The new exceptional talent route is due to open next Tuesday 9 August 2011 with 1000 places available and a review taking place in March 2012.
Applications under this route will need to be endorsed by specially selected 'competent bodies' in the fields of science, the arts, engineering, and humanities. The competent bodies advising the UKBA on whether the applicant is indeed 'exceptionally talented' have been allocated a specific number of nominations that they can make from the quota as follows:
The Royal Society (science) – 300;
The Arts Council England (the arts) – 300;
The Royal Academy of Engineering (engineering) – 200; and
The British Academy (humanities) – 200.
It is yet to be seen how well the category will be taken up, given the restrictive eligibility criteria - in order to be eligible the competent bodies have to confirm that an applicant is already recognised, or has the potential to be recognised, as a world leader in their respective field.