Exceptional Talent visa (Tier 1)

Switch to this visa

You can apply to switch to a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you’re already in the UK with any of these visa types:

  • Tier 1
  • Tier 2
  • Tier 5 (Temporary worker - Government Authorised Exchange) on an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers

You can choose how long you want to apply for, up to a maximum of 5 years. You only have to pay the healthcare surcharge for the amount of time you choose to stay.

You must leave the UK and make your application from abroad if you’re in another category.

You should apply before your current visa expires.


You must first apply for endorsement in your particular field:

  • as a leader (under the exceptional talent rules)
  • as an emerging leader (under the exceptional promise rules)

How to get endorsed

You can apply online.

If you’re a digital technology specialist you’ll also need to apply for a Tech Nation Visa Scheme endorsement.

How long it takes

You’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks. You may get a faster decision if you’re a digital technology specialist and one of the following applies:

  • you’ve been accepted onto a recognised UK accelerator programme
  • you’re part of a senior management team that has experience in building and expanding a digital technology business
  • you plan to work and live outside of Greater London

You may also get a faster decision if you hold an approved peer-reviewed fellowship.

There’s more information about getting a faster decision in the guidance to filling in the form.

How to switch

You can apply to switch to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa when you’ve received your letter of endorsement.

Read the full guidance before you apply.

You can apply online to switch to this visa.

You must apply within 3 months of receiving your letter of endorsement from the Home Office.

Biometric information

You must also pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken. You’ll be told how to do this after you’ve applied.

You’ll get a biometric residence permit if your application to switch your visa is successful.


How much you pay depends on your situation and what you’re applying for.

Who you’re applying for Stage 1 - apply to get endorsed Stage 2 - apply to switch
You £456 £152
You if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia £456 £97
All dependants - £608

You 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 it takes

You should get your visa within 8 weeks.

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example:

  • if your supporting documents need to be verified
  • if you need to attend an interview
  • because of your personal circumstances - such as you have a criminal conviction

Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.