Call now - 020 8215 1205

How Do I Switch from a Tier 2 to a Global Talent Visa?

18 February 2021 Written by Support Category: Blog

The Global Talent visa is designed for individuals aged over 18, who are able to demonstrate an exceptional ability to contribute to the UK's position within the global economy. If you are able to show exceptional promise or talent within fields such as engineering, science, medicine, humanities, arts, digital technology, film, architecture or fashion, the Global Talent visa route may be open to you.


The UK uses this route to attract the brightest and most promising talent from around the world, with a mission to lead the way with innovations, creativity, and cutting-edge expertise. Following regulatory changes on 1 December 2020, if you are already based here in the UK, it may be easier to switch your immigration category from Tier 2 to a Global Talent visa thanks to improved flexibility. In this useful guide, we will take an in-depth look at Global Talent visas and the process of switching category, so that you can decide which status is the best option for your specific situation.

Global Talent Visa Endorsement

The Global Talent visa, previously known as the Tier 1 visa, was introduced on 30 January 2020. There are very few changes and the whole process is still divided into two main stages, the endorsing stage, and the application itself for entry clearance or permission to stay. The initial endorsing stage involves applications being submitted to the relevant endorsing bodies, although the application is actually made to the Home Office. The endorsing body will review the application in terms of skills, achievements, and abilities, before advising the Home Office whether the visa endorsement should be granted. For example, an individual looking to apply for a Global Talent visa relating to the digital technology sector will need to be endorsed by Tech Nation. This is the recognised endorsing body for this sector, and it is solely responsible for endorsing any Global Talent visa applications on behalf of the Home Office. The endorsing body will consider whether the applicant is able to demonstrate a track record of innovation and recognition within the sector. The total time taken for the endorsing body to reach their decision will usually be less than 5 weeks. However, there is a fast-track route available for those who fall into certain research categories, with decisions returned within 1 week. Depending on the outcome, the applicant can be endorsed as a leader within their sector, an emerging leader, or within the UK research and innovation category. The main differences between these endorsements relate to the qualifying period required for an individual to apply for settlement. In general, leaders within a sector can apply after 3 years, however, emerging leaders will need to wait 5 years before applying for settlement.

Global Talent visa applications - stage 2

If an application is endorsed, it will pass through to the second stage which involves completion of the application for permission to either enter or stay in the UK. This must be completed within 3 months from the date the endorsement was granted, otherwise, the endorsement will expire, and a new application will need to be submitted. There are two possible application forms available, one for those applying from outside the UK looking for entry clearance and one for applicants already in the UK who are seeking permission to stay. If an application is successful, the visa will be granted for a set time period up to a maximum of 5 years, however, this can be extended. There is no time limit on the total length of time an individual can remain in the UK under the Global Talent route, however, extensions will need to be approved. The main requirement to extend a Global Talent visa is that the original endorsement from the relevant body is not withdrawn. Although, the applicant will need to prove that they have been working within their field and earned money during their original visa period.

The differences between Tier 2 visas and Global Talents visas

There are some key differences between the Tier 2 visa route, otherwise known as the skilled worker route, and the Global Talent route. The main difference relates to how the application process is handled, with Tier 2 applications handled by the company employing the skilled worker instead of the applicant themselves. This means that to UK immigration lawyersimmigration lawyers an individual will need a job offer from a UK-based company. The employing company must hold a licence to employ workers from outside the UK, which allows them to act as a licensed sponsor for the applicant to apply through the Tier 2 visa route. The paperwork and cost involved in a Tier 2 application are usually covered by the licensed sponsor, with the applicant simply needing to apply for the visa. In most situations the applicant will have a reasonable chance of approval, however, the ability to remain in the UK is tied to the job role and the sponsoring employer. This means that if the individual wants to change jobs they will need to be sponsored by another licensed employer, with another Tier 2 visa application required. In addition, it is not possible to work outside of the sponsored position. This lack of flexibility with Tier 2 visas often leads to these individuals looking to switch to a Global Talent visa. In comparison to a Tier 2 visa, the Global Talent route offers excellent flexibility. The individual is able to change jobs, work alongside their main role and even start a business, without having to inform the Home Office. If Global Talent visa holders wish to obtain permanent residence in the UK at a later date, they must continue to operate within the sector relating to their visa.

Switching from Tier 2 to a Global Talent visa

It is only possible to switch to the Global Talent visa route if you are already categorised as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 5, a start-up migrant, or an innovator visa visa, however, you will still need to complete a successful endorsement application. If you do not fall into one of these tiers, or you are classed as a visitor, student, parent of a student, seasonal worker, or domestic worker, you will not be able to switch within the UK. You may still be able to obtain a Global Talent visa, however, you will need to apply as an applicant from outside of the UK. Since 1 December 2020, the rules relating to switching to Global Talent routes have become more flexible. However, there are some aspects that still remain important for those looking to switch. For example, if you switch from Tier 2 to a Global Talent visa, you will be able to work outside your main role, however, it must be within the same profession and for no longer than 20 hours per week.

Indefinite leave to remain and Global Talent Visas

Settlement in the UK with indefinite leave to remain via a Global Talent visa is granted after either 3 or 5 years, depending on the endorsement level. Although, the applicant will need to prove that they have earned money within their expert field, or researchers can show a letter from their funding institution. In addition, the applicant will need to satisfy the criteria of KoLL by passing a B1 English language test and life in the UK test. When applying for indefinite leave to remain, there will be an absence requirement that needs to be satisfied. The applicant must not leave the UK for more than 6 months each year, however, there are some exceptions to this rule for those with Global Talent visas in the fields of medicine, science, engineering, or humanities. If the absence from the UK related to overseas research, the periods spent outside the UK will be discarded from the rules. In terms of switching from a Tier 2 visa, an important consideration when switching visa categories is the eligibility for leave to remain in the UK indefinitely. If the Tier 2 visa classification does not permit switching to a Global Talent visa from within the UK, you will need to leave and apply for permission to enter, which could break the continuity of leave in relation to indefinite leave to remain.

The impact of Brexit on Global Talent visas

EU citizens who were classed as residents within the UK before 11 pm on 31 December 2020, will need to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021 to remain in the UK. Individuals which missed this cut-off time will need to apply for permission to work or start a business in the UK via a visa. It is worth noting that Irish citizens within the UK, will not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme or for a visa beyond this date. This means there is likely to be an increase in Global Talent visa applications from EU citizens. To support these changes many employers are applying to become licensed sponsors, as since 1 January 2021 it is no longer possible to recruit EU citizens.

Start the switching process

The Global Talent visa is one of the most flexible, highly prized visas in the world, and competition is high. Whether you are thinking of switching from a Tier 2 visa or applying for your first visa via the Global Talent route, our team of expert immigration lawyers can offer you the expert support you need. We have extensive experience in helping both businesses and individuals obtain the required UK visas, so our team can provide clear, reliable, and practical advice. To find out more about how we can help, please contact our team today. 

Speak to us now - 020 8215 1205

Immigration: Experts

We have extensive experience in successfully helping businesses and individuals apply for a wide range of UK visas. When you work with us, you will receive clear, practical and reliable advice to help you achieve your immigration goals.