The number of visas available through the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route is being doubled to 2,000 a year. The change reflects the government’s desire to ensure “the brightest and the best” can come and work in the UK.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas are for migrants who have been endorsed in their field in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts as a recognised leader (exceptional talent) or an emerging leader (exceptional promise).  

The individual must be endorsed by one of five UK endorsing organisations: Tech City UK, Arts Council England, The British Academy, The Royal Society, or The Royal Academy of Engineering. There is a list of fellowships which qualify for fast track consideration.

There is a two stage application process (endorsement, followed by visa application). The majority of those who obtain endorsement go on to successfully apply for a visa.

Successful applicants are given a five year visa that is not tied to a specific role or organisation, providing them with greater flexibility.

Historically this visa route has been underused, but as pressure increases on Tier 2 we expect more employers to consider how they can use Tier 1 to recruit highly skilled migrants. Additional benefits are that Home Office fees are lower than for Tier 2 visas and the Immigration Skills Charge does not apply.