New details released on Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa

The UK has released more information concerning the new 'Exceptional Talent' visa which will replace Tier 1 (General) of Britain's points based immigration system. The visa will be capped at 1,000 per year and is aimed at a very small number of top highly skilled immigrants. After 5 April 2011 it will be very difficult to gain entry to the UK as an independent skilled immigrant.

The visa will not require a job offer from a UK employer but will need to be endorsed by an "accredited competent body". The UK will announce what an accredited competent body is in the near future.

"It will be for each competent body to select those who will qualify for endorsement," the UK Border Agency said in a statement.

The visa would allow a highly skilled immigrant to live and work in the UK for an initial period of 3 years and 4 months. An Exceptional Talent visa holder would be able to extend his or her stay in the UK for an additional period of two years, and settle in the UK after five years' residence within Britain.

"Our new exceptional talent route will ensure that we continue to allow the brightest and the best who can make a valued contribution into the UK," Immigration Minister Damien Green said.

The changes will take effect on 6 April 2011. For people wishing to switch into a highly skilled migrant visa from within the UK, the time to apply is now. From 6 April 2011 the Tier 1 (General) visa will in effect end and be replaced by the exceptional talent visa that hardly anyone will qualify for.