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Global Talent Visa - Arts and Culture - Top 10 FAQs

In the last three years endorsements for Global Talent by the Arts Council have more than doubled, rising from just 214 in 2018 to almost 500 endorsements given in 2020. Now, with European nationals also subject to the Immigration Rules, it is likely that there will be a further increase in applications in this category.  In this article we will look at some of the most common questions that we are asked about preparing applications for a Global Talent visa in the fields of arts and culture. 

1. Does my field of expertise fall within the Global Talent – Arts and Culture visa?

We set out in a previous blog, a list of all the fields which are covered by the Arts Council. You can read more about this here. The main areas for endorsement are:

  • Dance
  • Music
  • Literature
  • Theatre
  • Visual arts 
  • Combined arts

There are different sets of criteria for those working in the field of film and television. Therefore for some individuals they will need to look closely at their experience and decide whether to apply under the arts and culture or film and television criteria. This is most likely to arise for actors who perform in theatre and film or those working in moving image visual arts where there is an overlap with filmmaking.

2. What is the difference between exceptional talent and exceptional promise?

The criteria for endorsement for Exceptional Talent is more strict and more stringently applied than for Exceptional Promise. Exceptional Talent applicants should be well established in their careers and are likely to be in a position where they are receiving awards or have press coverage in prestigious publications where they are specifically named. They are also more likely to have established their reputation internationally, with their work available in multiple countries. Exceptional Promise applicants are more likely to be at an earlier stage of their careers and may not have the same established reputation. They also are not required to have worked internationally in order to make a successful application. 

The Arts Council do not specify a number of years of experience for either route. 

The advantage of making the more difficult Exceptional Talent application is that, if successful, the individual will be on a three year route to gaining their Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. If an individual is endorsed as Exceptional Promise, they will need to spend five years in the UK before they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. 

When deciding which type of application is best to make, an individual should look at their individual circumstances, the length of their career, their achievements and the evidence available and decide whether this fits better with the Exceptional Promise or Exception Talent criteria.  

However, the Arts Council guidance states:

‘If you select Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise on the application form, we will assess your evidence against the relevant criteria for the route you applied under. However, for arts and culture and architecture applicants (not including fashion or film and television applicants) if you apply for Exceptional Talent but your evidence does not meet the criteria, we can assess your application against the criteria for Exceptional Promise instead. If your application is assessed under a different route you will be advised of the reasoning behind this when you receive our decision.’ 

3. How much professional work do I need to have done in order to qualify for an Arts and Culture Global Talent visa?

There is no minimum or maximum amount of work that needs to be completed for either Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise. 

The guidance on Exceptional Promise states:

‘All applicants must be able to show a track record within the last five years of working in professional contexts and provide evidence of being recognised for the quality of their work, through awards and/or media recognition.’

This doesn’t mean that you need to have worked professionally for at least five years, though. It just means that the Arts Council are looking for recent work, in the last five years, rather than older work. 

If you are relying on the media review criteria and are providing evidence of press coverage of your work, you will need to provide two or more examples of press coverage, however, this could technically be two different media reviews of the same performance. 

An applicant with only one professional engagement, is however, unlikely to be successful and should consider obtaining further work experience prior to making an application. Most successful applicants will be able to show a track record of professional engagements prior to making an application. 

4. Can I rely on work that I have done as part of my studies?

The Arts Council has updated its guidance relating to work done during academic studies and when this can be considered as part of an application. The guidance now states:

‘We do understand that it is possible for students to have worked in professional contexts during their course of study. We also understand that it is possible for recent graduates to possess the required level of expertise to be future leaders in their field.’

The guidance also notes:

‘Proof of appearances evidence can now include a mix of professional and academic or amateur work, as long as the academic or amateur appearances are not the only proof of appearances submitted. We also allow evidence of awards to come from scholarships or fellowships for Exceptional Promise applicants.’

This is a significant departure from previous versions of the guidance, which explicitly stated that work completed as a student could not be counted, even when submitted along with other professional work. Anyone making an application should check the latest wording in the guidance before preparing their application. 

