Those applying for leave under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) are required to obtain an endorsement from the Designated Competent Body (DCB). For those applying on the basis of dance, music, theatre, visual arts (including museums and galleries), literature and combined arts, the relevant body is the Arts Council. We review the requirements to be met and the documents to provide for this application.
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa is for those who are highly skilled in the fields of science, humanities, technology, fashion and other arts. Successful applicants can be granted leave in the UK for up to five years and four months.
As part of this route, applicants must receive an endorsement from the relevant DCB in their field confirming that they meet the Exceptional Promise (for potential leaders in the relevant field) or Exceptional Talent (for leaders in the relevant field) criteria. Applicants must make an application and provide evidence of their expertise. If the DCB issue the endorsement applicants can then go on to make the stage 2, immigration application.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): Arts Council endorsements – The mandatory criteria and evidence
Applicants must meet the mandatory criteria listed under Appendix L of the Immigration Rules (HC395, as amended) and also the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) policy guidance. The Arts Council have also produced some useful additional information on their website.
To receive an endorsement, applicants must meet the mandatory criteria by demonstrating that they:
- are professionally engaged in producing work of outstanding quality which has been published (other than exclusively in newspapers or magazines), performed, presented, distributed or exhibited internationally;
- can show recent (within the last five years) and regular activity of being engaged professionally as a practitioner in your field; and
- can show a substantial track record in more than one country (if applying under the Exceptional Talent criteria) or developing track record in one or more countries (if applying under the Exceptional Promise criteria).
As evidence of the above applicants must provide at least two of the following:
- Two or more examples of recent (in the last five years) significant international media recognition in at least two countries, one of which can be their country of residence. Significant media recognition must be for their own work as an individual. Exceptional Promise applicants must also provide two or more examples of international media recognition in at least two countries, one of which can be the UK. The media recognition can be for their own work as an individual or as a contributor to work attributed to a group or other individual.
- Proof of having, within the last five years from the year of application, won or made a significant and direct contribution to winning (or for Exceptional Promise applicants been nominated or shortlisted for) at least one international award for excellence.
- Proof of appearances, performances, publications or exhibitions in the last five years in contexts which are recognised as internationally significant to the applicant’s field or evidence of extensive international distribution and audiences for their work. Proof must come from at least two countries (for Exceptional Promise, one or more countries), one of which must be their country of residence.
Providing evidence of media recognition is often used by applicants. The pieces can be online or in print and include features and or reviews. The word ‘significant’ is subjective here and Exceptional Talent applicants should ensure that the publications are well known, have a high circulation or most importantly, are arts and culture experts. It should be noted that Exceptional Promise applicants do not have to provide ‘significant’ international media recognition, so there is a wider scope for the type of outlets that can be used as media recognition.
The media recognition must also set out a critique or review of the applicant’s work to demonstrate recognition of artistic quality and the guidance specifically sets out that ‘event listings or advertisements are not acceptable’. Of course, positive reviews, and reviews linking to a wider theme of the applicant’s uniqueness as a performer, are helpful.
For Exceptional Talent, the piece must name the applicant specifically. For Exceptional Promise the piece must name either the applicant specifically or if they are part of a collaborative work which has been reviewed, additional evidence must be provided outlining the ‘significant and direct’ contribution the applicant made. This can be in the form of a detailed letter from a senior individual linked to the work such as the director or producer.
International award of excellence
Although an exhaustive list of acceptable international awards is not provided, the examples given are of a very high calibre including a ‘Booker Prize, a Grammy Award or domestic awards in another country, for example a Tony Award.’ In addition, the award must be one of merit and not a monetary award such as a grant or bursary, which limits the possibilities further.
This is a high bar, and applicants often decide to skip this evidential requirement.
However, do note that for Exceptional Talent applications, an award such as an arts scholarship which demonstrates an ‘appropriate level’ of international recognition may be accepted, expanding the possible ‘awards’ that can be considered.
In addition, for both Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise, applicants can show they have ‘contributed’ to the award or shortlisting. If applicants meet the evidential requirement by this method, they must provide additional documents which demonstrate that they have ‘significantly influenced or directly resulted’ in the award being won or shortlisted by the person/group named on the award or nomination.
Appearances, performances, publications or exhibitions
Providing evidence of appearances can show that the applicant has been professionally engaged, produced work of outstanding quality and has a developing track record, very clearly demonstrating that they have met the mandatory criteria.
Again, there is no list of appropriately recognised ‘internationally significant’ events, so each appearance will have to be considered on its own merits. The evidence provided should also justify how the event is internationally significant.
Applicants should consider what type of evidence to collate for this requirement. A CV is not acceptable to demonstrate appearances, and applicants can only submit ten supporting documents in total and should try to demonstrate as many significant appearances as possible (and must as a minimum show more than one appearance). A letter of support by an appropriate person listing all the events the applicant has participated in and providing further detail about them may be helpful in this regard, but this must be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): Arts Council endorsements: How we can help
Applicants must also provide three letters of support from experts in the field that must meet certain criteria. We are experienced in preparing successful Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) endorsement and immigration applications for individuals spanning a range of industries and sectors, including fashion, digital technology and science. We currently maintain a 100% success record.
If you need further information about the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, please contact us.