How do I get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa and move to London?

This is my story about how I got UK Exceptional Talent Visa and moved to live and work in London

How did I get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa and moved to London?

Every day the topic how do I get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa and move to London becomes hotter. Particularly, for non-EU citizens from developing countries. I get tons of questions on each aspect of this long, but interesting process. This is a reason why I decided to write about this life-changing experience in details. I hope it will help you with your Global Talent Visa application too.

Brief About Me and UK Exceptional Talent

I am Andrii Seleznov and now I am a recipient of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa (Exceptional Promise). However, almost four years ago I was one in a million people who wanted to get this priceless visa in my passport.

Originally, I am from Ukraine, a developing country in Eastern Europe. I have a technical background. And at the moment of my application, I had worked in digital technologies for 8+ years.

Andrii Seleznov at the Lviv Startup Garden Conference in 2016. This photo was captured when I planned to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa and move to London
This is one of my talks as a technical co-founder of agritech startup Petiole at the Lviv Startup Garden Conference in 2016. This photo was captured when I planned to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa and move to London

Firstly, I’ve heard about Tier 1 Exceptional in January 2016. Almost exactly after a launch of this immigration program. However, knowing the strict rules of the UK laws I was not too optimistic about the chances to get this early version of Global Talent Visa.

At the same time, I understood that I need to check everything. Just in case. And to have a reason either give up completely or have a new goal to reach. This is exactly the point where my story has started. Honestly, I recommend you to do the same and not avoid a step.

Home Office guidelines on Global Talent Visa

The only trusted official resource with information about Global Talent Visa (Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa) is Home Office. That’s why I checked its website and found a separate chapter about this visa route.

The Home Office UK Visas and Immigration Office at Lunar House in Croydon. Home Office issued a guideline for Global Talent Visa (Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa). Photo Credit: Alamy, the Guardian
The Home Office UK Visas and Immigration Office at Lunar House in Croydon. Photo Credit: Alamy, the Guardian

Home Office gives quite a good clue about this visa route. I read each of the seven parts, namely:

  1. Overview – a general brief about Global Talent Visa
  2. Eligibility – main criteria for recipients
  3. Documents you must provide – a general overview of documents that you need to provide
  4. Apply – this is actually the starting point of an application when you are ready
  5. Switch to this visa – this is a part for people who are already in the UK but on other visas like Tier 1, Tier 2 as well as Tier 5
  6. Extend your visa – the part tells about the extension of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas
  7. Family members – basic information about visas for your partner and child who may come to the UK with you

After reading this stuff I became very smart :). But then I understood that if you want to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, you do not need to read all of them.

What official UK Exceptional Talent guidance do you need to read?

For the first time Global Talent Visa applicants, who live outside the UK, it is crucial to read four chapters. Particularly, Overview, Eligibility, Documents you must provide and Apply. If you are married and have kids – read an article about Family members too.

If you are already in the UK but have a different visa (than Global Talent Visa), you have to read Switch to this visa. However, this option is not allowed for all visa types. For example, students with Tier 4 visas are not on the list.

Finally, for happy recipients of Global Talent Visa, there is a part Extend your visa. But I will not pay attention to this stuff at all. We can speak about them on our monthly meetups.

The last important thing: it does not matter what is your current status, but you need to read this. In other words, this is a Bible to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa (Global Talent Visa). These 27 pages contain the main information for each applicant. Quite long and bureaucratic but, please, keep calm and read.

How I Applied for the UK Exceptional Talent Visa

My journey through this process I put into the article about 32 steps to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.

But since I clearly remember my feelings on each step, it is useful to get reflections on them. Perhaps, it will be useful for you too.

Am I eligible or not?

This question was not a big question for me. I thought: “Well, they need talents in the digital field. I have my experience of a full-time job as a software developer. Plus I have an award-winning startup. I participate in all agriculture technologies hackathons in my country. Why not try?” And I was right.

This is a very important point to be eligible for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. To have only a job in digital technologies is not enough. You must have something extra. Something scalable and valuable for society.

