Personal Immigration



The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa category is for non-EEA nationals who are internationally recognised as world leaders in their field (Exceptional Talent) or recognised as having the potential to become world leaders in the future (Exceptional Promise).

The Arts Council can endorse applications in the field of arts and culture, encompassing dance, music, theatre, combined arts, literature and visual arts (including museums and galleries).

The Arts Council is able to endorse 250 applications per year.  However, these are shared with those applying in Arts, Fashion, Architects and Film. Of these, half are allocated between 6 April and 30 September each year with the remaining unused endorsements allocated between 1 October and 5 April. A further 1,000 applications per year can be endorsed by any endorsing body.

Requirements for endorsement by the Arts Council 

In order to qualify for an Arts Council endorsement you must be professionally engaged and producing work of outstanding quality which has been published, performed, presented, distributed or exhibited internationally. You must be regularly engaged as a professional within the last five years and show either a substantial track record in more than one country or a developing track record, depending on whether the application is under the Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise routes. 

The Arts Council will consider up to ten documents and at least two of the below three criteria must be met:

Media recognition

If applying for Exceptional Promise, the Arts Council will be looking for two examples of media recognition (including a critique of your work) in at least one country. You do not have to be specifically named in the media piece, but if not named, would have to provide further evidence of your contribution to the work being reviewed.

If applying for Exceptional Talent, you need two or more examples of significant international media recognition, from at least two countries. The review must be for your own work as an individual. 


Exceptional Promise applicants can provide proof that they have won, been nominated for or made a significant contribution to winning a national award for excellence. 

Exceptional Talent applicants can provide evidence that they have won or made a significant contribution to winning an international award for excellence. The international award can include a domestic award. 

Performances, publications or exhibitions

Both Exceptional Talent and Promise applicants should provide the Arts Council with evidence of their professional work in their field. For those applying in the Promise category, this only needs to come from one country. 

For Talent applicants, they should provide evidence from at least two countries. 

Does the Arts Council require referees?

You will need to provide the Arts Council with three letters in support of your application. 

One letter must come from a UK based organisation, institution or company, which is well established and widely acknowledged as possessing expertise in your specialist field. 

The second letter must also be from an organisation, institution or company, which is well established and widely acknowledged as possessing expertise in your specialist field. However, this letter can come from either the UK or abroad.

The third letter can be a further letter from an organisation, institution or company, or it can come from an eminent individual. 

The referees you choose should be familiar with your work and able to comment on your achievements. They should be people who consider that you meet the criteria for Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise, as they will have to say as much in their letters.

How do I make a visa application if my Arts Council Endorsement is successful?

Once you have your Arts Council endorsement, you will have a period of three months from the date of the endorsement letter to make your application to enter or remain in the UK in the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category. 

You can only make your application from within the UK if your last grant of leave was in Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange or Sponsored Researcher), Start-up or Innovator. 

Anyone who does not have leave in the UK, will need to ensure that they are abroad when they make their Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa application. However, the application can be made from anywhere in the world, so you do not necessarily have to travel to your home country to make the application. 

In addition to showing that you have been endorsed, the Home Office will assess your character and immigration history to ensure that you do not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal. 

There is no maintenance or English language requirement in the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa category. 

Leave will be granted for the period that you request (in full year periods) up to five years. The amount of time that you request makes no difference to the application but will affect the amount that you need to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge. 

Working in the UK on an Exceptional Talent visa 

When you enter the UK in this category, you have a full right to work, subject only to restrictions on work as a Doctor or Dentist in Training and no work as a professional sportsperson or coach. 

There is no requirement that you complete a certain amount of work, though you will need to do some, if you intend to settle in the UK permanently. 

You will also have a right to study in the UK, if you wish to. 

Can an Exceptional Talent Visa holder bring family members?

Exceptional Talent visa holders can bring their Spouse, Civil Partner or Unmarried Partner.  They can also bring their children, providing they are under the age of 18 when they make their first visa application to enter the category. 

When should I apply for an Exceptional Talent Visa? 

Your visa application must be made within three months of the date that you get your endorsement, and can be made up to three months before you intend to travel. You should therefore plan ahead to the date that you intend to arrive in the UK and work backwards. 

