32 steps to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

Follow 32 steps to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

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 to get this visa. I wrote it with only digital technology in mind and the 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 has no financial requirements and is mild to many other immigration aspects. For example, the English language test or any visa sponsorship. That is why it 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 write in a search engine “Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa guidelines” there are 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, an applicant needs to read these two guidelines carefully.

3. First glance: Promise or Talent

It is easy to think but sometimes tricky 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 shows 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 your route. You must choose are you 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, when you apply for Exceptional Promise and do not get Endorsement, this does not mean that your application automatically goes to Exceptional Talent route and vice versa. However, there are cases, when Endorsement Panel have changed the route. There are a couple of cases when applicants for talent visa got promises and candidates for exceptional promises got their exceptional talents.

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 the tech route, you have to be an expert in your field with a stable experience in niche technology. For the 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 a 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, the 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 many 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 of what you need to do 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 making a plan in your Trello or any other productivity app. It will help to track your progress and “eat the big elephant in just small pieces”.

7. Set up Your deadlines

As I have said and done – you can use any project management technique to make your Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application successful. But what has to be met – deadlines. You do not have any obligatory date or time to apply for a visa. However, knowing your life circumstances, you must think about a precise date to do every step of your plan, outlined below. Without this important aspect, you risk to start an application in March and finish it next March or later.

8. Consider Fast Track option

Starting from October 2019, if you are a participant (or, at least, are already accepted) to the tech accelerator, there is a good ground to get your visa application speed up. The list of the accelerators is provided at the Tech Nation Guidelines on page 13.  At the same time, you must remember: 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. They are required to prove your key & qualifying criteria and eligibility for Fast Track. What types of documents should it be? Do you need to contact anyone 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 an 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 Tech Nation Guidelines on page 25 carefully, find examples of Personal Statements (Talent Via app may help with this problem). Also, you must have a clear plan for what you will do in the UK (also, where exactly and how).

11. Write Personal Statement

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 the short term and long-term perspective. I advise 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

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. 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 lose 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 three-four referees

To get your three Letters of Recommendation, you need to have three or two trusted people who know your past and believes in your future. There are some formal requirements regarding them – your referees have to be C-level managers in international companies or prominent scientists in the area of your expertise. They have to write a Recommendation Letter on headed paper, to support 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 several mobile phone and email). This information is important to contact him or her about the details of the Recommendation Letter.

14. Prepare an example of Letter of Recommendation

It is easier for your referee to write such a document if he or she has an example or any sample letter. Again, try to find relevant documents that will not harm your visa application. The typical Recommendation Letters for universities, from the previous job, for an internship, will not work! You need only a Letter of Recommendation from the past applicant to see the difference. Also, you can try the 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 packages 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 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 not more than ten documents.

16. Apply online for visa

You have to make two visa applications. One – for Home Office (including fee payment), the other one – for Tech Nation (including attachments of supporting documents).  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 do a new search for fields that are not clear. If you do not know anything – use the next step and use a proactive approach for this.

18. Ask about help

If you 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 Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Community. By the way, I am in this network too. Or 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 recommendation about a legal firm with a solid and positive reputation – let me know, please. They work with any types of talent visas (not only Digital Technologies). Hence, write to me, and in a private message, I will make you an introduction to the legal immigration firm.

19. Check your bank account to pay for the Endorsement Stage

To apply for an 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 cardholder, 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. Done!

21. No paper application

It is better to say one more time: starting from October 1, 2019, there is an official statement in both Guidelines, that “You do not need to send printed hard copies to Tech Nation or the Home Office” (page 16 of the Guidelines). Please, do not waste your time and efforts to print your docs.

22. Wait until the expected Endorsement

You need to wait up to 8 weeks after the confirmation email from the Home Office. Yes, two months period is a quite long time in terms of expected 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.

23. Contact Home Office (not obligatory)

If you have any doubt about your submitted application, the date when Home Office has received it or a fact that you do not have your confirmation email (after two weeks of your pressing the button “Submit”) you can contact Home Office via email exceptionaltalentend@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk


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 almost start of your new life. I wrote “almost” since there is also the 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 did not want to repeat the basics. The main point of this stage is to demonstrate for Home Office that you will be a good immigrant. In other words, a person who does not have any massive health issues (I mean the requirement to attach a 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 this 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 applying but also to pay UK healthcare surcharge. You need to calculate it in advance to understand the amount of sum. For example, when you come with dependants, the quantity is growing significantly. For instance, 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 the Visa Center.

