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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent

*** This category is now closed and was replaced by the Global Talent Visa - please follow the link to read further. ***


The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is designed to attract the world’s top talent to the UK from the fields of digital technology, engineering, humanities, sciences and the performing arts. Successful applicants must already be internationally recognised or have potential to be so.

This category enables talented individuals with the opportunity to live and work in the UK, to further their career and thereby contribute to their chosen field here.

After 5 years of continuous residence in this capacity an individual will be eligible to apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’ and eventually to naturalise as a British citizen.

For more information please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980 where you can talk to one of our team, email us at or by completion of our online enquiry form.

Please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980, by email at or click here to complete our online form

Prospective applicants need to complete a two stage process which involves initially submitting a formal application with supporting documents to a designated competent body as follows – places available as indicated:


  • The Arts Council (250)
  • The Royal Society (250)
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering (150)
  • The British Academy (150) and
  • Tech City UK (200)*

Introduced on 6th April 2014 to encourage exceptional applicants from the field of digital technology.


An application for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa can only be made if one of the above bodies endorses the application.


Please note, once the designated bodies have used up their quota for the year, no further applications can be approved. Furthermore, the Home Office have a procedure where an unused quota can be reallocated from one body to another during the year. The timing of an application can therefore be very important.


If an endorsement is granted to an applicant, the second part of the process – the visa application, must be made within prescribed time limits.


The visa application process includes completion of appropriate forms, payment of a fee, attendance at biometrics and possible health screening.


Applicants for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa must pay an 'NHS surcharge' of £200 per year in advance for each whole or part year of the visa.


Only individuals in the UK with the following visas may apply to switch into this category:


  • Tier 1 migrant;
  • Tier 2 Migrant; or
  • Tier 5 Temporary Worker Migrant under the Government Authorised Exchange sub category in an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers.


Initial applicants will be granted 3 years and 4 months at the entry clearance stage.


Applicants who switch within the UK will be granted 3 years.


Applicants at the end of the above periods may then apply for an extension to stay for a further period of 2 years subject to showing that they have earned income from their category they were approved for.


Applications for extensions can be made from both overseas and in the UK.


Once a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holder has completed 5 years continuous lawful stay in this category, they can apply for settlement provided that:


  • the competent body who initially endorsed the application does not object;
  • the applicant has been economically active in the category they were approved for; and
  • the applicant can satisfy the Life in the UK test requirements.


Please note time spent in other Tier 1 or Tier 2 categories can count towards the 5 year period for settlement.


The spouse or unmarried partner and any unmarried children under 18 years of age may accompany the main applicant to the UK. However, they must obtain entry clearance from the relevant British diplomatic post before prior to travel.


Dependants will be allowed to remain in the UK for the same period as the main holder and may be granted any extensions or indefinite leave to remain.


They may work in the UK if no special restrictions have been placed on their stay.


The certificate holder, spouse and children aged 16 or over who accompany them to the UK may be required to register with the UK police.


No employment as a doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sportsman is allowed under this category.

We can of course advise on specific aspects of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent process.


Our full service includes:


  • legal advice


  • identifying documents


  • assistance with an application to a designated body


  • completion of online forms


  • securing a biometric appointment


  • ongoing liaison with the authorities where possible.


Please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980, by email at or click here to complete our online form

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