UK Exceptional Talent visa: what do you have to gain from applying to it?

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas are granted by the Home Office to applicants who have been endorsed by Tech City UK as world leaders in the field of tech and will allow holders to initially enter or remain in the UK for a period of three years to pursue their work. 

UK visa to work in startups in london
London Tech City – Photo credit:

The tech sector is booming in the UK and this route creates a new opportunity for the best and the brightest from around the world to come to the UK to work.  Below, Migreat expert Leslie Sarma lists the benefits for you to consider for this exciting visa opportunity.

Benefit 1 – staggered application fees

This visa is applied for in two stages:  first the applicant applies for an endorsement from Tech City UK and then, once that’s granted, the applicant applies for a visa from the Home Office to come to (or stay in) the UK in line with that endorsement.  In an effort to keep costs down for applicants, the Home Office has staggered the application fee – you’ll pay half the fee when you apply for your endorsement and will only have to pay the other half when you make your visa application after the endorsement is in place.  Low risk, high reward. 

Benefit 2 – no employer sponsor needed to apply

Applicants in this category do not need to be sponsored by a UK employer – unlike other UK work visas. You’ll have to show that you’re a world leader in your field and meet various eligibility criteria, but you do not need to have a specific role lined up here – or, if you do have a role in mind, you won’t need to ask that employer to apply for a sponsor license and go through the tier 2 process if they don’t wish to.

Benefit 3 – no funding requirement

As above, applicants in this category will need to meet a variety of criteria in order to be endorsed and a specific set of documentation will be required.  There is no requirement, however, that applicants demonstrate funding at a certain level if they wish to come into the UK to start a business in this category (although they will have to show they have sufficient funds to support themselves once they arrive). This means you can spend the time in the UK building your business without having to secure investment first (unlike if you were applying to the UK Entrepreneur Visa)…and you can work in the UK’s tech sector while you do it. 

UK work visas for startups
Photo Credit: The Guardian Blog

Benefit 4 – limited work restrictions

Once in the UK, holders of this visa have very limited work restrictions.  They can work for an employer or be self-employed; they can also start businesses of their own and/or work freelance in several roles at once.  This allows for the agility and flexibility needed to grow your network here in the UK and meet your goals. 

Benefit 5 – attainable extension requirements

In order to extend your initial visa as a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent for tech migrant, you’ll need to show that you have earned money as a result of employment or self-employment (including profits from a business you’ve started) in your expert field while you’ve been in the UK in this category.  You’ll also have to show that Tech City UK has not withdrawn their endorsement of you.  You won’t have to show that you’ve created jobs in the UK or that you’re earning at any specific level (but please note that there are specific document to be provided, so be sure review the Home Office’s rules and guidance carefully at the time you apply). 


Could Tier 1 Exceptional Talent be right for you?

Since its inception in April 2014, there have been very few applications for endorsement in this category – visas are available! Check out the list of requirements to know if you are eligible on Migreat blog’s previous post. The Tech London Advocates community is terrifically excited about this opportunity and encourages the best and brightest from around the world to consider this avenue to come to the UK.  The tech sector is rife with opportunity in the UK – come join us!

If you want more information on how to apply for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, you can ask our experts online on

leslie-sarmaThis guest blog post is provided to you by Leslie Sarma, Associate at Penningtons Manches LLP and co-chair of Tech London Advocates Talent and Immigration Working Group.

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