would be an expectation that there is an employment contract, payslips and any official tax documents to demonstrate the employment history. There is no expectation to be employed by one employer over the 5 years; however continuous employment and engagement must be provided.

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa permits you to be self-employed and if you are, then the evidences will depend on how you have set up yourself through the HMRC. For example, if you are a registered director of a limited company in the UK, then you would be required to provide business financial report related to the business incomes and profit, tax returns, bank statements which are some of the evidences required to be provided. 

You will need to make sure you meet the absences requirement, as you are not allowed to be outside of the UK more than 180 days in each 12 months of qualifying periods. The Home Office allows exception to the policy. 

These include but not limited to The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of Engineering or The British Academy, whereby any absence linked to their grant of leave (such as a scientist undertaking research overseas), do not count as an absence, regardless of length.
In addition to the above, you also need to meet the knowledge of life requirements and meet the financial adequacy requirements. 

Taking legal advice on the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

We at ICS Legal will provide guidance and correct advice on the Tier 1 Exceptional Visa. We can also assist on the business plan to the visa application and advice throughout the course of the application process. 

You can speak to one of our UK Immigration Lawyers on 0207 237 3388 or you can email us at if you are considering to apply under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. 


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