Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa For Employers Looking to Employ Talented Individuals

- By Dr. Lusine Navasardyan

In a recent article we referred to the United Kingdom’s commitment to attract top talent in a bid to continue to remain as one of the world’s top development and research hubs. Part of this strategy is the Exceptional talent visa that was introduced precisely for purposes of meeting the need of the UK businesses of drawing in outstanding minds into the country’s development and research programs. 


What is the UK Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa All About?

One of the most important distinguishing criteria of this visa category is the kind of migration it is targeting.  This route is for exceptionally talented individuals in specific fields, such as science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology. Its sole purpose is to facilitate the entry of such exceptional minds into the UK and into the British research and development scene. The route is looking to make sure that individuals with recognised talent are not denied accession to the UK market, or that fluidity of experience and knowledge exchange is not hindered by the general limitations placed on movement of workforce from outside of EEA.

 As mentioned above this route is not for everybody, it is addressed to individuals who are already internationally recognised at the highest level as world leaders in their particular field. Further, it is also possible to use this route for those who have demonstrated exceptional promise and expected to become world leaders in their particular area.

As this UK visa category is targeting talents from science, engineering, digital technology and art it is understandable that the Home Office will need to rely on expert opinion from relevant field when assessing these individuals. In assessing the exceptional talent of the applicants for this route the Secretary of the State and the Home Office will rely on the authorities in each filed the route addresses. For these purposes, the Home Office has named five Designated Competent Bodies that will assess whether the person seeking to enter or remain in the UK meets the criteria of being an exceptional talent in science, engineering, humanities, art and digital technology for Entry Visa purposes. There are total of 1000 places that can be allocated through the five designated bodies and each of those bodies has its own allocation limit. It remains to be seen whether the 1000 places and their distribution among the five areas are meeting the market demand for exceptional talent. We expect these figures to remain set in stone, and expect to see frequent changes in order to meet the needs of scientific and artistic world. Important feedback will continue to come from the very bodies that are designated to carry out the assessment of applicant’s talents. 

Assessment Process of UK Competent Bodies

As we’ve mentioned above there are specifically designated bodies for each field.

Tech City UK has been named the designated body to assess the talent in Digital Technology field. Annual limit of this type of visa applications to the UK is currently set at 200.

The Royal Society is the designated body for the applications in the field of natural science and medical science research. For this type of UK visa applications the annual limit is 250 places. 

 For arts and culture applications endorsement should be sought from Arts Council England. There are 250 places to be allocated for visa applicants with recognised talent in art. 

For humanities and social science applications endorsement is given by British Academy and they have a limit of 150 places a year for such UK Visa applications.

Assessment of exceptional talent in engineering has been entrusted to the Royal Academy of Engineering with annual limit of allocated places of 150 as of the date of this article.

 

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Process and Procedure

The application process is broken down into two stages. The first stage is the assessment by the relevant designated body, only after being successful in succeeding an endorsement from the designated body, the applicant will be able to continue to the second stage where his application will be considered against the immigration rules. Each designated body has set their own criteria of assessing whether a person can be considered as exceptional talent or showing an exceptional promise. We will address these criteria in separate set of articles for each area the exceptional talent visa category is addressed.

When it comes to the second stage and assessment of the immigration rules, the only specific requirement for the exceptional talent visa is to have the endorsement of the designated body, this qualifies the person for being granted to enter or remain in the UK, unless the general grounds of refusal are present. Those are for instance unspent criminal convictions, having previously overstayed and several other circumstances where the person’s presence in the UK might be seen as undesirable or a risk for public security. However, we do not expect to see many applications in this category refused on these grounds.  

As a conclusion note, we would like to refer to an ongoing debate of the effects of large scale migration that the world is currently facing. Admittedly, creating routes that target only exceptionally highly skilled migrants can be considered predatory migration policy. There are numerous voices that denounce the current trend of developed countries to drain brains from the developing countries, by this very fact keeping those countries in a vicious circle of lack of skilled professionals to push the development forward. However, as damaging as such policies can be, they also help to create hubs of talent where exceptional individuals are more likely to reach their full potential and contribute not only to the well being of that particular country, but the development of the world in its entirety. Another thing to be considered is the reality of the developed countries needing bright minds more due to having bigger market for the end products of such minds, as well as more available funds for research needed to put such minds to use.  

 

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