Do I need to have PhD for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent?

I decided to check do I need to have a PhD for Global Talent Visa. I don’t have any science degree. My highest level of education is Master’s (with Honours). However, I have a couple of scientific contributions. That’s why this question was crucial for me.

After a quick research this is what I have found:

Require PhDDoes Not Require PhD
Global Talent visa in science and medicineTech Nation Visa (Global Talent Visa in Digital Technology)
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa in EngineeringGlobal Talent Visa in arts and culture
Global Talent visa in humanitiesTier 1 Exceptional Talent visa in Architecture
Global Talent Visa in Fashion
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa or Film and Television
Comparison of different visa types within Global Talent Visa (Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa)

Talent or Promise?

Officially, you can be either an exceptional talent (recognised leader or an exceptional promise (emerging leader) or get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa under the UK Research and Innovation endorsed funder option.

Again, for me, this was not a question. I compared two options. Also, I tried to feel: am I a good fit for Talent or Promise?

Then I understood that my highest peaks are still ahead. For example, I am still not on the Forbes list of billionaires :).

Hence, I decided to apply for Exceptional Promise.

Who will Endorse me for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent?

The list of well-known and famous authorities, which are designated bodies, is quite long. In each of these bodies you will have a panel of experts, who will assess you and your value for the UK:

  • The Royal Society, for science and medicine
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering
  • The British Academy, for humanities
  • Tech Nation, for digital technology
  • Arts Council England, for arts and culture
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), for research applicants
  • British Fashion Council, for fashion
  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), for architecture
  • Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), for film and television

Hence, I found that Tech Nation endorses applicants for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa in Digital Technologies. After that, I made a research on the specifics of digital technologies to make my profile stronger. In other words, I tried to understand: what Tech Nation would like to see in a candidate?

Tech Nation Visa Guide

For the digital industry, Tech Nation is a designed body, responsible for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Route. Hence, I went to their website to get more details as well.

Tech Nation is the central body of Global Talent Visa scheme for digital technologies. This is a photo from a recent event, organised by the Tech Nation. Photo credit: Tech Nation

In fact, the visa in digital technologies is called Tech Nation Visa. In other words, this is the same as Global Talent Visa in Digital Technologies. As well as Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa in Digital Technologies.

To begin with your Tech Nation Visa, you need to read six most important parts:

  1. Overview, which tells about the Tech Nation Visa Guideline and refers to the basic FAQ;
  2. The Application Process, explains Stage 1 and Stage 2 of visa application;
  3. Typical Applicants is about the separation between technical skills and business skills;
  4. Eligibility Criteria shows the main difference between Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise;
  5. Fast Track explains cases when the Global Talent Visa application will be considered in a shorter period of time;
  6. Documents & Evidence provide more details about the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa checklist, Key Criteria and Qualifying Criteria. Also, it has examples of documents.

There is a paragraph about lawyers, who work with this applications and some technical details. However, personally, I did not find it very useful.

Structure of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa (Tech Nation Visa) application

I found that the Global Talent Visa (Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa) application has a very clear structure. Its hierarchy I put into the picture. With this picture, it is easier to visualise what exactly you need and the links.

This is the hierarchy of Global Talent Visa. This drawing is a visual presentation of the documents you need to apply to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.

In general, the top of your iceberg is a Personal Statement. This is not a separate document. It is included in the online application for Tech Nation. Your Personal Statement is based on your CV or Resume. It shows who you are and what experience you have.

Then you must have three Letters of Recommendation. You can get them after analysing your CV and finding the right people to give you this reference. Finally, you have to apply 10 supporting documents.

They must be a foundation for your Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application.

After finding this clue, I decided to pay attention to each of these four parts. I checked an online visa application but saw that it does not have any difficult moments. Just Personal Statement.

Personal Statement to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

In general, this is your written monologue about the past and future. In 7,000 characters you must write about your achievements and future goals.

Personal Statement is a cornerstone of your visa application. It helps to feel you, your thoughts and level of expertise. This part explains your value for the United Kingdom and must be perfect!

