Tier 1 Global Talent visa route

If you're a researcher from outside the UK, you can apply to come to – or remain in – the UK via the Tier 1 visa route.

Who can apply for a Tier 1 visa? 

There are two ways you can apply for a Tier 1 visa. How you apply depends on whether you will be a member of staff employed on the grant, or if you will hold the award.

What are the benefits of a Tier 1 visa? 

A Tier 1 Global Talent visa offers you more flexibility than other UK immigration routes. You:

  • can move freely between organisations, locations and job/roles without having to tell the Home Office; with a Tier 2 visa you’re ‘tied’ to an employer/role and you often have to apply for a new visa if you change jobs
  • don't have to receive a minimum salary to be eligible
  • can apply for settlement once you’ve been in the UK for three years; if you spend time outside the UK for research purposes, you won't be penalised.

You may also be able to switch to a Tier 1 visa if you’re already in the UK on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa.

Endorsed funder route 

Wellcome is a recognised endorsed funder(opens in a new tab).

If you're applying for a Tier 1 visa via this route, you will need to have:

  • at least two years remaining on your employment contract, and
  • spend at least 50% of your working time contributing to the award.

Temporary concession for researchers working on Covid-19 grants

From 1 July 2020 to 31 July 2021 (extended from 31 January 2021), academics and researchers wishing to work on Covid-19 related grants can apply for a Global Talent Visa under relaxed criteria.

The changed criteria are:

  • Research grants must have been awarded for at least 12 months or more (not 2 years or more)
  • Researchers must have an employment contract or hosting agreement for 12 months or more (not 2 years or more)
  • Applicants who are already in the UK can switch into this route from any other visa category.

The application process remains unchanged. See the UKRI website(opens in a new tab) for more information.

How to apply

The endorsed funder route is administered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)(opens in a new tab). You should contact UKRI for more information on the application criteria and how to apply.

Individual fellowships and personal awards route 

If you're applying for a Tier 1 visa via this route, you should be an exceptionally talented or promising individual in the field of science, engineering, humanities and social sciences or the arts.

You must be able to demonstrate that you're:

  • a recognised leader in your field (Exceptional Talent)


  • an emerging leader in your field (Exceptional Promise).

If you hold one of the awards listed below, you're guaranteed an endorsement of your Tier 1 application (see the 'Stage 1: Endorsement' section below).

If you hold a Wellcome award that is not on this list, you can still apply for a Tier 1 visa, but your endorsement is not guaranteed.

How to apply

There is a two-stage application process.

Stage 1: Endorsement

You need to apply for endorsement via the Home Office(opens in a new tab).

Your application will be considered by one of the five recognised Designated Competent Bodies, who will decide if you have the skills, abilities and achievements to be endorsed. You can find out more about the Tier 1 visa on their websites.

The five bodies are:

Stage 2: Immigration application

Once you’ve been endorsed, you can apply to the Home Office for your visa. You must apply for the visa within three months of being endorsed.

Contact us 

Contact our information officers if you have a question about funding.

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