The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa route under the Points Based System of the Immigration Rules allows highly skilled and talented individuals to come to the UK to work, live and create businesses and products / services that will add value to the UK by boosting the economy.
It is somewhat of a “lowkey” Visa as not a lot of people know about it.
Due to the requirements of “exceptional talent” from each applicant, the amount of Visas offered under this route is very limited. Actually, there are just 2000 spots available each year. That amount is shared amongst 5 fields; science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology and the arts (including fashion), which means each field can only endorse 400 applicants each per year.
The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa has a five(5) year route to settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) and successful applicants can bring dependant family members with them.
The requirements for the visa are somewhat very detailed and specific. Here, I will set out seven key areas of consideration for anyone considering the teir 1 exceptional talent route.
7 Things To Consider When Applying For The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
1. Which Body Do You Fall Under.
So, one of the first steps to knowing how to apply and go about your application for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa is to know which body you fall under; this will allow you to know to whom your application would be addressed to and their guidelines to follow for a successful application.
The UK Government has appointed some competent bodies in different fields who are in charge of endorsing applicants by examining their applications and claims. These bodies are reputable UK bodies and they will advise the Home Office whether you meet their eligibility criteria and have reached the appropriate level to be endorsed under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) or not.
The competent bodies who can endorse you as an exceptional talent are:
- Arts Council England – for arts , culture , fashion , film and television 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 Nation – for digital technology applications
How to apply for the Arts Council England Visa
How to apply for The British Academy Visa
How to apply for The Royal Society Visa
How to apply for the Royal Academy of Engineering Visa
How to apply for the Tech Nation Visa (this is my full blogpost on my personal experience)
So, your field or career path will determine which of those body’s rule or guideline you will have to adhere by. *You cannot ask for two Designated Competent Bodies to assess a single stage 1 application*
2. Your Professional Profile.
Once you’ve determined the body you fall under, the next step is to compare their requirements with your skill sets and professional profile.
You will know right of the bat if you are qualified to be endorsed or not. These bodies do a good job of providing detailed PDF guides that shows you what they are looking for, the types of skill sets that normally gets endorsed by them, the awards / endorsements / achievements you should be able to show in order to get endorsed and more!
Due to the name of the visa “exceptional talent”, there must be somethings in your professional career that makes you standout and puts you in a class of your own. These things should also have some type of possible financial gain or boost that they can bring to the UK because at the end of the day, the whole purpose of this visa route is to boost the UK economy.
So, try ensure that when putting your documents together (especially your personal statement), there are some pointers and indication as to how the UK will benefit from having you in the country, financially.
3. Are You A Leader or An Emerging Leader.
The UK Government did a great job with this Visa. I love how they broke it into 2 types of applicants; the “Exceptional Talent Applicants” and “The Exceptional Promise Applicants”
So, the exceptional talent applicants are people who are already internationally recognised as having made significant contributions as a leader in their fields while the exceptional promise applicants are people who have already demonstrated potential to contribute significantly as a future leader in their fields.
You will need to decide which one you are and which you will be applying under. It is important to analyze yourself in order to come to this conclusion.
If you are relatively new in your field; say less than 10years? You might want to look to applying under exceptional promise but if you have more than 10 years experience, my personal opinion would be that you apply under exceptional talent because you sort of have a lot of years under your belt to show and prove you are a leader in your field.
This topic is actually very interesting because even though I have less than 10 years experience in Tech and even though I applied under “Exceptional Promise” to be on a safe side, my profile and experience made me get endorsed as an “Exceptional Talent” by Tech Nation.
4. Documents Handy?
Documents play a very key role in the outcome of your endorsement application. The stronger your documents, the better of a chance you have.
Each competent body provides a detailed PDF that outlines the types of documents they will accept as proof to support your claim of “exceptional talent”.
So, after going through the PDF guide, the next line of action would be to start digging into your archive and profile to start matching documents you have or can get with documents required. From personal experience, this is one of the most “stressful” part of the whole application process.
