You can apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you work in a qualifying field and have been endorsed as:

  • a recognised leader (exceptional talent)
  • an emerging leader (exceptional promise)

Find out if the field you work in qualifies.

You must also be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

There are 2,000 places available under this visa category between 6 April to 5 April of the following year.

Application process

You need to complete 2 stages to get this visa.

You need to:

  • apply to the Home Office for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in your particular field
  • apply for the visa

Most people apply for endorsement first, but you can complete both applications at the same time. However, if your endorsement is refused, your visa application will also be refused and you will not get any money back for either application.

How long it will take

After you get your endorsement, the earliest you can apply for a visa is 3 months before you travel.

Example You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.

Check the guide to processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in your country.


You must pay a separate fee for the 2 stages of this process:

  • stage 1 – endorsement
  • stage 2 – visa application

Stage 1 – endorsement

All main applicants must pay the £456 fee to get an endorsement when applying for the first time or switching to this visa category.

You will not automatically get a visa if you’ve been endorsed. You will not be reimbursed your endorsement fee if your visa application is turned down.

Stage 2 – visa application

How much you pay to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa depends on your circumstances.

Who you’re applying for Stage 1 – endorsement application Stage 2 – visa application
You £456 £152
You if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia £456 £97
All dependants £608

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

How long you can stay

You can stay in the UK for up to:

  • 5 years and 4 months if you apply outside the UK
  • 5 years if you apply inside the UK

You can choose how long you want to apply for, up to the maximum time allowed. You only have to pay the healthcare surcharge for the amount of time you choose to stay.

You can apply to extend this visa for up to another 5 years.

You can apply for settlement once you’ve been in the UK for:

  • 3 years with an exceptional talent visa
  • 5 years with an exceptional promise visa

What you can and cannot do

You can:

  • work – for an employer, as a director of a company or be self-employed
  • change jobs without telling the Home Office
  • do voluntary work
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • bring family members with you

You cannot:

  • get public funds
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
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