UNITED KINGDOM – Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Now Open
The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) has announced that its new immigration category for exceptionally talented individuals, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) is now open, effective 9 August 2011.
What Is Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)?
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) provides a route into the UK for exceptionally talented individuals. Approvals are limited to 1000 places until the end of the tax year; i.e. from 9 August 2011 to 5 April 2012.
To qualify as exceptionally talented, applicants must be, in the UKBA’s words, “internationally recognised as world-leading or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts”.
This route is not a replacement for Tier 1 (General), which replaced the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme back in 2008 and was closed itself, to out of country applicants, in December 2010. Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) is not an employer sponsored route. Individuals qualify based on their own merits and based on an endorsement from a "designated competent body" (see below).
How Are Applications Made?
Applicants first apply, via email, for a Unique Reference Number from the UKBA. Next, the application is submitted to the UKBA via the UK diplomatic post in the applicant’s home country or country of residence, which will then forward the application to the relevant "designated competent body" within the UK for endorsement. Criteria for endorsement are decided by each competent body; some have listed their criteria on their websites already.
Each designated competent body has been allocated a maximum number of endorsements it may give for the year ending 5 April 2012. That maximum number per competent body has been further subdivided into two periods (9 August 2011 to 30 November 2011 and 1 December 2011 to 5 April 2012), with 50% of the endorsements permitted in the first period and 50% in the second period.
The competent bodies are:
- The Royal Society - an international fellowship of scientists.(300 endorsements allocated)
- The Arts Council England - the English national development agency for the arts (300 endorsements allocated)
- The British Academy – Britain’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences (200 endorsements allocated)
- The Royal Academy of Engineering – Britain’s national academy for engineering (200 endorsements allocated)
The UKBA issued guidance on the route is available here.
How Long Can Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Migrants Stay in the UK?
Initial entry clearance (from the UK diplomatic post in the applicant’s country of residence or origin) will be granted for three years and four months. Extensions of stay (further leave to remain) can be granted for an additional two years. Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) can lead to settlement in the UK after five years of continuous residence.
- It is unlikely that most corporate transferees will qualify under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent); however, if you have an employee moving to the UK whom you think may qualify, seek legal advice.