The new Global Talent immigration category is available for talented and promising applicants in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, humanities, digital technology, and arts and culture (including architecture, fashion design, film and television, and literature). The Global Talent visa is very similar to its predecessor, the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa; however, it provides a simpler route and expands on the existing rules. The Global Talent visa is no longer part of the points-based system. Instead, the Global Talent visa route consists of two main stages: the endorsement stage and the application stage. An applicant must already be a leader in his or her respective field (i.e., one who is considered an exceptional talent) or a person with the potential to become a leader in his or her field (i.e., one who shows exceptional promise). The Global Talent visa does not require a job offer for an applicant to apply, and it can lead to settlement in the United Kingdom. It is also important to note that the Global Talent category is not subject to a cap on the number of applicants.
If successful, when an applicant enters the United Kingdom in this category, the applicant will have a full right to work, subject only to restrictions on work as a doctor or dentist in training. In addition, an applicant may not work as a professional sportsperson or coach.
A Global Talent visa holder is entitled to bring family members. A visa holder may bring his or her spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner (subject to meeting certain conditions). An applicant may also bring his or her children, if they are under the age of 18 when they make their first visa application to enter the United Kingdom under this category.
In order to apply for the Global Talent visa, an applicant needs to complete two stages:
- Stage 1. Apply to the U.K. Home Office for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in the applicant’s particular field.
- Stage 2. Apply for the visa.
An applicant may apply for endorsement first and then apply for the Global Talent visa after the endorsement has been confirmed, or an applicant may complete both applications at the same time. If the applicant applies at the same time and the endorsement is refused, however, the visa application will also be refused, and it will not be possible to have the fees refunded for either application.
A Global Talent visa applicant is able to choose how much leave, in whole years, up to a maximum of five years, he or she wishes to be granted in a single application. The benefit of this flexibility allows an applicant to minimise the Immigration Health Surcharge. Also, an applicant for the Global Talent visa need not satisfy a maintenance funds requirement.
Stage 1: Apply to the U.K. Home Office for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in a particular field.
During the stage 1 application process, the applicant will first need to secure an endorsement from one of the appropriate endorsing bodies. The applicant can be endorsed as:
- a leader (previously, “exceptional talent”);
- an emerging leader (“exceptional promise”); or
- an “endorsed funder” under the U.K. Research and Innovation option.
The main difference between endorsement as a “leader” and an “emerging leader” is the qualifying period before the applicant can apply for settlement (i.e., Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)) on a Global Talent visa route. Generally, a leader can apply after three years and an emerging leader after five years.
As previously mentioned, an applicant will first need to receive an endorsement from an appropriate endorsing body.
The relevant U.K. Home Office–approved endorsing bodies are:
- The Royal Society—for natural and medical science applications
- The Royal Academy of Engineering—for engineering applications
- The British Academy—for humanities and social science applications
- Arts Council England—for arts, culture, fashion, architecture, film and television applications
- Tech Nation—for digital technology applications
- K. Research and Innovation (UKRI)—for science and research applications
Although the application is made to the U.K. Home Office, the endorsing body will assess whether to issue an endorsement, and each endorsing body has its own set of criteria. The applicant will need a substantial body of work and support from experts in his or her field for the relevant endorsing body to consider the applicant’s skills, abilities, and achievements. The endorsing body will then advise the U.K. Home Office on whether the endorsement should be granted.
An applicant must submit an online application for endorsement. A decision is usually made within eight weeks at the endorsement stage. If the endorsement is successful, he or she will receive an email from the U.K. Home Office with a copy of the endorsement letter that is required for the visa application. Once the applicant has been endorsed, he or she will then be able to apply for a Global Talent visa.
Stage 2: Apply for the visa.
During the second stage, the U.K. Home Office will consider the immigration aspects of the application, check whether the correct supporting documents have been provided, and check whether the requirements of the immigration rules have been met and whether the general grounds for refusal apply. An applicant must apply for the visa within three months of receiving the letter of endorsement from the U.K. Home Office and the application can be made up to three months before he or she intends to travel. An applicant may want to plan ahead of the date of intended arrival in the United Kingdom and work backwards.
Once the online application form has been submitted and the relevant documents have been provided to the United Kingdom’s immigration authority (U.K. Visas and Immigration) an applicant will usually receive a decision within approximately three weeks for an entry clearance application made from overseas. Depending on the country from where the application is filed, it may be possible to use an expedited service in order to obtain a decision much sooner.
It is important to note that an applicant will not automatically receive a visa upon endorsement. If an application is turned down, an endorsement review can be requested.
The documents an applicant must provide when applying for a visa include:
- a current passport or other valid travel identification;
- tuberculosis test results (if applying from a country where the test is required); and
- a copy of the endorsement letter.
An applicant will also need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh. Additional documents may also need to be provided depending on the applicant’s individual circumstances.
Switching Into the Global Talent Route
Whilst Global Talent visa applications can be made from outside the United Kingdom, an applicant may switch into the Global Talent category from within the United Kingdom if he or she was last granted leave under the following categories:
- Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) (sponsored in the Government Authorised Exchange subcategory in an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers) of the points-based system; or
- the Start-up or Innovator category.
An applicant can choose how long to apply for, up to a maximum of five years.
Global Talent Visa Extension
If a migrant decides to stay in the United Kingdom for longer than originally anticipated or for any reason is unable to apply for settlement following the initial grant of leave (for example, due to excessive absences), then it is possible for the applicant to extend his or her stay in the United Kingdom. The Global Talent visa category does not set a maximum number of years that an individual can remain in the United Kingdom.
In order to qualify for an extension of stay on the Global Talent route, an applicant will need to have earned money in the United Kingdom during the last grant of leave, and the earnings will need to have been linked to the expert field that led to the applicant’s initial endorsement. An applicant will also need to provide evidence from an independent source that is verifiable by the U.K. Home Office and must not have had his or her endorsement withdrawn by the endorsing body. The U.K. Home Office will also check the applicant’s character and immigration history to verify that the applicant does not fall for refusal under the general grounds.
An applicant who currently holds leave under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) is able to extend leave under the Global Talent category.
Global Talent ILR
A Global Talent migrant who continues to satisfy the requirements for an extension of stay set out above and demonstrates sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the United Kingdom is eligible to apply for ILR after spending a continuous period of three years in the United Kingdom if his or her last endorsement was given:
- under the “exceptional talent” criteria of any endorsing body;
- under the “exceptional promise” criteria of the endorsing bodies for science, engineering, humanities, and medicine; or
- under UKRI’s “endorsed funder” fast-track criteria.
If the applicant was last endorsed under the “exceptional promise” criteria for Arts Council England or Tech Nation, the individual will need to spend a continuous period of five years in the United Kingdom before being eligible to apply for settlement.
Absences for Global Talent Visa ILR Applications
The absences requirement for an ILR application under the Global Talent visa route is similar to that of other points-based system applications—namely, that an applicant must not be absent from the United Kingdom for 6 months in any 12-month period. There are exceptions for an applicant endorsed under the fields of science, medicine, engineering, or the humanities, who can link absences to research overseas.
Ruhul Ayazi is Of Counsel in the London office of Ogletree Deakins.
Carrie-Ann Hopkins is a paralegal in the London office of Ogletree Deakins.