27. Print all documents and visa application

Most straightforward step but check it twice or three times – you should not forget anything, the price of a mistake is too high. What other 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 a variety of unique options for Visa Centre’s work. However, in general, you may go in an ordinary queue or apply in premium.

The price of the last is always quite high. So if you are not in a hurry to come to the UK and can wait for a 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 an 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. Hence, a printed receipt was constructive, 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 take a photo of your face for future visa vignette and provide biometric information about your person – usually, it is fingerprinted 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 a different duration of waiting. When 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. 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). This notification will inform you about the readiness of the documents.

31. Come to the United Kingdom

When you 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 cases, you will not be eligible to go to the UK at all and need to start the visa process from scratch again.

32. Get your BRP and start your UK life

When you come to the UK, you have around ten days to collect your 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 activity and business. In other words, your BRP is 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.

If you do not have time to read long guidelines, find the main answers
in 32 steps to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application - Examples of Documents and Help

Author: Andrii Seleznov

This blog is written by Andrii Seleznov. Andrii is a holder of Tier 1 Exceptional Promise visa. He is an experienced entrepreneur, professional engineer, founder and CTO at Petiole and Alumni Mentor at GIST Tech-I Competition

26 thoughts on “32 steps to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa”

  1. Hi Andrii,

    Hope you’re having a good day.

    I will be pursuing my graduate studies from the UK starting September, 2019. I’m planning to apply for the Tier 1 exceptional talent visa. Can I study on a Tier 1 Visa or do I need to go for a Tier 4 visa?

    Ishan Rana

    1. Hi Ishan,
      Tech Nation Visa gives you a full capacity to work and study in the UK – you will not be limited with any time restrictions for either activity (however, you cannot work as a dentist, sportperson, etc.). Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa provides more freedom than Tier 4 General Visa (for example, students have restrictions for 20 hours of work per week).
      At the same time, for full answer to your question it is better to ask immigration lawyer just to double check.

  2. Hi,
    do i need to send a paper copy of my document to home office after submit my application of tech Nation? because i have no idea why they need printed papers which we already submitted them over tech Nation application, please clarify

    1. Dear Bassem,
      Thank you for your question and the short answer is YES, you do! You must send a paper copy of your application otherwise, your visa application will not be considered at all.
      I believe this obligation is created in order to get your signed application and hard copies of supporting documents as well as Letters of Recommendation. In any case – the processing time for your Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application will start from the date when Home Office will receive your package with paper copies of docs.

      1. Thank you Andrii,
        from Visa guidance file
        You do not need to send printed hard copies to TechNation or the Home Office. page 43.

  3. so if my understanding is clear ,we would need below documents to be uploaded and sent.
    1- Personal statement (max 7000 chars)
    2- 2 references on official letter head
    3- 10 supporting documents

    do we also need to write any other letter for example to qualify for eligibility criterion such as continued education so i need to write that also inside my personal statement of 7000 chars

    1. Hi Vijit,
      Thanks for your questions.
      Your eligibility will be supported by those 10 supporting documents that you have already mentioned.
      So you should not attach any extra letter for this point.
      But regarding what you must have – your CV and it is not counted as a supporting doc.
      Any other documents that can confirm your professional experience or any other facts from Personal Statement – have to be among 10 supporting documents.

      Andrii Seleznov

  4. Hi Andrii,

    Thanks for this blog! I’m wondering how do you define digital tech and in terms of the recommendation letter, does it need to be from someone whose employer is in digital technology or his/her work is in digital tech? For example, someone who’s head of smart mobility at a carmaker company, what he works on is indeed digital tech, but the company itself won’t be categorized as digital tech. Please kindly advise.


    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thank you for your question.
      Yes, it is quite tough situation but I can share my own life example with you.
      One of my Letters of Recommendation was from a person who is involved in investment industry. Startups were not their main focus. My referee was covering Europe as a whole region and did not have too digital technological background. But, she was invited to be a judge of one prestigious startup competition, she was a mentor at another digital occasion. Hence, this brief about her relationship with Digital Technologies was embedded in the Letter of Recommendation.
      Additionally, I attached her CV with good stable background in science, entrepreneurship (non-digital) and investments.
      Together with my supporting documents and Personal Statement this Letter of Recommendation was considered as eligible and trusted document.
      Hence, I believe that in your case it is possible to follow the similar practice and explain what digital part of background you are appealing to.
      If you will have any other questions – let me know about them.

      Andrii Seleznov

  5. I am about to apply for an exceptional talent visa but at the moment I am an overstayer because my previous visa application has been refused and I have families here, how should I go about it?

