Global Talent applicants must receive an endorsement from the Endorsing Body in their field of expertise. For those applying under the ‘Science Bodies’ (the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering or the Royal Society), this means meeting the exceptional promise (for potential leaders in their field) or exceptional talent (for leaders in their field) mandatory and qualifying criteria. We take a closer look at this.
As part of this route, unless they have received a prestigious prize, applicants must obtain an endorsement from the relevant body in their field confirming that they meet the exceptional promise criteria or the exceptional talent criteria. If the Endorsing Body provides an endorsement, the applicant can then go on to make the stage 2 immigration application.
Main endorsement requirements
The main endorsement requirements for a Science Bodies endorsement are set out in Appendix Global Talent of the Immigration Rules (HC 395, as amended) and further information is available in the Royal Society, British Academy and Royal Academy of Engineering guidance. There are a number of different accelerated routes for certain applicants including if they:
- hold, or have held in the 12 months before the application, a peer reviewed research fellowship or award named on the specified list published by the Endorsing Bodies;
- have been appointed to an academic or research position at an approved UK Higher Education Institution or research institute named on the specified list published by the Endorsing Bodies; or
- will be hosted or employed in a UK research organisation named on the UKRI published list.
Other requirements must also be met in these circumstances.
Who needs to meet the full peer review?
If the applicant cannot meet the accelerated routes, they will need to apply under the full peer review which requires meeting the mandatory and qualifying criteria. The criteria changes depending on whether the applicant is applying for exceptional promise or exceptional talent. If the initial eligibility criteria are met the application will be peer reviewed by experts in the applicant’s field. This is often a popular option for those applicants applying under the fields of science, engineering, medicine, social sciences and humanities.
Applicants must meet the following requirements:
- be an active researcher in a relevant field, typically in a university, research institute or in industry; and
- have a PhD or equivalent research experience (including industrial or clinical research); and
- for exceptional talent applicants, meet one or more of the following:
- be a member of their national academy or a member of an academy of another country; or
- have been awarded a prestigious internationally recognised prize; or
- must provide a letter of recommendation from a senior member of a reputable UK organisation concerned with research in the applicant’s field.
- for exceptional promise applicants, meet both of the following:
- be at an early stage in their career; and
- have been awarded, or have held in the last five years, a prestigious UK based research fellowship, an international fellowship or an advanced post judged to be equivalent to such a fellowship.
Applicants must also provide a CV and a letter of personal recommendation from an eminent person resident in the UK supporting the application which must meet certain requirements.
When is a prize a ‘prestigious internationally recognised’ prize?
Applicants can sometimes struggle with whether or not a prize they have received will meet the requirement to be a ‘prestigious internationally recognised’ one. There are no examples provided in the guidance documents of such prizes and applicants should consider providing background information regarding the prestige of the prize, the selection criteria and the standing of the judges, in addition to evidence demonstrating they have won the prize. In some cases, there may be a question as to what counts as a prize, for instance, being awarded a fellowship can be considered a prize in itself.
Holders of certain prestigious prizes can apply for a visa without going through the initial endorsement stage and this is a separate consideration to the qualifying criteria mentioned here.
When is a fellowship or advanced post a ‘prestigious’ one?
Similarly, there is no definition of whether a fellowship or advanced post should be a considered a ‘prestigious’ one. Information regarding the post or fellowship should be provided in the application, including details of any funding provided, the research outcomes and the selection process. A letter from the applicable organisation confirming these points may also be provided.
Letter of recommendation from a UK organisation
A recommendation from a reputable UK organisation, for an exceptional talent application, can not only meet the qualifying criteria but also provide the opportunity to further highlight the applicant’s strengths. The author of the letter should be different to the person who writes the personal recommendation, as this helps to demonstrate the breadth of the applicant’s experience. It should also be noted that the UK organisation must be ‘concerned with research in the applicant’s field.’ Background information about the organisation and how it is concerned with research in the field should be included in any recommendation.
Letter of personal recommendation from an eminent person
In addition to the above requirements, applicants must provide one ‘letter of personal recommendation from an eminent person resident in the UK with internationally recognised expertise in your field’. This letter should try and bring together the narrative that is being presented, of how the applicant is of exceptional talent or promise, the unique skills and experience they have, their achievements, how they can contribute to the field in the UK and how they would benefit from living in the UK.
Meeting the qualifying criteria is often more difficult for exceptional promise applicants as they do not have the same experience as exceptional talent applicants. In either case, evidence of meeting the qualifying criteria should be carefully reviewed and should highlight the applicant’s experience, strengths and expertise.
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This article was originally posted on 29 November 2018 and has been updated to reflect changes in policy.