Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa is a unique chance for talents to come to the United Kingdom and work in science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology, the arts and fashion. This blog post is about the main 32 steps to do in order to get this visa. I wrote it with only digital technology in mind and in soul. However, if you are applying any other kind of Exceptional Talent Visa, you possibly will find some relevant information for you too.
1. Choose the visa route
If you have chosen Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa for your visa route to the United Kingdom – that is good. And this also means you made at least a basic research on the topic of UK visas. So, probably, you know that there is plenty of Tier 1 visas. However, most of them require either access to significant investment funds or financial savings as well as limited opportunities to work and live in the UK.
Contrary, Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, having no financial requirements and being mild to many other immigration aspects like English language test and any kind of visa sponsorship, gives a chance to work and live in the United Kingdom to discover your talents for the country’s benefits.
2. Read guidelines of Tech Nation and Home Office
If you will write in a search engine “Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa guidelines” there is hundreds of search results relevant for this request. However, the most important documents are published by the Tech Nation, which is our Endorsement authority, and Home Office, the governmental body on immigration in the UK. Hence, first of all any applicant needs to read carefully these two guidelines.
3. First glance: Promise or Talent
It is easy to think but sometimes difficult to decide what route to choose. However, only you are entitled to choose who you are – an Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise. What is the difference?
For Exceptional Talent you have to be a leader in the field of digital technology. In other words, you are a founder of the Unicorn company.
For Exceptional Promise you need to demonstrate the potential to become a leader in the field of digital technology. In other words, your company is still not a Unicorn but demonstrates a good growth.
Very important to highlight: you cannot choose both options simultaneously. Once you have decided which route is most appropriate to your expertise, you must specify if you are applying as an Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise candidate on the Tech Nation visa application form. Moreover, you cannot change your choice after submission. By the way, if you are applying for Exceptional Promise and do not get Endorsement, this does not mean that your application automatically goes to Exceptional Talent route and vice versa.
4. Choose between tech & business routes
In Digital Technology there are two possible ways to go and the choice has to be based purely on your experience and qualification. For tech route you have to be a an expert in your field with a stable experience in niche technology and for business route you have to be a successful entrepreneur with a proven record of your work as a C-suite manager or any similar position.
5. Think about one key criteria & two qualified criteria
Depending on the choice of Exceptional Promise visa or Exceptional Talent visa, you need to apply slightly different package of documents. For any of these routes you must have (1) at least one key criteria, (2) at least two qualifying criteria. However, content of the criteria is different. I do not want to copy-paste all of them here since you read them in the Guidelines mentioned above. However, what is important – you need to think hard and provide as much proofs of your talent as possible. If you can support two key criteria – do it! It will increase your chances to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. That is why – think and dig into your own experience and skills.
6. Write a plan to do
After you have got an understanding what you need to do in order to get the visa, put it down and write a plan of your actions. In other words, you need to write a personal plan for the Endorsement stage step-by-step. It is better to place it onto the wall and look at it every day. Also, I recommend to make a plan in your Trello or any other productivity app and it will help to track your progress and “eat the big elephant in just small pieces”.
7. Set up Your own deadlines
As I have said and did – you can use any project management technique to make your Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application successful but what definitely has to be met – deadlines. You do not have any obligatory date or time to apply for visa but, knowing your own life circumstances you must think about precise date to do every step of your plan, outlined below. Without this important aspect you risk to start application in March and finish it next March or later.
8. Consider Fast Track option
Starting from July 2018 there are three options to make a visa application fast-tracked. Firstly, if you plan to live outside the Greater London area – you may be eligible for this option. Secondly, if you are experienced in scaling business and work extensively on growth in your company – you can also get your Exceptional Talent Visa faster. Finally – thirdly, if you are a participant of the tech accelerator, there is a good ground to get your visa application speed up. At the same time, the pure facts for any of the mentioned reasons are not beneficial – you also must provide a strong Personal Statement and other required documents to prove your unique circumstances.
9. Brainstorm supporting docs
After you have outlined your route and other important aspects of your application, it is the ideal time to think about supporting documents to prove your key & qualified criteria and eligibility for Fast Track. What types of documents should it be? Do you need to contact anyone in order to receive the document? How long (approximately) it will take to get it? Consider the real situations for understanding your chances to obtain what you need for your visa application.
10. Find example of Personal Statement
As I wrote many times, Personal Statement is the core document in the visa application. It represents yourself in front of the Endorsement Panel. That is why, start to draft it as early as possible. For this you need to read carefully Tech Nation Guidelines on page 25, find examples of Personal Statement (Talent Via app may help with this problem) and have a clear plan what you will do in the UK (also, where exactly and how).