I don’t want to copy-paste my other articles on this topic. I have tons of them. But what I can recommend you is this and this.

The most important idea of Personal Statement is that you do not need to repeat your CV. Or put quotes from Letter of Recommendation. Instead, you must think about you, as TechNation Visa recipient. Hence, you need to write from the “if” point of view.

Also, for me, it was a challenge to find someone for proofreading. But you are luckier, you have me :). Your chances to write a good Personal Statement are higher if an expert will proofread it. Then you will get feedback on your Personal Statement.

Finally, about the Personal Statement sample. Once again – you cannot find them in the public domain for free. Documents with good quality are too personal to share.

Your CV / Resume to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

In short, you must attach your latest Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume to your Global Talent Visa application. Sometimes it is confusing to understand what exactly you need to attach as your own document. Read this post with clarification.

There is a clear option for your CV. Or resume. It must be a maximum length of 3 single sides of A4 paper. Hence, you must follow this rule.

Surely, feel free to apply the same criteria to your referee’s bio. It will bring unity of style into your package of documents.

Three Letters of Recommendation FOR TechNation visa

You must have three recommendation letters for visa application. Surely, you cannot have two of them as it was before. Then you are not allowed to show four or more too. Excessive Letters of Recommendation you need to attach as supporting documents.

Again I put my knowledge into long-reads about Letters of Recommendation. Read this article as guidance to get a recommendation letter for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. Actually, this post is a pure reflection of my own way how did I get a Letter of Recommendation.

I want to tell you briefly about the length of this process. It was truly long for me to find the right people. But, when I contacted them and got a positive reply, then it was fast. As a result, I spent nine months to find my referees. But two weeks to get recommendation letters for my Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.

In conclusion, I must say there is confusion. Some people ask me about a reference letter for visa application but it is too wide. Reference Letter for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa can be a Letter of Recommendation. But also, it can be a Letter of Support – one of the supporting documents. Don’t mix them up, please. And read the details of supporting documents below.

Ten supporting documents to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa

You must apply up to 10 supporting documents for your visa application. Generally, I wrote this post to make things easy. Read it and if you will have your specific questions – write to me.

I think that as a rule, each applicant chooses own package from 12 types of supporting documents. They are different for business and tech routes. But using provided examples think about your own life and achievements.

I must say one more thing. You do not need to have all 10 documents. Just do not try to attach as many as you can. It may harm your visa application! Try to choose the documents with the highest value. With the brightest goals reached. With the most impressive achievements.

Also, do not forget to add any extra letters of recommendation as your supporting docs. They will automatically become letters of support. Then think about people, who may help you and give a letter of support.

How to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa quickly?

Unfortunately, it is impossible. You cannot get Global Talent Visa quickly in days. In weeks, a month or two – yes. But only if the time will be the right one. And if your visa application will be better than perfect. Plus you must pay an additional fee for the speed up.

That’s why, generally, you need to expect to have quite a long period of your life, busy with this preparation for this visa. In my case, it took ten months from the first day when I googled “how to get Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa” and till the day, when I got a vignette. If count from the first thought about TechNation Visa till my arrival to London – then it took 11 months.

To sum up, I do not want to make you scared of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa as well as preparation for it. In fact, I don’t want to show you that it is an easy thing either. But now you will have more clues and insights.

Honestly, I dream to have the same hub of information in past 2016, when I applied :). Good luck with your visa. Let me know if you need free help.

Talent Visa Help has been created for informational purpose and is not an official guidance for Global Talent Visa (Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa) application.

Talent Visa Help should not be used as a substitute for the official Tech Nation Guideline or Home Office Guideline. Talent Visa Help is NOT linked either with Tech Nation or Home Office. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the texts belong solely to the authors at Talent Visa Help. The contents of Talent Visa Help do not constitute legal advice and authors accept no liability for the accuracy of information provided. Applicants should always consult the official governmental guidance and seek professional immigration advice where appropriate.

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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

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