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Subject matter experts can get fast tracked into the UK

Subject matter expert

Subject matter expert in your field? There’s a new fast-track UK visa route. Scrapping the earlier Tier1 (Exceptional Talent) route, the government invites promising individuals to work in the country. They should be leaders, or have the potential to be leaders, in their fields. Winning prestigious awards like the International Mathematical Olympiad for instance, means you get a leg-up.

Bespoke talent route

Introduced earlier this year, the route aims to attract qualified professionals in these fields:

  • academia or research (science, medicine, engineering or humanities)
  • arts and culture (combined arts, architecture, fashion design, film & television)
  • digital technology (fin-tech, gaming, cyber security, artificial intelligence)

Get endorsed first

It’s a two-step process to apply for a visa under this category. Firstly, you need to be endorsed to prove your claim of excellence. Seek your endorsement from one of these six government-appointed bodies: British AcademyRoyal Academy of EngineeringRoyal Society, or UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

For non-academic fields in arts, culture and digital technology, you approach Arts Council England or Tech Nation. For more on endorsement, visit here.

The endorsing bodies assesses your skills and abilities. Find the endorsing body suitable to your field. There is a full list of disciplines covered by the endorsing bodies. If you do not find your discipline, alternate immigration routes are possible.

The second step is an immigration application to the Home Office.

Criteria for endorsement

So how do you know if you’re eligible for endorsement? Where do you apply? Depending on your discipline, each endorsing body issues guidelines. For digitech applicants, technical and business skills will be considered by Tech Nation. They also offer a fast-track option. Being accepted into a recognized accelerator programme like Antlers, Barclays Accelerator or Collider among others, offers a speedy endorsement from Tech Nation. If you are a founder of a start-up, have contributed significantly to your field with community teaching, or participated in open source projects, your chances are higher.

Importantly, international researchers working on COVID-related research, enjoy a temporary concession to the rules.


Family members or dependents must apply so they can stay with you in the UK if they are from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. The partner of a Global Talent applicant is eligible for a five year stay. Dependent children can also apply for settlement.

What’s in it for me

  • A visa under the global talent scheme means you can work in the UK for up to five years
  • You don’t need a sponsor
  • You don’t need to take language tests
  • There’s no minimum salary threshold (these conditions apply under other categories)
  • You’re welcome to change jobs
  • You can set up your own shop or work as a consultant
  • You can renew your visa multiple times, or not
  • There’s a fast track option towards settlement after three years for the main applicant.

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