5. Who should I ask to be my referees?

You will need three reference letters in support of your Global Talent visa application. At least one should come from a UK organisation or company working in your field of expertise. The other two letters can come from either the UK or abroad. One letter may come from an individual rather than an organisation providing that person is an eminent individual, with recognised expertise in your field.

Where an individual is writing on behalf of an organisation, they should hold a current senior position with that organisation. 

Generally someone who knows you well and is familiar with your work will write a stronger reference letter, but it is possible to include a reference from someone who knows you by reputation alone, providing they have followed your career sufficiently to be able to comment on your achievements and the ways in which you will contribute to arts and culture in the UK. 

6. Will it affect my application if I have to travel a lot for work?

You do not have to intend to live in the UK on a long term basis in order to enter the UK in the Global Talent category and you do not have to meet any specific residence requirement if you apply to extend your stay further in the UK after entering in this category. 

If your long term plan is to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, there is a residence requirement of no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 month period during the three or five year periods relied upon. However, there is also no maximum time period that you are permitted to stay in the category. This means that a person who enters in the Exceptional Promise category for five years, but spends the first two years with extensive travel on international tours, could simply extend their stay for a further two years (providing they have earned money in their field during their stay in the UK) until their early absences fall away and the residence requirement can be met. 

For anyone who does travel frequently, it is helpful to keep track of your absences from the UK as you go, in order to make the process of completing future application forms easier. 

7. Can I apply for a Global Talent visa while I am in the UK?

There are no restrictions on where you must be at the time that you make the endorsement application. Most individuals are also able to make the application for a grant of leave in the UK as well, except those who are in the UK as visitors, or with leave outside of the Immigration Rules. However, the application for a grant of leave can be made from anywhere in the world where you are lawfully present, and individuals applying in this category do not necessarily need to go to their home country to make a visa application. Please note that this rule only applies to Global Talent applicants and most other visa applicants need to be in their place of residence in order to make a UK visa application. 

Making the endorsement application in the UK will not extend a person’s leave to remain in the same way that making an application for leave to remain would.  A person in the UK may wish to seek specialist advice about when and where to make their application to ensure that there is no interruption to their lawful status while an application is being processed. 

8. How long will a Global Talent visa application take to be processed?

The Arts Council processing time is up to eight weeks, however, the majority of applicants are processed much quicker than this, often between one and three weeks. However, if timing is critical you should allow the full eight weeks in case of any unexpected delays. 

If making the application for permission to enter the UK from abroad, the processing time could be up to three weeks, but the majority of application centres offer priority processing and so this period can be reduced to 5 working days or even next business day in some places. 

Applications made in the UK can take up to eight weeks, but again priority services should be available to expedite the processing. 

Endorsement and visa applications can be made simultaneously, which may also speed up the process. 

9. What happens if my Arts and Culture endorsement is refused?

If an endorsement application is refused, there is a right to challenge the decision through an endorsement review process. The prospects of doing this successfully will really depend on the reasons for the refusal and the credentials of the individual. 

In some cases it may be worth applying again, for example, after gaining further experience or different references, depending on the reasons for refusal. 

A person who has made their stage one and stage two applications at the same time should seek specialist individual advice if they receive notification that their endorsement has been refused. 

10. How much does a Global Talent – Arts and Culture visa application cost?

It costs £608 to apply for a Global Talent visa.

If you’re applying based on an endorsement, you’ll pay the £608 in two parts:

  • £456 when you apply for the endorsement
  • £152 when you apply for the visa itself

If you’re applying based on an eligible award, you’ll pay the full £608 when you apply for the visa.

If you’re including your partner or children in your application, they’ll each need to pay £608.

In addition to these costs, you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per person per year of leave applied for. 

Visa priority services range between around £250 and £1000 depending on the place the application is made and what level of priority is required. 

In addition to these costs, a person might also want to consider other costs they might incur, for example if a translator is required. 

Contact our Immigration Barristers 

For expert advice and assistance with a Global Talent application, contact our business immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


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