The United Kingdom’s Global Talent visa gives exceptional leaders in art, academia, and digital technology the opportunity to work in the U.K. with a high degree of flexibility and many unique perks.
Successful applicants enjoy the ability to freely switch between jobs, be employed or self-employed, join a fast track to naturalization, and many other benefits.
At the same time, global employers that hire talent under this visa don't need to sponsor the applicant or pay the associated visa fees as they must do with the Skilled Worker visa.
Read this guide to discover who is eligible for the Global Talent visa, how it benefits talent and employers, and what the application process entails.
Plus, find out how this visa simplifies immigration procedures for employers interested in relocating foreign talent or hiring skilled foreign nationals residing in the U.K.
Who Is Eligible for the U.K. Global Talent Visa?
The U.K. Global Talent visa is open to individuals 18 years or older who can prove they have either “exceptional talent” or “exceptional promise” in one of the following fields: academia or research, arts and culture, or digital technology.
Below we outline the eligibility requirements for applicants from each field of work.
Leaders in Academia or Research
Industry leaders in science, medicine, engineering, and the humanities are eligible to apply for the Global Talent visa through one of four eligibility routes:
- The applicant has a job offer as a senior academic or researcher in any higher education institution or eligible research institute in the U.K.
- The applicant has an individual-approved fellowship in the U.K.
- The applicant is part of a research grant approved by the U.K. Research and Innovation (UKRI).
- The applicant receives endorsement via peer review with a reference from an eminent person in their field who has internationally recognized expertise.
Leaders in Arts and Culture
Individuals from art, dance, music, theatre, literature, and visual arts may qualify for the Global Talent visa if they have a track record in creating professional work of exceptional quality and performing, presenting, distributing, or exhibiting that work abroad.
For example, individuals applying via the leadership route must have regularly worked in their sector for the past five years while producing internationally recognized work.
Candidates applying on the basis of exceptional potential must prove that their work has a growing track record in one or more countries.
Leaders in Digital Technology
Industry leaders in the digital technology space are eligible to apply for the Global Talent visa if they satisfy one of the following two criteria:
- They must have relevant technical skills and the ability to develop proficiency in creating technological infrastructure and constructing or exploiting technology stacks.
- If they are a business leader, they must prove their competence in creating digital products through investment or commercial initiatives or in managing investments in large digital product enterprises.
How to Obtain a U.K. Global Talent Visa
To apply for a U.K. Global Talent visa, eligible candidates must apply for endorsement, request entry clearance (if the applicant resides outside of the U.K.), collect necessary supporting documents, and lodge their visa application online. The entire process takes up to 12 weeks.
Below, we outline each of these steps in detail.
1. Apply for Endorsement
The first step in applying for the U.K. Global Talent visa is to apply for endorsement from a relevant endorsing body.
Endorsing bodies and approval procedures vary depending on the applicant’s background and field of work. For example, applicants from the Arts and Culture sector apply for endorsement from Arts Council England.
However, candidates from the Academia or Research category apply for endorsement from different bodies based on the applicant’s eligibility route.
Below is a list of the six bodies and the fields for which they provide endorsements:
- U.K. Research and Innovation (UKRI): Endorsements for applicants with approved research grants in multiple fields
- Royal Society: Natural and Medical Sciences
- The British Academy: Humanities and Social Sciences
- The Royal Academy of Engineering: Engineering
- Tech Nation: Digital Technology
- Arts Council England: Arts and Culture
Candidates who hold a “Prestigious Prize,” such as a Tony Award, BAFTA, or the like, enjoy a fast-tracked application process. They are exempt from securing endorsement and can proceed to the visa application step.
However, most applicants must apply for endorsement, which is a lengthy process that requires special attention from applicants and employers.
At this stage, many employers turn to a third-party expert, such as an employer of record (EOR), to confirm talents’ eligibility and avoid unnecessary setbacks or refusal.
2. Apply for Entry Clearance
If an individual resides outside the U.K., they must apply for entry clearance before arriving.
To apply for entry clearance, applicants must complete an online application form available on the U.K. Visa and Immigration (UKVI) website. After completing the application form, candidates must book an appointment at their nearest visa application center.
3. Gather the Required Documents
The list of required documents varies depending on the applicant’s field of work. However, the general requirements for all candidates include an endorsement letter, a current passport or other valid travel documentation, and the results of a tuberculosis test, if necessary, depending on the applicant’s country of residence.
