The UK’s Global Talent visa is proving to be a popular work route, attracting highly skilled individuals to come to Britain to work on the basis of their professional standing, without having to be sponsored by an employer.
There are two stages to the Global Talent application; first the individual must prove they meet the talent threshold, in most cases through endorsement by an authorised body, before they can proceed to apply to the Home Office for the visa.
In this guide, we focus on the Global Talent visa endorsement process, from the different types of endorsing bodies for each of the qualifying professional fields, to the applicable requirements and procedure to be followed.
Global Talent visa eligibility requirements
Having replaced the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, the Global Talent visa now forms part of the UK’s simplified and more streamlined points-based immigration system.
The Global Talent visa provides a specific route for highly skilled migrants in a number of recognised fields looking to work in the UK in their chosen specialist area. This visa is a niche category for those aged 18 or over, with exceptional talent or exceptional promise in any one of the following fields: academia or research, digital technology, or arts and culture.
This route is designed to encourage talented and promising individuals to choose the UK to work, without being restricted to working for a sponsoring employer.
To be eligible to apply for a Global Talent visa, applicants must either be an established or emerging leader in one of the qualifying fields, as determined by an endorsing body that’s approved by the UK Home Office. This means that for most applicants, unless they’ve won an eligible award and therefore able to bypass the endorsement stage, there’s a two-part application process: a stage-1 endorsement application and a stage-2 visa application.
To be granted entry clearance from outside the UK under the Global Talent visa route, or leave to remain from within the UK, you’ll need to be successful at both stages.
In a bid to boost the UK’s economy by attracting more exceptionally talented and promising migrants to the UK, the Home Office removed the cap on how many people can apply under this re-branded route. The new rules also permit certain prize-winning individuals to bypass the endorsement stage. However, unless you’re the holder of one the specified prestigious prizes — including some very high profile awards, such as the Booker Prize or Brit award, enabling you to move directly to the visa application stage — you’ll still need to secure Global Talent visa endorsement before you can apply for the visa.
Global Talent visa endorsing bodies
Approval from an endorsing body as to your exceptional talent or exceptional promise must be given before most applicants can be considered for a Global Talent visa. There are various different endorsing bodies depending on your specialised field including, for example:
- Arts Council England for an arts and culture endorsement
- Tech Nation for a digital technology endorsement
- The Royal Society for natural and medical science endorsements
- The British Academy for humanities or social sciences endorsements
- The Royal Academy of Engineering for an engineering endorsement
- The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for applicants from all research fields, supported by an eligible job offer as an academic or researcher, a fellowship, or a research grant from an endorsed funder approved by UKRI.
For those who are established or emerging leaders in fashion design, architecture or in film and television, their applications will be assessed by sub-endorsers on behalf of Arts Council England. These sub-endorsers include the British Fashion Council (BFC), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT).
You’ll need to decide which endorsing body is best placed to consider your particular skillset in the field relevant to you, and what requirements you’ll need to meet to be successfully endorsed. The endorsing bodies have applied their expertise in each respective area of responsibility to formulate the criteria to be used in considering whether an applicant is either ‘exceptionally talented’ or demonstrates ‘exceptional promise’. The requirements therefore differ depending on which body will assess your application.
The different disciplines that can be considered by each endorsing body are listed under both the Home Office Global Talent visa guidance on GOV.UK or Appendix Global Talent under the Immigration Rules. For example, an applicant for endorsement in arts and culture must:
- be engaged professionally in producing work of outstanding quality that’s performed, presented, distributed or exhibited internationally, and
- have been regularly engaged as a professional in their field during the last five years, and
- be able to demonstrate a substantial track record in more than one country (for exceptional talent), or a developing track record in one or more countries (for exceptional promise).
The endorsing bodies do not, however, cover an exhaustive list of disciplines, and it may be that your speciality cannot currently be assessed. In the field of academia or research, you may be able to get endorsement by having your application peer reviewed. However, if your skillset is such that you’re ineligible to be considered by an endorsing body, you may still qualify for a different type of visa.
Global Talent visa endorsement process
At the endorsement application stage, a relevant endorsing body will be required to assess your skills, abilities and achievements in accordance with the ‘Code of Practice for Endorsing Bodies’ that can be found at GOV.UK. Having considered your application, they will then advise the Home Office of their decision as to whether you should be endorsed as an established leader showing exceptional talent or emerging leader showing exceptional promise.
However, applications for endorsement must be made to the Home Office, albeit the application is considered by the endorsing body. The stage-1 application for endorsement by an endorsing body is the same process for those applying both in and out of the UK, where all applicants must apply online on at GOV.UK using form: ‘Apply for Global Talent endorsement – stage 1’. Applicants for Tech Nation endorsements must also submit an additional digital technology form that can be found on the Tech Nation website.
