Tier 1 is available to academics and researchers who are internationally recognised as either world leaders or potential world-leading talent in their fields. Applying for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa is a two-stage process undertaken by the applicant.
The first stage of the process is an application by the individual for an endorsement from the relevant Designated Competent Body (The Royal Society, The British Academy, The Royal Academy of Engineering, or Arts Council England). Their application must demonstrate that they are an Exceptional Talent or show Exceptional Promise.
There are two routes available routes to make an application under Tier 1 including an accelerated route aimed at academics recruited by UK universities.
Accelerated Application Route
The British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and The Royal Society provide an accelerated endorsement process for individuals appointed to eligible senior academic or research positions at UK Higher Education Institutions (HEI) or research institutes. This process offers greater certainty for applicants who have received a job offer that they will be endorsed, provided they meet the mandatory and qualifying criteria. To apply using this accelerated process you must provide a mandatory statement of guarantee from the Director of Human Resources or equivalent of the appointing HEI or research institute. It should be dated and confirm that the recruitment process for your appointment met the below list of criteria:
- that the job was advertised and an open competition was held for the position (applications where there was not an open competition may be considered providing all other criteria are met and a reasonable explanation is provided for that decision);
- that a job offer of an eligible senior academic or research position at the employing institution has been made and accepted;
- the name of the position and the department in which the applicant will be based (eligible senior positions are Professor, Associate Professor or Reader in a UK HEI or equivalent positions at a research institute, such as Senior Group Leader);
- that at least three references were required and received;
- that at least four senior academic representatives from the employing institution were present on the interview panel;
- that at least one senior external expert in a relevant field, who is not employed by the employing institution, was consulted during the recruitment process (either participating in the interview or providing written input).
Standard Application Route
If you are not applying under an accelerated route, you must provide the following documents to allow your application to be assessed:
- A short curriculum vitae outlining your career and publication history (of no more than 3 A4 sides in length);
- A mandatory letter of personal recommendation from an eminent person resident in the UK supporting your application. The person must be familiar with your work and your contribution to your field, and qualified to assess your claim for Exceptional Talent or Promise. It should be dated and include;
- how the eminent person knows you;
- your achievements in the specialist field;
- how in the opinion of the eminent person you exhibit Exceptional Talent;
- how you would benefit from living in the UK; and
- the contribution you would make to UK research excellence and to wider society.
- If you are applying under the exceptional promise criteria, evidence in relation to at least one of the qualifying which can be found in the Tier 1 Guidance.
Application Process – Stage 2
Once an endorsement is granted the individual must make an application for leave to remain within three months of notification. This is stage two of the process. How to make an application will depend on whether the individual is applying from inside or outside of the UK. For further information on how to apply, please see the published Home Office guidance:
The cost of the visa is cheaper with a flat rate of £292 for stage 1, an endorsement application, and £293 for stage 2, a visa application. In addition to this the Immigration Health Surcharge is also payable.
Tier 1 is open to both prospective and current members of staff. Current staff may switch into this category from another visa route. Applicants should contact HR to assist them with both stages of their applications.
Beyond your Tier 1 visa
Workers who have been endorsed under a DCB’s “exceptional talent” criteria will now be able to qualify for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after 3 years of continuous residence instead of 5 years. Those endorsed under a DCB’s “exceptional promise” criteria will continue to qualify for settlement after 5 years of continuous residence.