Spotlight On: The Global
Talent Visa

In February 2020, the UK government launched the Global Talent visa, a bespoke immigration route designed to attract the ‘best and brightest talent from around the world’. The route reformed and replaced the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, with the aim of improving the UK’s appeal to highly skilled individuals with specialist skills that will enrich the UK’s knowledge, economy and society.

In July 2020, the Home Office released further details outlining the UK’s new points-based immigration system, due to come into force on 1 January 2021. Under the new rules, the current Global Talent visa route will open to EU citizens on the same basis as non-EU citizens.

By offering this bespoke immigration route to both EU and non-EU citizens, the government hopes to attract the ‘leaders of tomorrow’ in key sectors such as science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology. To help facilitate this, the government has also announced it will set up the Office for Talent, a new cross-departmental unit which will work to cut unnecessary red tape and make it easier for international scientists, researchers and innovators to come to the UK to live and work.

The Global Talent visa at a glance

The Global Talent visa offers successful applicants a highly flexible permission which allows them to come to the UK for up to five years on a single application. Applicants can choose the length of their visa with a maximum of five years, and also have the option to renew multiple times.

Applicants do not need to have a confirmed job offer in order to apply, but must obtain an endorsement from a list of selected UK industry bodies that have been approved by the Home Office. Once in the UK, Global Talent visa holders are permitted to work for an employer or be self-employed, change jobs without informing the Home Office, travel abroad and return to the UK for research purposes, and bring dependents with them.

There will also be a fast-track Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) scheme available for top scientists and researchers, which will provide a quicker endorsement process for these highly skilled individuals. In order to qualify for the fast-track scheme, applicants must:

  • Have a named award or fellowship
  • Be in a senior academic position within an eligible Higher Education institution or research organisation
  • Be part of a publicly funded research team which is in receipt of prestigious funding or awards.

Who can apply for a Global Talent visa?

From January 2021, both EU and non-EU citizens will be able to apply for a Global Talent visa, providing they meet the eligibility criteria for this route. Applicants must be a leader or potential leader in an eligible field, including academia or research, arts and culture or digital technology.

Before applying for a Global Talent visa, applicants must be endorsed by a recognised UK body within their field who will verify their expertise. The organisations currently approved by the Home Office to provide endorsements are:

  • The Royal Society, for science and medicine;
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering;
  • The British Academy, for humanities;
  • UK Research and Innovation, for science and research;
  • Tech Nation, for digital technology;
  • Arts Council England, for arts and culture.

Applicants must also pass all relevant criminality and immigration checks, and pay the associated visa application fee plus the Immigration Health Surcharge.

What are the conditions and requirements?

The Global Talent visa route will have no cap, meaning there will be no limit on the number of eligible individuals who can use the route.

Unlike many other immigration routes, the Global Talent route has no English language or maintenance requirements, although applicants and their dependents will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge in order to access free healthcare in the UK, as there will be no access to public funds under this route.

Main applicants will be able to bring dependents with them to the UK, providing they pay the associated fees.

What does this mean for employers?

UK businesses also have the potential to benefit from the Global Talent route, as employers will not need to hold a valid Home Office sponsor licence to employ a migrant on a Global Talent visa.

Speak to an immigration expert

If you have questions regarding the Global Talent route or any other UK immigration routes, Smith Stone Walters is here to help.

We are committed to supporting businesses and individuals as they adapt to the changes that the UK’s new immigration system will bring. We will work with you from initial consultation to delivery, to ensure your visa application process is as stress-free as possible.

To speak to an advisor, please call us on 0208 461 6660, or email

Share story
Back to top of page