You can apply to switch from the Tier 2 ICT Visa to the Tier 1 Exceptional Visa if you are already in the UK. However, you can only apply when you have received your letter of endorsement. The rule of thumb is to ensure you apply for this switch before your visa expires and the beautiful thing about he Exceptional Talent Visa is that you will be able to choose how long you want to apply for, up to a maximum of 5 years.
The Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer Visa (ICT) allows a candidate to transfer to the UK from an overseas branch of a UK company with the sole aim of undertaking work on a specific project. This Visa requires that you get sponsored by a company in the UK while the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa allows skilled professionals in fields such as science, humanities, engineering, the arts, fashion and digital technology to come work, create and live in the UK.
Differences between the Tier 2 ICT visa and Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa:
- Sponsorship; for the Tier 2 ICT visa, you can only get this Visa through a licenced sponsor (a UK company that holds a Certificate of Sponsorship [COS]) and they must be offering you a job position to fill which you will also have to show that you’ve worked for the company outside of the UK. On the other hand, the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa requires no sponsorship whatsoever, you will be get this Visa based on your personal achievements in your field. Although you might need to get letters of recommendations from companies or individuals who are familiar with your work or creations.
- Monetary Aspect; for the Tier 2 ICT Visa, you must have £945 in your bank account for 90 days before you apply. This is to prove you can support yourself. Also, the job position you are applying to fill in the UK must pay up to or more than £23,000 for Graduate Trainee or £41,500 for Long-term Staff. On the other hand, for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, you are not required to show anything money related. I repeat, you have to show ZERO money in your bank account or anywhere whatsoever.
- Length of Stay; If you are on the short-term stay ICT Visa, the initial grant of leave is about 1 year, the long term grant of leave is up to 3 years. On the other hand, the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is up to 5 years and you can then apply for residency.
The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa clearly superceeds the Tier 2 ICT Visa, in my opinion because it has more freedom, requires no monetary proof and is based solely on YOU, what you’ve done or can show you’ve done and how your presence will be beneficial to the UK.
In order to switch from Tier 2 ICT Visa to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, these are the steps:
#1. Apply for Endorsement;
The endorsement stage is also called the Stage 1. You can be endorsed as either an “Exceptional Talent” or an “Exceptional Promise” in fields such as science, humanities, engineering, the arts, fashion and digital technology. “Exceptional Talent” means you are a recognized leader or can show evidence that you are a recognized leader in your field while “Exceptional Promise” means you are an emerging leader in your field (this is mostly for people with less than 10 years experience in their field, in my opinion).
The first thing to do is to decide which field you fall under and where your strength lies. Me for example, I got endorsed under the Digital Technology industry via Tech Naiton. If you are in the Tech industry, I have loads of blogposts that will be of help to you, you should read this first How I Got and How To Get A UK Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Visa Endorsement , it has a lot of information that will put you on the right track.
Also, be sure to check my Tier 1 Exceptional Talent blog category for more articles. The endorsement stage is very important and the most stressful part of the application because it requires document / evidence gathering, reaching out to past employers or clients for letters of recommendations and many other nitty gritty things you will get to know when you are in the process. Each field has “Competent Bodies” appointed by the UK Government to oversea the application and endorsement of candidates.
My best advice is to find and download the official PDF guide for your field and start mapping out your line of action. The recognised Designated Competent Bodies for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa are:
- Arts Council England – for arts, culture, fashion, film and television applications;
- The British Academy – for humanities and social science applications;
- The Royal Society – for natural sciences and medical science research applications;
- The Royal Academy of Engineering – for engineering applications; and
- Tech Nation – for digital technology applications.
So, get to know your competent body based on your field and get their official guidelines.
#2. Apply for Visa.
Yes, the next step is to apply for Visa a.k.a Stage 2. This is the more simpler part of the whole process. I always say this “this stage is so straight forward that my grand mother can do this”. At stage 2, you will only need to submit a copy of your endorsement letter that was emailed to you when your stage 1 application was approved coupled with your passport (and payment for Health Surcharge, depending on the amount of years you are applying for).
You should get your Visa decision under 8 weeks and because you are applying from the UK, am very sure you will get your decision much faster. In my opinion, the visa is always automatic because the endorsement letter carries A LOT of weight! A lot of things had to go into play for you to be endorsed as World Leading Exceptional Talent in your field. You can get up to 5 years leave to remain on this Visa and then apply for residency after 5 years (if endorsed as an “Exceptional Promise”) or in 3 years (if endorsed as an “Exceptional Talent”)
Switching from the Tier 2 ICT Visa to the Tier 2 Exceptional Talent Visa will give you a lot of freedom if granted. You will finally be able to get the freedom to start your own business, run your own startup, work on new ideas and do this without having to worry about an employer breathing down your neck.
The process doesn’t need to be too stressful, I have a lot of blogposts about the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa that will be of help to you, I also reply to the numerous emails and messages I get from people around the world looking to switch to this Visa. So, if you have any question or need anything clarified, be sure to drop a comment or shoot me an email and I will be happy to help where I can. All the best.
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