Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa

Please Note: This visa route is now closed and replaced by the Global Talent visa. If you’re currently on a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa and require further information, please contact our Immigration Team on 0161 826 6922.

Who can apply under a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa?

To ensure that the United Kingdom’s (‘UK’) cultural life and economy remains at the forefront of the world, talented individuals from industries such as science, humanities, engineering, arts (including film & television), digital technology, and most recently architects, are eligible to apply under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa route.

However, it is worth noting that Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas are subject to a cap of 2,000 visa applications in total per year.

Applying for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa?

To apply under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route, you would be required to apply through a two-stage visa process.

Stage 1 – Endorsement from a Designated Competent Body

A Designated Competent Body will be required to assess your skills, abilities and achievements and decide whether you should be endorsed in order to progress your application.

The recognised Designated Competent Bodies are:

  • Arts Council England – for arts, culture, fashion, architecture, 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;
  • Tech Nation – for digital technology applications; and
  • Royal Institute of British Architecture.

Each Designated Competent Body mentioned above will have its own set criteria to satisfy when deciding whether you show ‘exceptional talent’ or ‘exceptional promise’.

Exceptional Talent

For applicants who have already demonstrated that they have made a significant contribution as a leader in their field.

Exceptional Promise

For applicants who may be earlier in their careers but have already shown the potential to make significant contributions as a future leader in their field.

Only if an endorsement is granted by a Designated Competent Body, would you then be eligible to apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.

Stage 1 is submitted online, and the supporting documents will have to be sent to UK Visas & Immigration (‘UKVI’) for consideration.

If the endorsement is approved by UKVI, you would then be eligible to move onto stage 2 of the process.

Stage 2 – Submission of application to UK Visas and Immigration (‘UKVI’)

The second part of the application process will be for you to submit the application to UKVI.

As part of the submission to UKVI, you will be required to submit a copy of your endorsement letter which would have been received at the time your stage 1 would have been approved.

It is also at this stage that UKVI will consider whether there are any general grounds for refusal.


The fees for Stage 1 of the process is £456 and the fees for stage 2 of the process will be £152.

Length of a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

If your entry clearance for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is approved, you will be granted a visa for up to 5 years and four months or whichever period you would have requested.

If you are, however, switching into this category whilst in the UK, you would be granted leave to remain up to 5 years.

After completing 5 years in the UK on a Tier 1 Exceptional Promise visa, you will be eligible to apply for settlement. You can apply to settle in the UK after just three years if you were initially granted entry clearance under the Exceptional Talent route.

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