Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas for non-EU artists to work in the UK

Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) visas are for people who are internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts, and who wish to work in the UK. The number of applications that can be made under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) has been limited by the UK Government, to 1,000 endorsements allowed between 9th August 2011 and 5th April 2012.  Of these, 300 are reserved for artists, and creative people working in film and television, who have a proven high level international reputation

The Arts Council was recently appointed by the UK’s Home Office as the Designated Competent Body by the UK’s Home Office, and is therefore able to assess applications from artists for Tier 1 visas and recommend whether an applicant merits a visa. 

To qualify for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas: arts applicants must demonstrate that they are exceptionally talented in their field - either as an established, world class artist or an internationally recognised expert.  Applicants will be asked to fill out a standard Tier 1 visa form and to submit evidence of exceptional talent to support their application.  Up to 10 documents covering at least two of the following types of evidence should be submitted: significant media recognition; international awards for excellence; and proof of appearances or exhibitions in recognised international contexts.  In addition, applicants must provide two letters of endorsement from established arts or cultural organisations (one of which must be based in the UK).

Assessment process:

- All applications will be assessed by artform and other sector specialists within the Arts Council who will review all documents submitted and judge the extent to which they provide clear evidence that the application meets the published criteria.

- Following the assessment, the Arts Council will advise the UK Border Agency on whether an applicant can be defined as possessing exceptional talent. The UK Border Agency will then decide whether or not to grant entry to an applicant.

- Applications from the film, television, animation, post production and visual effects sectors will be assessed by the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) in accordance with the process and guidance set out by the Arts Council.

Duration of stay in UK

Artists granted permission to enter the UK under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) can stay for 3 years and 4 months.  If they successfully apply to extend their stay, they will be able to stay for another 2 years.

Note: alongside Tier 1 visas, artists can also continue to apply for Tier 2 and Tier 5. 


Visit the Arts Council’s website for the full criteria and FAQs

You can also obtain further information from the UK’s Home Office website,  http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier1/exceptional-talent/