The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa is designed for recognised leading individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology. The visa is known for its complicated application process – which is comprised of two stages:
- An application for endorsement to the relevant competent body in the applicant’s field; and
- A visa application to the Home Office.
As a result, this route is greatly underused. Only 983 visas were issued under this category in 2018, even though the cap was set at 2,000 visas per year.
The Home Office responded to this situation by expanding the list of fields which applicants can come from. These now include fashion design, and architecture.
The Home Office has also announced its intention to make this visa route more accessible in the course of the major immigration system reform due to take place in 2021, following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
However, contrary to this general trend, the Immigration Rules relating to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa have recently been amended with the overall result that the application process is even more troublesome than before. It is noticeable that these changes are aimed atindividuals from the ‘digital technology’ field, whogenerally use this visa category the most.
For instance, candidates applying after 1 October 2019 must be experts with precise and practical product understanding, rather than having a wide range of knowledge in the digital area generally. They are also expected to provide evidence that their previous work was financially profitable - merely having an established reputation will not suffice. In addition, applicants are now required to provide three letters of recommendation, while previously they needed to present just two.
Furthermore, ‘digital technology’ applicants will no longer have access to ‘Fast track’ endorsement options based on regional location, or due to being a member of senior management with extensive experience. As of 1 October 2019, only applicants who are accepted onto a recognised UK accelerator programme will be eligible for Fast-track endorsement.
It is hard to see why the Home Office has chosen to impose further requirements on Exceptional Talent applicants. When ‘tightening the screws’ with respect to other Tier 1 categories earlier this year, namely Investor and Entrepreneur, the government claimedit was being done to stop wide abuse of these visa routes. However, this argument can hardly be used in relation to the underused Exceptional Talent category.
Gherson has extensive experience in assisting applicants in their endorsement and visa application process for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas. If you require any assistance or advice with respect to this category, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.