If you intend to get to the UK as quickly as possible, you can use priority services at most application centres to get a quick decision on your application. You should work on the basis that the Home Office processing will take around a month, but with priority services it can take around a week to get a decision. At some application centres there is a 24 hour processing service. 

You should bear in mind that before the visa application is processed, you will need to wait for a decision on your endorsement application from the Arts Council. 

How much does an Exceptional Talent visa cost? 

The current fee for the Arts Council endorsement application is £456 and in most cases the Exceptional Talent visa application will be a further £152. 

On top of this you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge of £400 per year of leave being applied for. 

Any Dependants applying with you or to join you will need to pay £608 for their application, plus £400 per year for the Immigration Health Surcharge. 

How long will it take for my Arts Council endorsement application to be decided? 

The Arts Council usually take between six and eight weeks in total from submission to make a decision on the endorsement. Once you have made your application, the Home Office will email you to confirm that the decision has been passed to the Arts Council for consideration. They will indicate at that stage that a decision should be made within 25 working days. 

How can I extend my Exceptional Talent Visa? 

If you decide that you want to stay in the UK for longer than you anticipated, or if for any reason you are not able to apply for settlement following your initial grant of leave, for example due to excessive absences, then it is possible to extend your stay in the UK. There is no maximum number of years that you are able to remain in the UK in the Exceptional Talent visa category. 

In order to extend your stay in the Exceptional Talent visa category you will need to show that the Arts Council have not withdrawn their endorsement and that you have completed some work in the UK within your specialist field. Again, the Home Office will check your character and immigration history to check that you do not fall for refusal under the general grounds. 

How can I settle in the UK in the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category? 

If you are assessed by the Arts Council as being Exceptionally Talented, you can apply for settlement after you have spent a period of three years in the UK. 

If you are assessed as being Exceptionally Promising, you can apply for settlement after you have spent a period of five years in the UK. 

In either case you are permitted to have up to 180 days’ absences from the UK in any 12 month period, without interrupting the continuity of your residence. 

How our immigration barristers can help your Exceptional Talent visa application 

Our immigration barristers have experience in assisting artists, musicians, digital experts and academics to obtain Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas. Our barristers are experts in the immigration options and will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to clients as part of a professional and friendly service.

We can also assist with

  • Applications for extension of stay for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holders

    Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas may be extended for up to 5 years.

    In order to extend your stay, your endorsement must not have been withdrawn and you will need to provide evidence that you are currently working in your expert field.

  • Applications for settlement for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holders

    After spending a continuous period of either three years (Exceptional Talent) or five years (Exceptional Promise) in the UK as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holder you may be eligible to settle in the UK.  A continuous period does not require you to have been in the UK every day; you can have had up to 180 days absent from the UK per year.

    In order to settle, your endorsement must not have been withdrawn and you must have earned money in the UK as a result of work in your field of expertise.

  • Fresh applications, Endorsement reviews and Judicial reviews for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent migrants

    If your application for entry clearance, leave to remain or settlement as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent migrant has been refused, our immigration barristers can advise on the merits of making a fresh application or challenging the decision.

    If you believe that an error has been made in a decision on your endorsement, we can assist you in applying for an endorsement review.

    If the decision to refuse your application was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper, our immigration barristers can apply for Judicial Review and provide representation at Judicial Review hearings.

  • Applications for Tier 2 General visas

    The Tier 2 General visa category is for individuals who have a job offer in the UK from a licensed Tier 2 Sponsor. You will need to have a job offer before applying for a visa.

  • Applications for Tier 5 Temporary Worker visas

    The Tier 5 Temporary Worker category is for certain types of temporary worker whose entry to the United Kingdom will help to satisfy cultural, charitable, religious or international objectives, including volunteering and job shadowing.

  • Applications for Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visas

    If you are aged between 18 and 30 and a citizen of Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea or Taiwan then you may be eligible to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme. You can also apply if you are aged between 18 and 30 and a British overseas citizen, a British overseas territories citizen or a British national (overseas).

  • Applications for Permitted Paid Engagement visas

    If you intend to come to the UK for up to a month to take part in a paid performance, then the Permitted Paid Engagement visa route may be appropriate.


To discuss your Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa team on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form.



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