Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route

If you’re from a country outside the European Economic Area, you can apply to come to – or remain in – the UK via the Tier 1 visa route.

Who can apply for a Tier 1 visa?

You should be an exceptionally talented individual in the field of science, engineering, humanities and social sciences or the arts.
You must be able to demonstrate that you’re:

  • a recognised leader in your field (Exceptional Talent)

or

  • an emerging leader in your field (Exceptional Promise).

Benefits of applying for a Tier 1 visa

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).

You can apply to switch to a Tier 1 visa if you’re already in the UK on a:

  • Tier 2 visa (General)
  • Tier 5 visa (Temporary worker - Government Authorised Exchange).

Accelerated application process

If you hold one of the awards listed below, you’re guaranteed an endorsement of your Tier 1 application (see the ‘Stage 1: Endorsement’ section below). 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.

How to apply for a Tier 1 visa

There is a two-stage application process.

Stage 1: Endorsement

You need to apply via the Home Office for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in your particular field. You must complete the ‘Application for endorsement' form and submit this to the Home Office.

Your application will be considered by one of the five recognised Designated Competent Bodies, who will decide if you have the skills, abilities and achievements to be endorsed. You can find out more about the Tier 1 visa on their websites.

The five bodies are:

Stage 2: Immigration application

Once you’ve been endorsed, you can apply to the Home Office for your visa. You must apply for the visa within three months of being endorsed.