The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa allows skilled and “exceptionally talented” individuals in science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology, the arts and fashion to come live and work in the UK. The Visa is a very solid initiative from the UK Government to attract and retain people who will bring value to the UK’s economy. I have been lucky, opportuned and grateful to be endorsed under this prestigious Visa. My endorsement came just one day after my birthday on May 23 2017! I jumped for joy when I got the email because my previous application was unsucessful.
Since I moved to London on this Visa, I have made it my point of duty to create high level content like this one you are about to read that helps potential applicants for the tier 1 exceptional talent visa to get all the information and guidance they need in order to apply with confidence. The reason for me doing this is because when I was applying, I wish I had a resources like this from a successful applicant.
My videos and blogposts has helped 100s of potential applicants and I receive LinkedIn connections, messages, emails and comments on a daily basis from applicants and potential applicants either commending what I do or asking me questions concerning their application. With all that being said, here are:
Top 6 Confusing Questions, Answered By A Successful Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Alumni
#1. How Long Should The Personal Statement Be?
The personal statement is one, if not the most important part of the tier 1 exceptional talent visa application. I do not know if applicants in other fields have to submit a personal statement but applicants applying under the Digital Technology industry have t (i.e applying through Tech Nation). Tech Nation’s guide states that the personal statement should be maximum 7000 characters in length written by yourself to explain the contribution that you will make to the UK digital technology sector. Please pay attention to the fact that they said 7000 characters and not 7000 words. These are 2 different things. This can be confusing for people. I have had a lot of questions from people about this. I also got confused, in my first application, I thought they mean words and I was writing my ass off. I later read and discovered they meant 7k characters. So, when you are writing your personal statement, ensure to check the character count as you write along to ensure that your character count is between 7,000. You can check this easily from the word count settings of your document. Below is a screenshot from the personal statement I submitted and got endorsed with.
#2. What Do They Mean by 2 A4 Papers?
Another strict rule you want to follow is the “no more than two A4 sides in length” rule. This is also very important. Most people get it confused as to what 2 A4 Sides actually means. I also cracked my brain so hard during my application time trying to understand what it means. Before I explain what it means, let me tell you the mindset behind this rule and why it is important to adhere to.
There are thousands of applications submitted from all over the world and its a big task having to sort through them all, the 2 A4 paper rule is to ensure that people keep their documents and evidences in a concise manner. Not too long, not too short. Whatever you are trying to pass across should be able to fit into the front and back of an A4 paper, if it exceeds that, then it becomes a chore. When they say no more than two A4 sides in length, this is what you have to do;
- ensure that your document and evidence is printed on either 2 single sides of an A4 paper
- or; front and back of an A4 paper. (this makes it two sides)
To be clear once again, one document = 2 A4 sides. Sometimes, your evidence or document might be able to fill just one A4 side, what I did in my application was to use the other side for another evidence but I tried to make sure that the evidences (although different) where somehow related. I know this part can be confusing, please just read it again if you didn’t get it.
#3. Must The Evidence / Documents be ten (10)?
So, another rule is “applications should be accompanied by no more than ten supporting documents”. This then posses a question whether it is compulsory to submit 10 documents / evidences. The amount of documents or evidences to submit MUST not be 10, but it must not exceed 10! You can choose to submit only 5 if you think these 5 documents / evidences are strong enough to prove you are an exceptional talent / promise in your field.
The advise of course would be to maximize and take advantage of your documents, submit as much documents as you can to make up the 10 document count. You never know which of them will boost your application. Also, your documents are like condoms – its better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. I had to throw the condom analogy in there 🙂
#4. Exceptional Promise or Exceptional Talent?
The debate on which one to apply for is real. You can literally spend months debating with yourself if you are qualified to be endorsed as an exceptional talent or promise. I get loads of people asking me this question as well and I totally understand because I also struggled with it myself. Let me give you my personal experience with this.
So, in my first application, after reading through the Tech Nation guide, I felt very confident that I can be endorsed as an Exceptional Talent, so when I applied – I applied to be endorsed as an exceptional Talent but my application was denied. I failed. Did I fail because I am not deemed to be an exceptional talent but rather an exceptional promise? Maybe but No, in the remarks given by the Tech Nation examiners as to why my application was unsuccessful, they didn’t talk about that, instead they talked about my evidences not being strong enough to warrant me being an exceptional talent in my field. (I still wonder to myself if I would have been endorsed if I had opted in for exceptional promise; we will never know) So, in my second application. Now humbled and desperate to not taste failure again, I applied to be endorsed as an Exceptional Promise with stronger and much better evidences.
To my surprise, in my endorsement letter, I was endorsed as An Exceptional Talent, not Exceptional Promise that I opted to be endorsed as. So, what this tells me is that they see me as an exceptional talent and not an exceptional promise, and they used their digression to endorsed me as that. This is now very confusing because they explicitly said int he guide that you need to state which one you fall under as they will review your documents / application using that lense.
My guess is that they will expect more achievements from an exceptional talent applicants compared to an exceptional promise applicant and they use this to review / judge your documents / evidences. The punchline is this and this is what I tell people who reach out to me for advise or consultancy; if you have less than 10 years experience in the field, its best to apply as an exceptional promise (a.k.a an emerging leader in your field) BUT if you have more than 10 years, you should apply as an exceptional talent because you’ve got a lot of years to rack up achievements and you need to be able to show this.
On a final note, at the end of the day – it is up to you to pick which one you feel you fall under and I believe Tech Nation team will use their digression.
#5. What’s The Difference Between Stage 1 and Stage 2?
#6. Is There Still Space for Me?
People are always concerned about the amount of spaces left and if they will still be able to apply or get endorsed. In a nutshell, there are 2000 spaces available per year, this 2k spaces are shared among the five (5) different competent bodies. (Arts Council England, The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of Engineering, The British Academy and Tech Nation). Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) is subject to a limit of 2,000 endorsements in total per year (beginning on 6 April one year and ending on 5 April the following year).
This is split into 2 phases with half the limit available from 6 April to 30 September each year; and the body’s remaining unused allocated endorsements made available from 1 October to 5 April each year. If the limit for a Designated Competent Body is reached at any point, and there are no remaining unallocated places, this will be clearly stated on the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) section of the GOV.UK website so you should check this before making an application. Further information would appear here only if a limit is reached
Do not be scared or worried about spaces filling up, apply when you are ready because even though thousands of people might be applying, a lot of them are also being denied because they do not fulfill the requirements. So, apply when you are ready. I hope you’ve been able to gain some type of value, I also hope from this post.
I also hope I’ve been able to clear the air on some things that might have been confusing to you. If there is any other thing that is confusing to you, be sure to drop a comment or shoot me an email and I will reply and maybe add it to the list if it is something a lot of people are confused about. All the best and success in your application.
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