    1. Dear Joshua,
      This situation is quite difficult for sharing any ideas about Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application.
      I know that Home Office is not a big fan of immigrants who overstay in the United Kingdom despite the expiration date of their visa. That is why I strongly recommend you to seek a professional support from immigration lawyers. If you need their contacts and introduction – let me know.

      Andrii Seleznov

  6. Hello Andrii,
    Does one needs to upload the videos in a CD (after uploading onto the site during application for endorsement)?
    Am also looking at choosing either Edinburgh or Liverpool (region outside greater London) to fasten my application. Which of the 2 countries is better?

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for your questions.
      Regarding videos in CD – you are the first person ever who ask me about this. I do not know about requirements from Home Office Guidelines (or Tech Nation Visa Guidelines) regarding video attachments or CDs for visa applications. So that means either I do not understand your question correct or as in general practice – there is no need of any videos and CD.
      As of the choice of your cities – Edinburgh and Liverpool – both of them are suitable for considering the visa application under Fast Track option. Hence, it is up to you what city to choose.

      Andrii Seleznov

  7. Hello Andreii,
    Very nice article good work.
    My question is do we have to send bank statements in supporting documents, is it necessary.

    Best regards

    1. Hi Alee,
      Thank you for your question.
      No, we do not need to send any bank statement in the Visa application for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa (Digital Technologies or any other field). It does not influence any part of the decision and it is better not to annoy the Endorsement Panel with the Bank Statement. This document cannot be proof of your talents at all since sometimes it can be a result of parents or other relatives’ talents if you know what I mean.

      Andrii Seleznov

  8. Hello Andrii,

    I have more than 10 years of IT experience, and worked in UK ICT2 Visa multiple times and return to home country India after finishing of my assignment.

    I am currently working in field of digital technology.

    I have couple of quires as below :-

    · I need someone help to prepare documentation for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

    · I am ready to hire an immigration adviser or lawyer , what will be the approximately cost for this ?



    1. Dear Rahul,
      Thank you for your message and questions. On one day, I will publish my research on the topic of immigration advice and Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa applications. But as of now, you can check your email, and I have already made an introduction for you with British solicitors who work with this type of visa applications.
      I hope it will work and help.
      Andrii Seleznov

  9. Hi Andrii,

    Thank you so much for all of your advice.
    I was recently endorsed which is great news!! I am applying for stage 2 from the USA and I’m in a rush to get to the UK. If I pay for the premium service (I know it is high) does this eliminate the 3 week wait period? Is this when you would find out within 24 hours instead?

    I also read something that stated you needed to get a stamp at your appointment and then mail off your passport to New York? What is all of this about?

    1. Hi Mitch,
      Apology for finding your question so late.
      I think you have already solved your problem but if not – I suggest the following things.
      Regarding premium service – yes, you will not wait three weeks but receive your vignette earlier.
      The amount of time will be a couple of days, and it will depend on the load of the local Embassy.
      Regarding the “stamp” (I think it meant vignette) – the procedure is the following. You will go to the local UK Embassy with a package of documents and will apply for a visa on the same day. Then your package will be collected and brought to the local UK Embassy with authority to issue the visas. It may be on the same day or the next day, but you will get your visa shortly.
      The main point in this whole story – premium service. If you pay for it, the UK Embassy representatives will do their best to make it fast.

      Andrii Seleznov

  10. Hi Andrii,
    i want to know if i stand a chance of getting endorsed for the Tier 1 Exceptional talent visa(promise). i am a graduate of mechanical engineering and currently work as a production manager at a bakery with 3 years+ experience in maintenance and repairs of bakery machines and equipment.

    1. Hi Chris,
      Thanks a lot for your comment and question.
      I do not see a digital element in your work. Hence, it is quite challenging to understand the possible positive outcome of your job as a recipient of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa for the tech ecosystem. As I know, you work with mechanical engineering on an everyday basis and not doing the digital side of the business. That is why the essential way for you is Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa in Engineering, but you must have a PhD level of education to apply for it.
      If I am wrong in any of my words – write to me here, and I will be glad to continue our talk.

      Andrii Seleznov

  11. Hi there

    I have been in IT business delivery for 10+ years, and previously worked in the uk for 2 years. I am one of the founders of an IT company and studying towards an IT degree.
    I want to apply for the tier 1 exceptional promise via the tech business route.

    Do you think I would qualify and do you know of any good UK immigration companies that can assist?


    1. Hi Candice,
      Thank you so much for your question. Yes, I can make you an introduction to one of the immigration companies, which constantly works with Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa applicants (including Exceptional Promise via Business Route as you have).
      Check your email shortly.

      Andrii Seleznov

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