On a practical note, as stage-1 is an application for endorsement, and not a visa, it will not extend any current leave you hold in the UK pending a decision. You must have sufficient time to get through both application stages before any existing visa expires, or apply at the same time. A decision on an application for an endorsement usually can take several weeks, although those applying for endorsement in the fields of academia or research, and digital technology, may benefit from a fast-tracked decision, provided certain criteria are met.
Following a successful endorsement, your stage-2 visa application must then be submitted within three months from the date of your positive endorsement letter. If endorsement is granted, the final immigration decision will rest with the Home Office.
The overall cost for a Global Talent visa is £608. If you’re applying based on an endorsement, you’ll pay the £608 in two parts: £456 when you make your stage-1 endorsement application and £152 when you make your stage-2 visa application. If you’re applying based on an eligible award, you’ll pay the full £608 when you apply for your visa. For a stage-1 endorsement application to be valid, the endorsement fee must have been paid.
Supporting documents for endorsement
When applying for approval from an endorsing body, you’ll be required to provide a number of documents in support of your application to demonstrate that you’re internationally recognised at the highest level as a leader or, alternatively, have exceptional promise as a potential leader, in your specialised field. The evidential requirements for endorsement for a Global Talent visa will differ depending on the applicant’s chosen field.
In support of your endorsement application there will be both general and specific evidential requirements. These are again set out in the Home Office online guidance and under Appendix Global Talent of the Immigration Rules. You’ll need to carefully assess the evidential requirements for the appropriate body relevant to your particular skillset.
For example, for an arts and culture endorsement an applicant must provide three letters of recommendation: two from arts and culture organisations acknowledged as experts in this field, and at least one of these must be based in the UK, and the third from another well-established arts and culture organisation, or individual, with recognised expertise in their chosen field. Additionally, an applicant demonstrating exceptional promise in the field of arts and culture must provide at least two of the following:
- evidence from at least one country (including their country of residence) of two or more examples of recent recognition by the media for their work as an individual, or as a named group member or contributor
- evidence of winning, being nominated or shortlisted for, or significantly contributing to a win, nomination or shortlisting, for an international award for excellence, and/or
- evidence from at least one country of proof of either appearances, performances, publications or exhibitions recognised in this field, or evidence of international distribution and audiences for the applicant’s individual work, or as a group member or contributor.
The applicant must provide the documents required by their endorsing body, together with their application, directly to the Home Office. However, digital technology applicants must instead upload the necessary supporting documentation via the Tech Nation application form.
What if I already have Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) endorsement?
If you already have an endorsement via the previous Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route under the old rules — and are currently working in the UK within your specialised field — you can apply to extend your grant of leave under the Global Talent visa category.
Provided your existing endorsement has not been withdrawn by the endorsing body, you’ll not be required to submit a new stage-1 endorsement application, although you will need to show that during your last grant of leave you‘ve earned money in the UK linked to your expert field. However, there’s no minimum level of earnings to meet this financial requirement, where applicants can provide any evidence, provided it’s from an independent and verifiable source.
Can I use my endorsement to apply to settle in the UK?
You can live and work in the UK for up to 5 years at a time under a Global Talent visa, with no limit to how long you can stay in the UK in total, provided you apply to renew prior to expiry of your existing grant of leave. This also provides a route to settlement after either a period of 3 or 5 years, depending on which qualifying field you work in.
If you’re applying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) under this route, so as to settle in the UK on a permanent basis, as with an extension application, you must be able to show that your endorsement has not been withdrawn and during your last grant of leave you‘ve earned money in the UK linked to your expert field. You must also be able to satisfy the continuous residence, English language and knowledge of Life in the UK (KOL) requirements.
DavidsonMorris’ team of UK immigration specialists support with all UK work visa applications, including the Global Talent visa. For advice on the eligibility requirements and application process, including endorsement guidance, contact us.
Global talent visa endorsement FAQs
How do I get an endorsement for global talent visa?
To obtain an endorsement for the global talent visa you will need to submit an application showing that you have either exceptional talent or exceptional promise in a qualifying field, together with documentation in support.
What can you do with global talent visa?
A global talent visa allows highly skilled people in specific, recognised fields to work in the UK without a sponsoring employer. Applicants will be established or emerging leaders in their field as determined by a Home Office approved endorsing body.
How do I get an endorsement in the UK?
To get an endorsement in the UK you’ll need to submit an application to the UK Home Office, although this will be decided by a Home Office approved endorsing body for your chosen specialised field of expertise.
Can I work in the UK with a global talent visa?
The global talent visa will allow you to undertake work in the UK in your chosen field. This can include work in academia or research, digital technology and arts and culture, including film and television, fashion design and architecture.
Last updated: 14 November 2021