Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) – Further Changes

Revisions to Application criteria – Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

UKBA has announced a number of changes to the Policy Guidance issued for applications under the Exceptional Talent category. These changes are applicable from 1 October 2012.

How will these changes affect applicants?

The answer is that, largely, the fundamentals of the category remain the same. The changes seek  to simplify the application process and remove some of the ambiguity in the wording of certain sections of the guidance notes.

New Applicants

One of the areas where UKBA has sought to simplify applications is by removing the need for applicant to request a Unique Reference Number (“URN”). UKBA considers that it can manage the visa category without the need for a URN, so this should speed up the application process.

The number of visas available under the category remains at 1000 places, available between 6 April 2012 to 5 April 2013. The first 500 endorsements either have/are in the process of being allocated. The second 500 will be allocated between 1 October 2012 – 5 April 2013.

The available endorsements are divided between the four Designated Competent Bodies as follows:

The Royal Society – 300 places, 150 up to 30 September 2012 and 150 between 1 October 2012 – 5 April 2013;

The Arts Council England – 300 places, 150 up to 30 September 2012 and 150 between 1 October 2012 – 5 April 2013;

The British Academy – 200 places, 100 up to 30 September 2012 and 100 between 1 October 2012 – 5 April 2013;

The Royal Academy of Engineering – 200 places, 100 up to 30 September 2012 and 100 between 1 October 2012 – 5 April 2013

It remains the case that ‘Exceptional Promise’ applications are only applicable in the fields of Science, Humanities and Engineering.  UKBA maintains its position that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to assess exceptional promise in the Arts category.

Extensions

For those already holding an Exceptional Talent visa and seeking an extension, under the soon to be replaced guidance notes, an applicant will be required to show that they are “economically active in their expert field”. The new guidelines remove the term ‘economically active’ and now list the required documents in order to sufficiently demonstrate income, whether the applicant is employed, self-employed or in a sponsored research capacity.

In Country Applications

Individuals currently in the United Kingdom as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant or a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Migrant, will now be able to make an Exceptional Talent application from within the U.K. This is an important and progressive change which alleviates pressure on applicants who were previously required to return home to make an initial application. There remains no provision in the Immigration Rules for those in the U.K in any other category to switch in-country to Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent).