Tier 1 Visa


Tier 1 Exceptional Talent is a visa route for leaders and emerging leaders in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology and the arts.

This visa route is split into two categories:

  • Exceptional Talent: for those who are already proven leaders in their field of expertise
  • Exceptional Promise: for early-career individuals who have demonstrated potential to become leaders in their field of expertise

Many individuals who require a visa to work at Oxford come to the University on a Tier 2 visa. In comparison to that, another type of work visa, Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, has a number of benefits:

  • Greater flexibility on hours of work, place of work, salary, leave and engagement with other organisations. Tier 2 visa holders are restricted to working in their specific role, location etc. and are prohibited from taking more than four weeks unpaid leave in any calendar year. There are no such restrictions on a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa. 
  • More scope for visa extensions. A Tier 2 visa may be extended to a maximum of six years. There are currently no restrictions on extending a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa. 
  • More cost effective. Applicants can make significant savings when applying for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa (including IHS fees) compared to a Tier 2 visa of the same duration, particularly where the individual has dependants.

Tier 1 of the points-based system is intended for 'high value' applicants. These visas are not job-specific (i.e. the holder is generally allowed to take up any post). Therefore, those applying for any type of Tier 1 visa do not require sponsorship from the University.

The Staff Immigration Team can provide advice on and assistance with Tier 1 Exceptional Talent/ Exceptional Promise applications. This is the typical visa route for jobs such as Statutory Professor, Associate Professor, or senior research roles.

Applications under other Tier 1 routes are made by the applicant themselves. The Staff Immigration Team would be happy to assist with advice on straightforward enquiries and signpost to the relevant guidance, where possible. Full guidance about the Tier 1 visa routes can be found on the Home Office website.

Obtaining a Tier 1 Exceptional talent/promise visa is a two-stage process.

Stage 1

Applying to the Home Office for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in your particular field. The application is forwarded to a designated competent body to be processed. This process can take between 15-25 working days depending on whether the endorsement application is accelerated or standard.

Stage 2

Once endorsement is obtained, the Tier 1 visa application can be submitted to the Home Office. Individuals holding a Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 (Sponsored Researcher) visa can apply to switch in the UK.

For more information about this, please see the Tier 1 Endorsement and visa application information pages.

Below is a table of other types of Tier 1 visas. The Staff Immigration Team can provide advice on these, but are unable to submit visa applications on behalf of University employees.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) For those who want to set up or run a business in the UK (other employment prohibited) 
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) For graduates endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea. Information about obtaining an endorsement from Oxford is available from the Careers Service
Tier 1 (Investor)  For those who want to invest in the UK


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