Global Talent is a new visa stream for the post Brexit UK immigration system. The aim is to welcome the bright and promising workers of industries the UK wants to excel at.
For the best and brightest, the process is pretty easy, but far from straightforward.
What is an exceptional talent visa?
This is the UK government creating a pathway for expert and talented people to come and work and live in the UK.
The two stage process is straightforward if you can make an honest claim that you have ‘exceptional talent’ or ‘exceptional promise’. We’ll explain what that means exactly, but first the visa; what you have to do, and what you get.
There are two stages to a Global Talent application:
You can only make a valid Stage 2 application if your Stage 1 endorsement application is successful.
Who decides who is talented?
The UK government has asked a few independent bodies called ‘designated competent bodies’ to judge who has exceptional talent, or exceptional promise and to endorse them accordingly.
These bodies will give you an endorsement if you pass a set of criteria within their specific area of expertise.
Broadly, the areas where Global Talent visas are available are:
There are a number of organisations who assess applications on behalf of the designated competent bodies. As a general overview:
An endorsement of exceptional talent is not a visa
If you apply, with the required of evidence, and this meets the criteria you will be issued with an endorsement.
Getting the endorsement - the Stage 1 application - is the hardest and most detailed part. Applying for the visa - the Stage 2 application - with the endorsement and an application form, and a fee, subject to no issues under the General Grounds for Refusal or other immigration issues, will get you a Global Talent visa, which means you can:
It’s a good entry route, for people who are leaders in their field or who can show recognition that they are potential leaders, and the threshold to entry is achievable for those people.
This is also an underused route. For instance, a recent Arts Council England application that Walkthruvisa made under the Film and Television route was given a reference number in the low five hundreds. The year for visas runs April to April, and this was late in that period, February. In the previous Tier 1 Exceptional Talent scheme, the government issued up to 1000 Global Talent visa endorsements per year, and near the end of the year that reference number indicates they had used just over half.
In addition, extensive experience of working with academics, creatives and tech specialists on Skilled Worker and other visas who could instead be on Global Talent would confirm our assessment that the Global Talent Visa is an underused route.
What does 'exceptional talent' mean?
The various ‘designated competent bodies’ describe “Exceptional Talent” as being people who are already established as leaders or already recognised experts in their field.
The typical profile of someone who might fit this is a person who has been working in their field of expertise for some time and has garnered not just national attention, but international attention in two or more countries.
Further criteria specify prizes and awards, appearances and critique or review of your work by leading industry experts or recognised media sources.
For academics, this might mean holding a senior post at a University or Research Institution, holding a particular fellowship or possibly those who have a good track record of publications, patents and profile in their field.
In some categories, such as Film and Television, there is only the ‘Exceptional Talent’ criteria: a higher threshold to attain from the outset, relying on awards, nominations and distribution of their work.
How is that different to exceptional promise?
“Exceptional Promise” is described as being for people who have shown potential to become leaders or recognized experts in their fields. This offers a way in to Global Talent for people who are early-career in what they are doing but who have nonetheless attained some recognition and profile in their specific area
In these applications, we’re looking to assist people who have shown they have gathered meaningful achievements in their field, certainly on a national level at least.
The further criteria tend to focus on nominations for prizes and awards, appearances related to your work and critique or review of your work from respected and leading industry experts or recognised media sources
The main difference between Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise beyond the criteria for entry, is how long you must live in the UK to be eligible for indefinite leave to remain - or ‘permanent residence’. For Exceptional Talent (and including those endorsed under Exceptional Promise in the Academic and Research streams), it’s 3 years. For Exceptional Promise, it’s 5 years.
Who can apply for the Global Talent visa?
If you can prove your work has been reviewed and critiqued by other established experts in your field and if your work is in one of the following categories, you can consider applying for a Global Talent Visa.
Academic and Research: science, medicine, engineering, humanities
If you have an offer of a leadership job in academia or research, have or recently held one of a list of over 100 specific fellowships or are named on a research project grant approved by UKRI. Then the endorsement process will be a lot quicker.
The Global Talent visa’s academia or research category covers most academic routes. This category will include medicine, engineering, including Geotechnical engineering, biology, physics, chemistry and social scientists, so; Anthropology, Archaeology, Economics, Geography, History, Law, Linguistics, Politics, Psychology and Sociology.
The definitions are pretty broad, you can change jobs with the visa, as long as you intend to work in the same field, and there are no minimum salary requirements.
You can also apply on a peer-review basis, which considers your academic track record and outputs such as publications, patents, prizes and contributions to academic work.
Arts and Culture Global Talent Visa
Broadly, this covers, combined arts, dance, literature, music, theatre or visual arts, architecture, Fashion Design and Film and Television.
Again, the definitions are quite broad here, do get in touch if you have doubts and we can walk through your best approach for the endorsement and the Global Talent visa application.
Digital Technology Global Talent Visa
This category covers financial technology (‘fintech’), gaming which includes creative technology, technical and business aspects, cyber security, again the technical and business aspects, artificial intelligence - applicants would have to choose between whether their talent is in technical skills or business skills related to a product-led development.
What is the UK Global Talent application process?
While the application process itself is relatively straightforward, the requirements are highly specific. Before starting on a Global Talent application we encourage applicants to have a frank discussion with themselves and ask if they can legitimately call themselves ‘leaders in their field’ or ‘future leaders’. We like to talk with new clients about their portfolio, and make sure we put this in the strongest light.
