Making the most of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa banner


Making the most of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa

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Readers – including other Immigration solicitors in London - may have read the recent news story concerning a chess prodigy, Shreyas Royal, who was facing the possibility of being deported from the UK when his father’s visa expired because he was unable, as a child, to take advantage of a Tier 1 exceptional talent visa. Many Immigration lawyers were concerned that the strict approach of the Home Office would mean the UK losing “the best prospect the country has ever seen” in the chess world, for the sake of setting a precedent.

The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has now intervened in this case, and the child’s father, who was in the UK on a Tier 2 visa has been told that he can extend his visa, even though he does not meet the minimum earnings requirement of £120,000. This means that the whole family can stay in the UK, and Shreyas can continue to develop his chess talent. Although, in the end, the exceptional talent route was not the answer, the story raises the question of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa – what does it offer and who can benefit?

Tier 1 exceptional talent visa – not just for artists!

As many of the best Immigration solicitors in London will be quick to point out, the exceptional talent route is not a common route for the majority of those who wish to come to the UK. Nevertheless, those who are endorsed in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technologies, the arts and fashion, either as a recognised leader or an emerging leader can potentially benefit from this visa route, either as exceptional talent or because they show exceptional promise.

The benefits of the exceptional talent route

There are a number of benefits to the exceptional talent route, which make it worth considering, even though only 2,000 visas are available each year (from April to April). You can discuss these with your Legal 500 Immigration solicitor who can give you more information about the benefits of this visa route.

- Fewer restrictions on economic activity

One of the key benefits of the exceptional talent route is that once granted, the holders of this visa have very few restrictions placed on their economic activity once they are in the UK. Once in the UK under an exceptional talent visa or exceptional promise visa, it is possible to change employers or become self-employed without applying for further authorisation from the Home Office.

- No English language requirement

In addition, this is one of the visa routes, similar to the Investor Visa, that does not require knowledge of English to be demonstrated by the applicant. This is true both at initial application or extension application stage, although knowledge of English is required if the exceptional talent visa holder goes on to apply for settlement.

- Accelerated settlement in some cases

The exceptional talent route has a slightly shorter qualifying period for settlement in the UK too. The holder of a Tier 1 exceptional talent visa can apply for settlement in the UK after 3 years, although those in the UK under an exceptional promise visa have to wait the usual 5 years before applying for settlement.

Eligibility under the exceptional talent/exceptional promise route

Aside from being able to demonstrate exceptional talent or exceptional promise, it goes without saying that this visa route is available to those living outside the EEA and Switzerland. Applying under this visa route is a 2-stage process. It involves first to the Home Office for the appropriate endorsement – either as a leader or emerging leader in the relevant field. With the endorsement in place, the individual can then apply for the visa.

The endorsement process

As we mentioned earlier in this blog, the application for the exceptional talent/exceptional promise visa is a 2-stage process. The visa application is preceded by an endorsement process under which a ‘Designated Competent Body’ will advise the Home Office whether the applicant meets the criteria and is indeed an ‘exceptional talent’ or ‘exceptional promise’. Designated Competent Bodies are

- Arts Council England – this is the Designated Competent Body for those in the fields of arts culture, fashion, film and television

- The British Academy – humanities and social science applications

- The Royal Society – natural sciences and medical science research

- The Royal Academy of Engineering - engineering

- Tech Nation – digital technologies

The visa application process

With the endorsement in place, it is then possible to make the application for the exceptional talent visa. As all London immigration solicitors will advise, there is no guarantee that the visa will be granted, even with the endorsement in place – and the fees involved in obtaining the endorsement are not refunded in the event that the visa application is refused. It’s therefore in the interests of anyone seeking an exceptional talent visa to take advice from a UK Immigration lawyer to make sure they have the best chance of succeeding in their application.

It’s important to note that the exceptional talent visa application must be made within 3 months of receiving the endorsement. Someone who is already in the UK must have made their visa application (not just the endorsement application) before their existing visa expires.

Although the exceptional talent visa is not available to the majority of people wishing to come to the UK to work, it is worth considering by anyone who may be able to demonstrate their exceptional talent or exceptional promise. An experienced Immigration solicitor can advise further.

OTS Solicitors are Legal 500 recommended Immigration solicitors with a strong track record in supporting clients to make successful visa applications and helping them achieve the Immigration results they need to help them achieve their personal and commercial and economic aims. To discuss your Immigration and visa needs, contact 0203 959 9123 to book and appointment with on of our top Immigration solicitors.

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