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Global talent visa guide: what you need to know

The global talent visa is designed to attract the brightest and best to work or set up a business in the UK. Here’s our guide on what you need to know about the global talent visa.  

The meaning of global talent

The global talent visa is meant to attract individuals of talent to the UK who are either:

  • Talented individuals – leaders in their field of expertise or
  • Promising individuals – those who have the potential to become a leader in their field of expertise

The global talent visa replaced the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) visa. Like its predecessor, the global talent visa is sector-based and specific. You will therefore only the definition of having ‘global talent’ if your field of expertise or talent lies within one of the following categories:

  • Academia or research
  • Digital technology
  • Arts and culture – this sector includes film, television, design, and architecture

There is no annual cap on the number of global talent visas available for the Home Office to issue. Some would-be applicants are deterred from applying for the visa as they are sceptical that their talent is ‘global’ in nature. Speak to a business immigration solicitor about the eligibility criteria and endorsement process as the global talent visa offers greater flexibility than other UK business and work visa options, such as the skilled worker visa or the innovator founder visa. That’s why it is worth taking specialist legal advice on whether you are likely to meet the global talent visa eligibility criteria.

The global talent visa eligibility criteria

To secure a global talent visa you need to:

  • Be at least 18 years of age on the date of your application
  • Meet the general eligibility criteria under Part 9 of the immigration rules
  • Have received endorsement from an endorsing body unless you are exempt from endorsement as you are a prestigious prize winner

The global talent visa application process

For the vast majority of global talent visa applicants, the application process is two-stage:

  1. Endorsement from sector-specific endorsing body
  2. Home Office application

To obtain a global talent visa you need to be successful at both stages of the application process. You are only exempt from the endorsement requirement if you are a winner of a prestigious prize, such as a Booker Prize. The full list of eligible prizes can be found in Immigration Rules Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes.

Global talent visa endorsement

An application for endorsement is usually made to the Home Office which refers your application to the relevant endorsing body for approval. The endorsing body will assess your skills and achievements in accordance with the Code of Practice for Endorsing Bodies.

The endorsing process involves checking to see if you meet the criteria of a talented or promising individual. If you secure an endorsement from the endorsing body, they will issue a letter that must be used within three months of its date to apply to the Home Office for the second stage of the global talent visa application process.

If you are already in the UK on a visa and are applying for endorsement for the global talent visa you need to give yourself sufficient time to get your endorsement letter before your current visa expires. That’s because the first endorsement stage of the global talent visa application process does not extend your leave to remain in the UK. Once you have made your second stage application to the Home Office you can remain in the UK pending a decision being made on your outstanding global talent application.

The global talent visa endorsing bodies  

The global talent visa endorsing bodies are relevant sector and government-approved organisations. The full list of endorsing bodies can be found here but business immigration solicitors recommend that immigration and sector-specific advice is sought before you choose an endorsing body to seek endorsement from.

How long is a global talent visa valid?

A global talent visa is valid for a maximum of five years. However, under the route, you can say how long you want to stay in the UK. The minimum global talent visa length is one year, and the maximum is five years. This flexibility means that if you know that you only want to stay in the UK for three and a half years you can apply for a four-year visa. That has the advantage of you having to pay the immigration health surcharge for four years rather than five.

An application can be made to extend a global talent visa. If you are contemplating an application to extend a global talent visa it is best to speak to an immigration solicitor about whether you meet the eligibility criteria for an indefinite leave to remain application as once you are settled in the UK you are free from ongoing UK immigration controls.

Can global talent visa applicants bring dependants to the UK?

Global talent visa applicants can bring dependants to the UK with them subject to their dependants meeting the dependant visa eligibility criteria.   

Settlement in the UK on a global talent visa

A global talent visa applicant can apply to settle in the UK and secure indefinite leave to remain (ILR) . To obtain ILR you will need to:

  • Meet the residence requirement
  • Meet the ILR general eligibility criteria

The global talent visa residence requirement for ILR depends on how you were endorsed. The residence requirement is three years if you were endorsed by either:

  • The British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society or UK Research and Innovation
  • Arts Council England or Tech Nation - this must be as a recognised leader with exceptional talent

The residence requirement is five years if you were endorsed by Arts Council England or Tech Nation as an emerging leader with exceptional promise.

If you did not require endorsement, as you were exempt through winning an eligible award, the residence requirement for the ILR application is three years.

If you have a choice of visas available to you, such as the skilled worker visa, it is worth looking at the ILR residence requirements for each visa. That is because the global talent visa offers accelerated settlement if you meet the sector and talent criteria whilst the skilled worker visa does not do so.

The advantages of the global talent visa

For many talented individuals wanting to live and work in the UK, the skilled worker visa is the obvious answer but it isn’t necessarily the best solution for you because:

  • Skilled worker visa applicants have to find an employer with a Home Office sponsor licence who is willing to sponsor their employment under a certificate of sponsorship. This restricts the number of job opportunities. It also makes it harder to change jobs once you are in the UK.
  • A global talent visa applicant doesn’t have to have a job offer before applying for a visa
  • A global talent visa holder can set up their own business whilst in the UK. Setting up a business on a global talent visa has fewer restrictions than other business visa alternatives, such as the innovator founder visa 
  • The global talent visa may offer quicker UK settlement than a skilled worker visa
  • Whilst a global talent visa and the endorsement process may seem like a lot of paperwork it is less cumbersome than long-term sponsor licence compliance whilst on a sponsored route such as the skilled worker visa or global business mobility visa

About our expert

Fozia Iqbal

Fozia Iqbal

Senior Business Immigration Solicitor
Fozia has been practising in the field of immigration law for over 20 years, specialising in Business Immigration since 2015. Fozia has advised an array of businesses, from start-ups to multinationals, owner-managed businesses through to SMEs, as well as individuals looking for immigration solutions. With a range of experience across the board, it is unusual for her to come across an immigration issue that she cannot tackle. 

Areas of Expertise

What next?

If you need advice on your pending Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) visa application or ILR application or want information and advice about the new global talent visa our business immigration law solicitors can help. Call us on 0800 689 1700 or fill out the short form below.

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