Applications to enter the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route can be complex. A Designated Competent Body (DCB), such as the Arts Council, the Royal Society or Tech Nation, must assess evidence about the applicant and confirm that they are exceptionally talented or have exceptional promise.
The good news is that for those who have met the threshold for entry to the route, obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is often a less complicated process. Our associate Nick Gore considers the requirements.
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route is for those who are highly skilled in the fields of technology, science, humanities, fashion and other arts. Having received an endorsement from a DCB, applicants can go on to make an immigration application and be granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for up to five years (plus an extra four months if applying from overseas).
Once in the UK, relatively few restrictions are applied to applicants compared to other routes. They can undertake any type of work they wish – on an employed or self-employed basis – and are not bound to a specific employer. However, they are not allowed to work as a Doctor or Dentist in Training or as a professional sportsperson (you can read more about the definition of a professional sportsperson for immigration purposes here and here).
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route leads to ILR, also referred to as ‘settlement’ or ‘permanent residence’. Gaining ILR means that applicants are free from immigration control and can go onto apply for naturalisation as a British citizen if so desired.
ILR – Residence in the UK
All routes which lead to ILR require the applicant to complete a period of continuous residence in the UK. The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route is advantageous as it provides for an accelerated route to ILR.
Those who have been endorsed as ‘exceptionally talented’ can apply for ILR after three continuous years in the UK.
Any time they have spent under Tier 2 (other than Tier 2 ICT), Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Investor) or the Innovator route before switching into Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) can count towards these three years. For example, someone who has held leave under Tier 2 (General) for three years, has received an endorsement under exceptional talent and switches into the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route can be eligible for ILR almost straight away.
This makes switching into this route highly advantageous for those who qualify. Under Tier 2 (General), that same individual would have to wait for five years.
Unfortunately, this accelerated route does not apply to any dependants. They must complete five continuous years in order to qualify for ILR.
Those who have been endorsed under ‘exceptional promise’ must also complete a continuous period of residence of five years before making an ILR application. The good news is that their previous leave can also be combined with leave under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) in the manner explained above.
Applicants also have to meet an absence requirement. Calculating this can be complex due to a change in the rules which we covered here. In general, during any period of leave granted before 11 January 2018, the applicant must have no more than 180 days absences from the UK in each specified 12 month period. The 12 month periods are calculated backwards from the date of the ILR application. For leave granted after 11 January 2018, there must be no more than 180 days absence in any rolling 12 month period.
ILR – Evidence of earnings
In order to obtain ILR, applicants must not have had their DCB endorsement withdrawn. They must also demonstrate the following:
‘During your most recent period of leave as a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrant, you have earned money in the UK as a result of employment or self-employment in your field of expertise… This is the field for which the Designated Competent Body endorsed you’ – Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) policy guidance.
Although applicants are not prevented from working in any field during the time they hold limited leave to remain under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent), it is advisable that they work in the specialist field for which they were endorsed if they wish to apply for ILR.
The evidence applicants must provide to show that they meet this requirement is set out in the Immigration Rules and the, easier to digest, policy guidance. If the applicant is an employee or director of a limited company, in general, they can provide payslips, bank statements showing salary entering their account, official tax documents or dividend vouchers. If they are self-employed, a letter from their accountant or the company accounts may be provided as evidence. If the applicant is a sponsored researcher, some further evidence would have to be produced demonstrating the source of the funding. A letter from the institution would have to be provided which must meet the Home Office specified requirements.
In addition, further evidence that the work was carried out in their field of expertise should also be provided from all applicants, such as a contract of employment or a letter from an employer setting out the applicant’s duties and roles.
ILR – General requirements
Applicants must also pass a Life in the UK test as well as meet the English language requirement. It may also be helpful for applicants to provide evidence of their residence in the UK, such as bills, tenancy agreements, etc.
How we can help
We have a strong record of successfully assisting those who wish to make an ILR application or switch into this route in order to take advantage of the ILR requirements. 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.
If you need further information about the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, please contact us.