11. Write Personal Statement
Basically, every Personal Statement for Exceptional Talent Visa has to have four main parts. You can find precise 12 questions to answer from the Tech Nation Guideline, however, in general you need to write (1) about your excellent professional past, (2) why you have chosen the UK, (3) why the UK must choose you as a talent (or promise), (4) what unique things you will do in the UK in short term and long-term perspective. I advice you to make at least a couple of drafts and then choose the best one or mix all of them and create a final version.
12. Proofread your Personal Statement
It goes without saying that this document is your silent presentation in front of tech gurus of Tech Nation. So do your best to make it as good as possible. I do not think that you have to go to the professional translators (unless your English is completely poor). Most of the people who sent me their Personal Statements are writing them by themselves. Personally, I have done the same. However, the main point is to check grammar using existing programs and apps. Some of them can even suggest a good order of words and other useful ideas. Listen to their advice but keep your eye on the meaning of the words and sentences. Sometimes, after an excellent proofread, you may lost the main thoughts that you put into the text. That is why, after proofreading check is it still showing your initial ideas and thoughts.
13. Find two-three referees
To get your two Letters of Recommendation you need to have two or three trusted people who know your past and believes in your future. There are some formal requirements regarding them – your referees has to be C-level managers in international companies or prominent scientists in area of your expertise. They have to write a Recommendation Letter on headed paper, with the purpose of supporting your Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application (general letters are not working for this). Also, every referee has to provide his CV and direct contacts (including number of mobile phone and email) in order to be asked about details and any other information in relation to the Recommendation Letter.
14. Prepare an example of Letter of Recommendation
It is definitely easier for your referee to write such document, if he or she has an example or any kind of sample letter. Again, try to find relevant documents that will not harm your visa application. The typical Recommendation Letters for universities, from previous job, for any kind of internship will not work! You need only Letter of Recommendation from past applicant in order to see the difference. Also, you can try Talent Visa app ; now it has two working examples of the Letters of Recommendation and 30+ sample phrases, useful for writing either Personal Statement or Letter of Recommendation.
15. Prepare supporting documents
There are no two similar package of supporting documents as we all have different life circumstances. Hence, you need to have your unique supporting documents for all criteria. It may be any kind of letters about your project, certificates about course completion, hackathon certificates, magazine articles or screenshot of GitHub contributions. In Talent Visa app you can find examples of supporting documents and put all required information in one A4 blank paper and totally not more than 10 documents.
16. Register e-application for visa
The first visa application has to be registered with Younoodle (for Tech Nation) and the second visa application is for Home Office. By the way, the Tech Nation visa application is a part of the Home Office visa application so it is better to start them simultaneously.
17. Check all the fields to complete
There are many fields to fill in the visa application. You may be familiar with all of them and know what to write or what option to choose (for Yes / No questions). Anyway, try to check in advance the fields to complete and make extra search for fields that are not clear. If you do not know anything – use the next step and use proactive approach for this.
18. Ask about help
If you will have any questions about the Exceptional Talent Visa process, stages, documents to add, information to write or the e-form of visa application – ask about support from Tech Nation Visa Ambassadors. By the way, I am in this network too. Or, alternatively, but more costly – you can hire an immigration adviser or lawyer who will help you with making Exceptional Talent Visa application clearer. If you want to have my own recommendation about legal firm with stable and positive reputation in work with any types of talent visas (not only Digital Field) – write to me and in a private message I will let you know about this legal immigration firm.
19. Check your bank account to pay for the Endorsement Stage
To apply for Endorsement stage you need to have 456 GBP in your bank account. The most convenient way to pay is via debit card so please, be ready to provide information about the card holder, card number, date of issue and CVV code. Double check the required sum in your account and its availability as well as appropriate limit for on-line transactions.
20. Apply for the Stage 1 online
Fill all the required fields in the on-line forms (both of them, mentioned above in step no. 16), attach the documents to support your application, put information about the payment for your Endorsement stage of visa application and submit this application.
21. Print the visa application and all docs
After you have submitted your visa application on-line it is a good time to print it out. Also, you need to print the supporting documents and make a package in order to send it for further processing. Remember, that without paper application your e-application will not be considered at all. By the way, the financial charge for the Stage 1 is also collected from your bank account only after the Home Office will get a paper visa application.
