Tier 1 Exceptional Talent guidance – endorsement criteria and evidence required for Architects

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa category has been expanded to include Architects. The usual 2-stage process for Exceptional Talent visa category applies: stage 1 – endorsement application and stage 2 – visa application. Applicants can apply under the Exceptional Talent (world leader) category or Exceptional Promise (emerging world leader) category.

You must be able to demonstrate that you:

  • are professionally engaged in producing work of outstanding quality which has been published, presented or exhibited internationally;
  • can show recent (within the last five years) and regular activity of being engaged professionally as a practitioner in your field; and
  • can show a substantial track record in more than one country (if applying under Exceptional Talent criteria) or a developing track record in one or more countries (if applying under Exceptional Promise criteria).

Endorsing Body

Applications for endorsement are assessed by the Royal Institute of British Architects under the endorsement remit of Arts Council England.

When preparing applications for endorsements, applicants should bear in mind that endorsing bodies are strict in applying the Home Office immigration rules and guidance. It is therefore crucial that applicants focus in detail on the requirements listed by the Home Office and ensure that all the required specified evidence and information are submitted with applications.

Exceptional Talent

You must provide two or more of the following:

  • 1) Two or more examples of recent (in the last five years) evidence of significant international media recognition, online or in print, such as features, articles and/or reviews from national publications or broadcasting companies or international architectural periodicals or journals, in at least one country other than the applicant’s country of residence. Event listings or advertisements are not acceptable;
  • 2) Proof of having, within the last five years from the year of application:
    • Won at least one international award for excellence; or
    • made a significant and direct contribution to winning at least one international award for excellence.

Examples of awards: Aga Khan Award for Architecture, RIBA International Prize, Pritzker Prize, Venice Biennale of Architecture Award, World Architecture Festival Award or another relevant major award. Awards must be awards of merit, rather than monetary awards such as grants and bursaries.

  • 3) Proof of having work published or exhibited in the last five years from the year of application, in contexts which are recognised as internationally significant in the field of architecture, for example monographs published by recognised international publishing houses, exhibitions at international exhibitions/festivals such as the Venice Biennale of Architecture and World Festival of Architecture, or in international galleries with curated architecture exhibitions, such as the RIBA Gallery, Canadian Centre for Architecture. Proof must come from at least one country other than your country of residence and must demonstrate a minimum of two publications or exhibitions of your work.

Exceptional Promise

You must provide two or more of the following:

  • Two or more examples of recent (in the last five years) evidence of UK or international media recognition, online or in print, such as features, articles and/or reviews from national/international publications or broadcasting companies, in at least one country which can be the applicant’s country of residence. Event listings or advertisements are not acceptable;
  • Proof of having, within the last five years from the year of application;
    • won; or
    • been nominated / been shortlisted; or
    • having made a significant and direct contribution to winning, being nominated or being shortlisted for; at least one international or national award for excellence in architecture in the last five years. For example, Aga Khan Award for Architecture, RIBA International Prize, Pritzker Prize, Venice Biennale of Architecture Award, World Architecture Festival Award, RIBA Silver or Bronze Medals (international student awards), AIA Young Architects Awards.
    • Awards must be awards of merit, rather than monetary awards such as grants and bursaries.
  • Proof of having work published or exhibited in the last three years in contexts which are recognised as internationally significant in the field of architecture, for example monographs published by recognised international publishing houses, exhibitions at international exhibitions/festivals such as the Venice Biennale of Architecture and World Festival of Architecture, or in international galleries with curated architecture exhibitions, such as the RIBA Gallery, Canadian Centre for Architecture. Proof must come from at least one country, which can be the applicant’s country of residence and must demonstrate a minimum of two publications or exhibitions of the applicant’s work.

The evidence you supply must consist of no more than ten documents in total to support the above. Please note: a ‘document’ is defined as a single piece of evidence (article, review, letter etc.). Any evidence submitted must be paper based.

To demonstrate you meet the requirements under the Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise

  • if you are providing evidence of having won or being nominated for an international award for excellence, this must include:
    • full details of the nomination or award, including category and year of nomination or award;
    • evidence of your involvement if the nomination or award was as part of a practice or group;
    • evidence of the credit you received for the nomination or award.
    • if you are claiming you made a significant and direct contribution to winning or being nominated for international awards for excellence, evidence is required from the named person on the award(s) or nomination(s) which demonstrates that you significantly influenced or directly resulted in the award or nomination to the named person or practice;
  • if you are providing evidence of having been given support or sponsorship, this evidence must include full details of the support or sponsorship including:
    • the name and details of the scheme;
    • the dates the support or sponsorship were received; and
    • the organisation that awarded it. The Royal Institute of British Architects will conduct independent assessment as to whether the evidence you provide appropriately and adequately supports your claim that you meet the relevant requirements.

You must provide three letters of support

  • The first letter must be from a UK based organisation, institution or company which is well established nationally and/or internationally and widely acknowledged as possessing expertise in your specialist field.
  • The second letter must be from another organisation, institution or company which is well established nationally and/or internationally and widely acknowledged as possessing expertise in your specialist field. This second organisation may be UK or overseas based.
  • The third letter may be either from a third institution or company (UK or overseas based) which is well-established nationally and/or internationally and widely acknowledged as possessing expertise in your specialist field OR from an eminent individual with internationally recognised expertise in your specialist field.
  • At least one of the three letters must be from a UK based organisation;
  • Only one of the three letters can be from an individual.
  • These letters must be from separate organisations, institutions, companies or individuals.

Your letters of support must:

  • be written on headed paper, dated and signed by the author who must be a senior member of the organisation:
  • for architecture applications, such as the President, Chair, Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer, Managing Director, Senior Partner or Editor.
  • include details of the author’s credentials (for example, a CV/resume) and how they know you (personal relationship or reputation);
  • detail your achievements in your specialist field and how, in the opinion of the author, you have either:
  • demonstrated that you are a leader in your field (Exceptional Talent); or
  • demonstrated that you have the potential to become a leader in your field (Exceptional Promise).
  • describe how you would benefit from living in the UK and the contribution you could make to cultural life here. They should also provide details of any of your future professional engagements in the UK that the author is aware of; and
  • include full contact details of the author, including personal email address and direct telephone number, so that personal contact can be made by the endorsing body.

The information contained in the article reflects legal position on 3rd April 2019 and is for general information purposes only and does not aim  to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. We accept no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Carter Lemon Camerons immigration team. The specialist team at Carter Lemon Camerons Solicitors can assist you with all immigration and business-related matters. Our years of expertise in these areas mean that we can provide tailored solutions for you. For more details, please contact our immigration team at immigration@cartercamerons.com or +44 (0)20 7406 1000.