Updated Guidance on policy for UK visas under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

Immigration Law

On 24 November 2017, the Home Office released the updated version of the full guidance on UK Visas and Immigration’s policy on visa applications under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent).

This guidance must be used by those applying for an initial visa or a visa extension under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) and willing to understand the details of the policy for this immigration category.

Who is eligible for exceptional talent visa route?

The UK offers this route for exceptionally talented individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology to enrich the United Kingdom’s knowledge economy and cultural life. The British government recognises that such talented individuals should have few restrictions on their economic activity once here. If you qualify, the route allows you to work and change employers, or to be self-employed, without the need for further authorisation or to be sponsored for employment in a specific post.

You may qualify under this route if you are already internationally recognised as having made significant contributions as a leader in your field, or you have already demonstrated potential to contribute significantly as a future leader in your field. Annex A of this Guidance describes the criteria you would need to meet.

Application Process

Applying for your first Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa is a two stage process:

  • Stage One is submitted to the Home Office but considered by a Designated Competent Body and it is not an immigration application. It will assess your skills, abilities and achievements and decide whether you should be endorsed in order to progress your application. Application is submitted online. It can be submitted from wherever you are in the world but the supporting evidence must be sent to the UK for consideration.
  • Stage Two depends on where you are applying from and your nationality.

The recognised Designated Competent Bodies are:

  • Arts Council England – for arts and culture applications;
  • The British Academy – for humanities and social science applications;
  • The Royal Society – for natural sciences and medical science research applications; • The Royal Academy of Engineering – for engineering applications; and
  • Tech City UK – for digital technology applications.


This is only relevant if you make your application from inside the United Kingdom.

You can switch into Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) from your current category of leave to remain in the United Kingdom if you have permission to stay as:

  • a Tier 1 Migrant;
  • a Tier 2 Migrant; or
  • a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Migrant, sponsored in the Government Authorised Exchange sub-category in an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers.

If you hold any other type of leave, you are unable to switch in-country into the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category and you would instead have to return overseas to apply for entry clearance.