4. Apply for the Visa Online
To apply for the Global Talent visa, candidates must submit an application through the Home Office’s online portal.
At this stage, all applicants must also prove their identity. Depending on the individual’s home country, they can do so via the U.K. Immigration: ID Check app or in person at the nearest visa application center, which may be in another country.
Candidates see which option is available to them when they apply.
How the U.K. Global Talent Visa Benefits Approved Applicants
The U.K. Global Talent visa offers applicants numerous benefits. The primary advantage of holding this visa is its exceptional flexibility regarding employment options, visa duration, and renewals.
Below we list all of the benefits that Global Talent visa holders can enjoy:
- Mobility. Once employed in the U.K., all approved applicants can move between organizations, positions, and locations within their field of work without having to notify the Home Office, unlike with the Skilled Worker visa.
- Flexibility. Successful applicants can work as employees, be self-employed, or even become company directors.
- No minimum salary. Because there is no minimum salary for eligibility, the Global Talent visa is available to applicants from various fields of work.
- Ability to apply from inside the U.K. Foreign nationals residing in the U.K. on another work arrangement can switch from their current U.K. visa category to the Global Talent visa.
- Unlimited time outside the U.K. for work-related duties. Individuals who receive endorsement from select bodies can perform work outside the U.K. as part of their job duties without penalty.
- Unlimited renewals. Visa holders can renew their visa an unlimited number of times.
- Fast-tracked immigration. No matter the route, all visa holders become eligible for indefinite leave within three to five years, fast-tracking them for naturalization as U.K. citizens.
- No English language requirement. Unlike the Skilled Worker visa, applicants for the Global Talent visa needn’t pass an English language proficiency test.
How the U.K. Global Talent Visa Benefits Employers
The Global Talent visa also benefits employers in a variety of ways.
The primary benefit to the hiring company is that they don't need to sponsor applicants or pay the associated application costs, such as the Immigration Skills Charge. However, many employers offer fee support to attract and retain top talent.
Because foreign nationals residing in the U.K. on different visa arrangements can switch to the Global Talent visa from within the country, employers also enjoy the option of hiring talent already residing in the U.K.
U.K. Global Talent Visa FAQs
Below we answer several commonly asked questions about the U.K.’s Global Talent visa.
How Much Does a U.K. Global Talent Visa Cost?
The fee for the Global Talent visa application is US$774 (£623), which applicants pay in two parts: US$566 (£456) when applying for endorsement and US$207 (£167) when submitting their application.
Individuals who apply based on a “Prestigious Prize” pay the full US$774 (£623) when submitting their visa application.
Additionally, each candidate must pay an annual healthcare surcharge of US$776 (£624) as a part of their application, plus any associated visa center fees for acquiring entry clearance.
All dependents applying with the applicant, such as a partner or children, must pay an additional fee of US$744 (£623) each.
What Is the Processing Time for a U.K. Global Talent Visa?
The entire application process for the U.K.’s Global Talent visa can take up to 12 weeks. This timeframe includes one month for obtaining the endorsement plus additional time to collect the required documents, prove the applicant’s identity, lodge the online application, and wait three weeks for a decision from the Home Office.
How Long Is a U.K. Global Talent Visa Valid?
The U.K.’s Global Talent visa is valid for five years, with unlimited renewals lasting from one to five years per extension, depending on the applicant’s preferences.
Additionally, within three to five years, all Global Talent visa holders become eligible for indefinite leave in the U.K., fast-tracking them to naturalize as British citizens if they so choose.
Simplify U.K. Visa and Relocation Needs With Velocity Global
While the Global Talent visa simplifies talent relocation and acquisition in the U.K., HR teams often struggle to keep up with evolving visa regulations and ensure their candidates qualify for endorsement. Eliminate the headache by partnering with Velocity Global.
Our integrated Global Immigration solution simplifies visa acquisition and relocation to the U.K. and beyond. Lean on our expert team to handle all of your document collection, translation, and administration needs while confirming endorsement eligibility for new hires.
We also ensure compliance with ever-evolving immigration laws, so you can focus on sourcing top talent and growing your team with peace of mind.
As part of our Global Employer of Record (EOR) solution, we also handle everything from hiring and onboarding to global payroll, benefits administration, and ongoing HR support so you can expand into the U.K. and beyond without the added burden.
Contact Velocity Global today to learn how to simplify talent relocation to the U.K and build international teams with ease.