22. Send a paper copy to the Home Office
There is one city in the South Yorkshire (United Kingdom) that is well-known for every exceptional talent, exceptional promise and any person who wants to be in this status.
Sheffield is one of the eight largest regional English cities and the place where the decisions in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa are made. The precise address is Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Sheffield PO Box 3468 S3 8WA United Kingdom. When you will send your visa application, make sure that the package is tracked and will be signed on delivery. This minor but important thing may save your nerves and efforts in future.
23. Wait until the expected Endorsement
You need to wait up to 8 weeks after the delivery date to the Home Office. Yes, two months period is quite long time in terms of expecting results. But all you need to do is to check your email every day and keep calm. You cannot change the order of things and make your visa application processing faster.
24. Print your Endorsement letter
It will be The Big Day of your life when you will get your Endorsement letter. It will be sent to you by one of the Home Office experts. And this day will be almost start of your new life. I wrote “almost” since there is also a second stage of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application so-called “Immigration Stage”. However, the hardest part – Endorsement Stage is done!
After you read and re-read your Endorsement Letter, print it out and keep for attaching to the final visa application.
25. Collect the docs for Visa stage
I wrote a detailed post on this question and do not want to repeat basics. The main point of this stage is to demonstrate for Home Office that you will be a good immigrant who does not have any heavy health issues (I mean the requirement to attach Tuberculosis test certificate) and who will be in good relations with law and UK policies. All declarations that you will make in your visa application is the proof of this fact. Also, on these stage you need to select an address where you will collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
26. Double check your bank account and pay the charge for NHS
Again – the Visa Stage has a financial step to do. Every applicant has to pay not only 152 pounds for submitting the application but also to pay UK healthcare surcharge. You need to calculate it in advance just in order to understand the amount of sum. For example, when you come with dependants, the sum is growing greatly. For example, in my case, I have paid almost twice more for health surcharge in comparison with the visa costs.
You must have this money ready to pay out since without the payment, you will not have a chance to make an appointment at Visa Center.
27. Print all documents and visa application
Simplest step but check it twice or triple times – you should not forget anything, the price of mistake is too high. What extra documents to bring with you? Read here and also I wrote about this question in the Talent Visa app so it may be helpful for you.
28. Book a slot at the UK Visa Centre
After you have paid the required sums and collected all the documents – go to the UK Visa Centre web-page to book a slot for your in-person application. In different countries there is variety of unique options of Visa Centres work. However, in general, you may go in ordinary queue or apply in premium.
The price for the last is always quite high so if you are not in a hurry to come to the UK and can wait for week or two – use the economy option of using the general queue. But if you do not have this time to wait – be ready to pay extra charge for premium slots. And don’t forget to print the receipt of payment for this VIP-service! In my case, in Kyiv (Ukraine) the UK Visa Centre did not have my payment so printed receipt was very helpful and my visit was less stressful.
29. Apply in person for Visa
On the day you have booked a timeslot, go to the Visa centre with the required documents and apply them for the Second Stage. During this visit be ready to make a photo of your face for future visa vignette and provide biometric information about your person – usually it is fingerprints for future Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
30. Wait until the collection time
This waiting drove me crazy but no choice. After you give the document to the officer at the UK Visa Centre, you have to wait again. I know how it is painful, moreover, there is different duration of waiting. Living in the UK you need to wait up to 2 months (8 weeks) again. If you are applying outside the UK – the waiting period is shorter – up to 3 weeks. So keep calm and wait for the change of your application status and text message or email (depending on the option you have chosen in your profile) to be informed about readiness of the documents.
31. Come to the United Kingdom
When you will get your Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa vignette in the passport, please, remember that this is not your visa. You have to check the dates – usually a vignette has its duration of 2 – 4 weeks. You must enter the UK during that period. In other case, you will not be eligible to go to the UK at all and need to start visa process from scratch again.
32. Get your BRP and start your UK life
When you will come to the UK, you have around 10 days to collect you biometric residence permit (BRP) from the Post Office. The branch of this Post Office will be located not far from the address you have put down into your visa application. Hence, think in advance about the convenience of collecting BRP and do not miss the deadline! Your documents will not be kept at the Post Office forever. Moreover, you are the first person interested in having the BRP as soon as possible – with it you can start any kind of activity and business. In other words, your BRP is a proof of your visa and unique status of the Holder of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.
If you still have questions about this visa route – I am here to help and share my knowledge with you. So I wish you good luck with your Tech Nation Visa application and see you in our regular meetups of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Holders.