August 11, 2011

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) released its announcement confirming applications for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Category (Tier 1-ET) are being accepted as of August 9, 2011.  Non-European Economic Area and non-Swiss nationals (non-EEA/Swiss nationals) who are “internationally-recognized as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts” are permitted to submit Tier 1-ET applications to the appropriate UK consular post without having pre-arranged employment or sponsorship by a UK company sponsor.

General Qualification for Tier 1-ET Status

All initial applications must be filed as an entry clearance application with the UK consular post in the applicant’s country of nationality or country of legal residence.  (The UKBA will not accept initial Tier 1-ET applications filed from within the UK.)  Most importantly, all Tier 1-ET entry clearance applications must be submitted with an endorsement from a UK “Designated Competent Body” (DCB).

Prior to filing an entry clearance application with a consular post, applicants must request a Tier 1-EC “Unique Reference Number” (URN) from the UKBA.  When requesting an URN, an applicant must research which DCB is qualified to issue a positive endorsement after evaluating the applicant’s academic/professional qualifications and international stature within the applicant’s field of study or industry.  The UKBA will consult with the designated DCB to confirm the applicant meets the UKBA’s standards of “exceptional talent”.   Applicants are reminded that assessment by both the competent body and the UKBA will require verifiable proof of academic degrees, letters of reference from academic bodies or employers and published proof of articles, white papers, awards, etc.

Tier 1-ET applicants must score a total of 75 points in Attributes (75 points total for positive endorsement by the DCB) for an initial entry clearance application.  The extension of status will require that an applicant score a total of 85 points: 75 Attribute points for DCB endorsement + 10 “Control” points for English language assessment.

Between August 9, 2011-April 5, 2012, the UKBA will allocate the number of Tier 1-ET applications to a total of 1,000 applications. The endorsements will be assigned to the designated competent bodies in two phases: 500 endorsement will be available from August 9-November 30 and the second 500 from December 1-April 5, 2012. The total will be divided between the designated competent bodies as follows:

Designated competent body Total endorsements Until 30 November 2011 From 1 December 2011 to 5 April 2012
Royal Society 300 150 150
Arts Council England 300 150 150
British Academy 200 100 100
Royal Academy of Engineering 200 100 100

The UKBA will undertake a further review of allocations and qualifications for the Tier 1-ET by early to mid-2012 and will announce the next year’s allotments and any changes to this category.

Initial status can be granted for up to three years and four months. Extension of status can be granted for an additional two years.

Tier 1-ET holders can remain in the UK provided the DCB continues to provide its positive endorsement of stay.  After five years of unbroken stay in the UK in valid Tier 1-ET status, application can be made for UK permanent residence (Indefinite Leave to Remain or “ILR”) provided the applicant can prove (1) he or she or she is still economically active in his or her field of expertise and (2) the DCB is not opposed to the ILR application.

Client Advisory 

As noted above, initial applications for Tier 1-ET status must be made from outside the UK.  As this type of application is based on exceptional, personal merit, assignees considering this type of application must be fully informed of which DCB is the appropriate body to evaluate the assignee’s credentials.  Clients with assignees considering this status for long-term or permanent relocation to the UK should consult with their Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration specialist to carefully review all of the UKBA’s requirements and application protocols, and ensure that the assignee can provide valid verification of his or her achievements/credentials.  Clients are also advised that as the UKBA is phasing the number of URN allocations,  if an URN is requested after an allocation has been reached for the stated DCB, the UKBA will hold the application in a queue until the next allotment opens.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.