In most categories, you have a maximum of 10 pieces of evidence - sometimes less - to prove you meet the criteria and this, we find, is one of the more complex aspects
The next step is gathering your evidence, seeking out letters of recommendation specific to the purpose of making the Global Talent application from the rockstars in your field, and submitting your Stage 1 application for an endorsement.
Play your strongest hand
For some applicants the endorsement application can be straightforward. For some it requires picking your strongest suit, as we have observed that creative people tend to be more than one thing.
An artist we worked with recently sat down with us for a discussion and we asked, what do you do? How widely recognized is it that you do it? And how unique is that? What's the level of your national, or international profile?
This particular artist had recently graduated. Her graduation project had received a lot of media attention. She was identified as a future promising artist by trade publications. That publicity in turn had led to some exposure in well-known lifestyle magazines and international trade fairs as well as commission pieces for galleries. She'd been invited to expos internationally showcasing her work. She'd been recognised in a couple of European level award nominations, and she'd been given a commendation for her work there.
The application for exceptional promise was strong - in places, it touched on the exceptional talent criteria, but we had to discount some of the more recent work she had been doing as there was a lack of documented evidence.
Not just creators…
Business leaders are able to apply. We recently handled the application of an entrepreneur, who had developed a successful smartphone App, the basis wasn't his technical skills. It was about his business skills. The company he had created in his home country was successful, and he had sales figures, app download growth chart and company accounts to prove his case.
This was an application under the Tech Nation endorsing body. The applicant was the innovator and leader behind the expansion and growth of his business in the digital tech sector on the basis of a product-led business. Skills which are very welcome in the UK.
The portfolio of evidence was very different to the artist, but the endorsement was received and the application for the visa was successful.
Three Letters of recommendation
Most Global Talent applications will require letters of recommendation. For Arts Council, Tech Nation and the Academic Route (Peer Review), these are essential.
Deciding who to ask for your letters of recommendation also requires going through a brainstorming process. What kind of people can write letters of recommendation for you? Who would you feel comfortable asking? Who are the top people in your contacts that you could approach, who are in a position to be able to comment in some detail about the exceptional nature of your talent, the benefits to the UK of bringing you to the country, and the benefit to you staying in the UK or being exposed to the UK market?
Any Global Talent application that we do starts with a conversation on this theme. And it's a bit of an audit about you, what you have done, what evidence you have, and who are the big hitters in your specific field that you could approach.
The people you approach will need to say some pretty specific things. We have detailed guidance on what these letters should include. In previous cases, clients often find it helpful if a third party (Walkthruvisa for example) approaches people on their behalf as asking for these things directly can sometimes feel like a considerable request. And you want to ensure that you ask precisely for a letter which will make the difference.
Evidence for the UK Global Talent Visa
We approach the Global Talent Visa evidence requirement by asking which pieces of your work would you rescue from a fire? If that’s not the kind of thing you produce, how else is recognition measured; plays, listens, viewers, distribution figures, box office numbers? Who has commissioned you to do a piece of work?
One of the most complicated issues with a Global Talent application is that in some cases, it can feel subjective. Putting together a convincing portfolio of evidence is tricky, and an impartial and experienced eye can really help make your application for endorsement as strong as possible.
The waiting times for the UK Global Talent Visa…
Each of the different areas has a different endorsing body, with different wait times. They tend to be between 4 -12 weeks. And you can add another 3 - 8 weeks for the visa itself.
Can I bring my family with me to the UK on a Global Talent visa?
Yes you can, your partner can work, and your children can attend school. They’ll be able to access healthcare in the UK and live with you in the country while you pursue your work.
One thing you should know though, is that although you can bring your family, and the main visa holder may be able to qualify for indefinite leave to remain after three years, family members only qualify for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years
Immigration health surcharge
The length of time on the Global Talent visa is dictated by how much immigration health surcharge you're willing to pay and of course, how long you need to apply for to settle. The surcharge is currently £624 per year.
For example, applicants will often pay for however long it will take them to get to indefinite leave to remain.
As another example, if somebody has already been working in the UK on Tier 2/Skilled Worker for let's say, three years, they can switch to a global talent visa and once in place, can apply to settle. The minimum amount of time is one year, so they'll just pay for one year of global talent and then apply for their to indefinite leave to remain.
Anyone who's applying under the global talent visa will want a minimum of three years, as that is the minimum to ILR. Anyone who's applying on the basis of exceptional promise visa will usually want five years.
Can I extend a UK Global Talent visa?
You can extend or renew your visa as many times as you like, if the endorsing body does not withdraw its endorsement, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.
In practice after the 3 or 5 year period, it is often easier to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) unless there is a reason you cannot do so.
How much does the Global Talent visa cost?
The total cost is £608, which comprises the £456 Stage 1 endorsement fee, and the £152 Stage 2 application fee.
How hard is it to apply for the Global Talent Visa?
The endorsement process - Stage 1 - is the most significant and detailed part of the Global Talent visa application process. It takes time, detailed work and can be difficult to decide what evidence to include and to seek out the types of people who can provide you with a stand-out letter of recommendation. This is something having an external, experienced eye can very much help with help with.
Once endorsed, you have 90 days from the date of endorsement to make the visa application itself.
The Stage 2 visa application is straightforward provided you do not have an adverse immigration history and that you follow the process for making a valid application - for full application service clients, we include this in our service.
It's often interesting how frequently patterns and themes emerge in the enquiries we receive at any given time.