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Education Immigration e-briefing - Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - a helpful change for Professors and Readers receiving endorsements

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings


The Government introduced immigration provisions to make the UK attractive to those considered to have exceptional talent in specific areas in 2011. Those receiving an endorsement from one of five specific designated bodies are allowed to stay in the UK and work without restriction.

In practice, even the limited number of endorsements available has never been filled, despite several changes to the programme which make it easier for applicants to qualify, including the forthcoming changes to increase the number of visas available each year from 1,000 to 2,000.

A helpful change to this immigration category, simplifying the process for Professors, Assistant Professors or Readers seeking this visa, is due to come into force on 11 January 2018. Where the Designated Competent Body deciding whether the applicant shows exceptional talent is the Royal Society, the British Academy or the Royal Academy of Engineering, Professors, Assistant Professors or Readers will receive an automatic endorsement within the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) programme if they can produce a letter from the HR Director at the employing University which states:

• the role was advertised and an open competition was held for the appointment;

• at least three references were required and received;

• four senior academic representatives from the University were on the interview panel; and

• the University consulted at least one senior external expert in a relevant field about the appointment and that person provided formal input.

There are advantages both to universities and to individuals in obtaining this visa rather than seeking Tier 2 sponsorship. For example, the cost of the Exceptional Talent visa tends to be around half that under Tier 2. For universities, the benefit is in not sponsoring an employee and therefore being free of the obligations to maintain records and comply with the various duties arising from Tier 2 sponsorship. For the individuals, there is freedom to take other employment whilst in the UK and the possibility of extending this visa indefinitely (although the option to seek indefinite leave to remain is being reduced from 5 years to 3 years continuous residence).

Eversheds Sutherland has advised a number of universities on the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) process so please contact us if you would like to discuss how we can assist the institution in relation to this route or help the university support the application from the individual concerned.

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