It takes some people months to gather their documents, it takes some people weeks. It took me only few days because I am a freelancer and I have the whole day to dig and put things together.
I recommend using original or colored copies of each document so they can look professional and they can adequately relay the message and content of each document.
I am not sure of the other competent bodies but for Tech Nation, I know the rule is to ensure that each document does not exceed 2 A4 papers and the limit tot the amount of documents that can be submitted is only 10.
5. Fees and Monies.
I think this is one of the parts of the application process that is mostly overlooked. Well, I think the reason is because the price for the Visa is really low compared to the freedom and advantages it comes with.
However, it is important to know the cost implications of the Exceptional Talent Visa. As of the day of this post going live, the fees are:
|Who you’re applying for||Stage 1 – endorsement application||Stage 2 – visa application|
|You if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia||£456||£97|
I strongly suggest you check the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa official page to see the updated fees. The fees changes, I remember when I applied in 2017, the stage one fee was £287 and now its £456 as of today. So, always check the fees.
The stage one fee is the first payment you will have to make along side your application. This is also called payment for endorsement, this fee is non-refundable if you get endorsed or not. It is the fee that allows the UK government / competent body to access your application and give you endorse you…or not.
The fee allows the competent body to assess your skills , abilities and achievements and enables them to decide whether you should be endorsed in order to progress your application to the second stage.
The stage two fee is the Visa application fee. This fee will only be paid if you are successful with your endorsement application. You will need your endorsement letter to proceed with the visa application process.
6. What Are Your Plans?
Most people love the idea of living in the UK but not a lot of them know what it takes to live here.
The UK, especially London is an expensive place to live in.
So, before you even start the application process, I want you to be sure and certain on what your plans in the UK are and will be. Will you be getting a job or will you be running your own thing? How will you be getting cash flow in to survive or pay your bills?
These are things that should be in your head, always stay one-step ahead, do not be like the average Joe that just comes to the UK without solid plans on how to maintain and live in a fast paced country like this.
The visa does give you freedom and these are the things you can do:
- work as self employed/contracted/employed;
- work in any sector **
- work for any employer and move between employers without any additional approval from the Home Office
- take up employment at any level **
The worst thing that can ever happen is to get the endorsement and Visa and find out you cannot live a comfortable life in the UK. This is not mostly talked about but I love touching this topic because it is as real as it gets.
7. Legal Advice / Help?
Do you need a lawyer or solicitor to help with your application for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa? From personal experience, I don’t think you do! The reason is because this visa is different from the normal visas.
The stage one process (which is the most important part) requires no law influence at all, it requires “your intellect” and professional experience and your ability to put together documents / evidences that puts you in the light as an exceptional talent.
The average immigration lawyer cannot help you at this stage, he/she cannot help you gather or formulate documents that makes you come across as an exceptional talent in your field (except of course if the lawyer is skilled in the field you are looking to get endorsed under)
There are so many lawfirms adding the exceptional talent visa as part of the service(s) they offer and they really don’t know much about it. I have sat down with London based lawfirms to discuss how I can be of help in accessing applications for this visa route and I have found that most of them do not understand this route at all, they just regurgitate what is contained in the competent body’s guide.
The stage one requires personal touch!
Your best bet if you need professional help or advice is to make use of a consultant who has KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCE in the field you are trying to get endorsed under. He or she can give you practical and actionable guidelines no lawyer can! If you are lucky, you will find a successful applicant who also provides consultation to future applicants – these are the people you should go for because they have experience in your field and they also have experience applying and getting endorsed by the competent body you are also applying to – they have walked the paths you are about to walk through.
For example, I provide “done for you documents templates” for Tech Nation applicants that saves them time, money and gives them a better shot at success because these templates were created from my own personal successful application. (If you are interested in this, get Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Visa Templates) and I also offer consultation over skype, contact me to talk about this.
However, for the stage 2; visa application process – you can make use of a lawyer or solicitor (even though I didn’t), its your call.
If you would like to read my personal story check this post out “How I Got and How To Get A UK Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Visa Endorsement”
All the best with your application.