Personal Immigration
Business Immigration

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the Exceptional Talent or Promise Category

The Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise categories are for individuals who are recognised leaders or emerging leaders in their field of expertise. There are a number of endorsing bodies for lots of different fields of work, including artists and musicians, architects, digital experts, scientists and academics. While there isn’t an endorsing body for every expert, the growing list means that many individuals could enjoy the flexibility that this category has to offer. 

The main difference between Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise is that any individual who has been endorsed as talented can apply to settle in the UK after only three years residence. For those endorsed as Exceptional Promise, the period of residence is a little longer, at five years. 

Obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain is a necessary step before an individual is able to naturalise as a British Citizen. 

In this article we will look at what an individual will have to prove to the Home Office in order to apply for ILR in the Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise category. 

Time Spent in the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent or Tier 1 Exceptional Promise category for ILR

As mentioned, the relevant time period is either three years for exceptional talent, or five years for exceptional promise. However, this period does not need to be exclusively be spent in this category. You can combine time spent as a Tier 1 (General), (Entrepreneur), (Investor) or Tier 2 (General) as well as time in the Innovator (but not Start-up) category, providing the most recent period is spent as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent or Promise migrant. 

During the relevant period, the applicant must have no more than 180 days absent from the UK in any 12 month period relied upon for any grant of leave after 11 January 2018. For any period of leave prior to 11 January 2018, absences are calculated in a slightly different way, where the Home Office will look at the 12 month periods, counting back from the date of application. 

For anyone who travels frequently, it is a good idea to keep track of your travel as you go, so that you can ensure that you keep the number of days outside of the UK below the permitted limit. The Home Office do have a power to exercise discretion over absences over and above the permitted 180 days in any year, but are only likely to exercise this discretion where there are compelling reasons for the absence, such as illness. Travel for work reasons, no matter how important to your career is unlikely to lead to discretion being exercised in your favour. 

If you are unable to meet this requirement at the time that you wish to apply for ILR, you may need to wait longer, which could involve making an extension application to extend your stay in the UK until you will be able to meet this requirement. Luckily, there is no maximum time that you can extend your stay in this category. 

Earnings in your field for Exceptional Talent ILR or Exceptional Promise ILR

In order to settle you must show that since your last grant of leave in the Exceptional Talent category, you have had earnings, in the UK, in the expert field for which you were endorsed, and that the endorsing body has not withdrawn their endorsement. 

The immigration rules set out specified documents to prove that your earnings have been in the UK, which vary depending on the method of payment. The specified documents have to be provided, which therefore means that the payment should be made in such a way as to comply with the specified evidence requirements. Individuals with unusual payment structures, such as through agents who are based outside of the UK, may want to seek advice to ensure that they will be able to meet the requirements. 

The documents that the Immigration Rules set out include payslips for those in employment, HMRC documents showing earnings, dividend vouchers, a letter from an accountant with accounts or documents from a sponsoring institution. In order to show that the work is in the UK and in the relevant field, a contract for service/work with a UK institution or employer must be provided, or a letter confirming the work in the relevant field. 

The rules do not specify a set amount of work that must be completed over the five or three year period, and nor do they specify a particular amount of earnings that must be made from the activity in your expert field. 

There is no restriction on any work that is completed, so individuals in this category are permitted to work outside of their expert field if they wish to do so, but must ensure that they do this in addition to, and not instead of earning money from their relevant talent. 

To discuss your Tier 1 Exceptional Talent ILR or Tier 1 Exceptional Promise ILR application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our Tier 1 Exceptional Talent / Promise ILR lawyers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

English Language and Life in the UK

Although there is no English Language Requirement to enter the category, there is one when you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Applicants will need to show that they have achieved level B1 either through taking a UKVI approved english language test, being from a majority english speaking country, or having a degree which was taught in English. People who have previously spent time in other categories in the UK, such as Tier 2, or Tier 1 Entrepreneur, may also be able to meet this requirement, without taking a further test. 

Exceptional Talent ILR and Exceptional Promise ILR: General Grounds for Refusal

The general grounds for refusal apply to all applications, and cover a wide variety of matters, including criminal activity, immigration offending such as breach of conditions or deceptive activity. If any of these might apply to you, it is important to seek immigration advice about your options. 

Conclusion on Exceptional Talent ILR and Exceptional Promise ILR

If you are able to meet all the requirements, then it will be possible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after the relevant three or five year period in the UK. You will then need to wait a further period in order to apply to naturalise as a British Citizen. Unless you are married to a British Citizen, you will need to show that you have lived in the UK for at least five years and have held Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least one year before you can become British. 

Contact our Exceptional Talent ILR Immigration Lawyers

For advice about extending your stay in the UK as a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent/Promise) migrant or for ongoing advice and support throughout your period of leave please contact our immigration barristers on  Alternatively, you can reach our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or via our enquiry form.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

    Attach a file if it supports your enquiry. Only .doc or .pdf files.


    Expert advice & representation from immigration barristers that you can rely on.

    Google+ - Five Stars

    Read the 600+ five out of five star Google reviews of our immigration barristers.