Route 4: Peer review

Route 4 of the Global Talent visa is for individuals who wish to be considered for endorsement by peer review undertaken by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering or the Royal Society.

Applicants can choose to be considered under ‘exceptional talent’ (for leaders in their field) or ‘exceptional promise’ (for potential leaders in their field). This route is not fast-track. You can apply with or without a job offer.

The British Academy reviews applications from the humanities and social sciences, the Royal Academy of Engineering covers engineering, and the Royal Society covers the natural and medical sciences. The full list of eligible disciplines and sub-disciplines per endorsing body is available on GOV.UK.

Stage one (endorsement)

To apply for endorsement under this route, you must complete the full Stage 1 (endorsement) application form and submit the required supporting documents.

After you have submitted your Stage 1 (endorsement) application via the Home Office, the endorsing body to which you have applied will conduct an initial eligibility check against the relevant mandatory and qualifying eligibility criteria. Meeting these criteria does not guarantee that your application will be endorsed, only that it will be referred for further assessment.

Under exceptional talent, you will only be eligible to apply if you meet all the mandatory eligibility criteria and at least one of the qualifying eligibility criteria. Under exceptional promise, you will only be eligible to apply if you meet all the mandatory eligibility criteria. The requirements are set out below.

Exceptional talent (leader)

Mandatory criteria

  • You must be an active researcher in a relevant field, typically in a university, research institute or in industry;
  • You must have a PhD or equivalent research experience (including industrial or clinical research);
  • You must meet one or more of the following qualifying criteria.

Qualifying criteria (you must meet one or more of the following)

  • You must be a member of your national academy or a foreign member of an academy of another country; or
  • You must have been awarded a prestigious internationally recognised prize; or
  • You must provide a letter of recommendation from a senior member of a reputable UK organisation concerned with research in your field. This letter must be in addition to the mandatory letter detailed below under the heading ‘Application content and documentation for standard endorsement through peer review’.

Exceptional promise (potential leader)

Mandatory criteria

  • You must be an active researcher in a relevant field, typically in a university, research institute or in industry;
  • You must have a PhD or equivalent research experience (including industrial or clinical research);
  • You must be at an early stage in your career;
  • You must have been awarded, or have held in the last five years, a prestigious UK‐based research fellowship, an international fellowship or advanced post judged by the endorsing body to be equivalent to such a fellowship.

If you meet the initial eligibility criteria, your application will be peer reviewed by experts in your field who will look at the strength of the evidence to determine whether your application demonstrates exceptional talent or exceptional promise. We will assess you solely on the evidence you provide as part of your application.

Peer reviewers will be asked if there are any conflicts of interest and, if these exist, another reviewer will be asked to comment instead. As each application is assessed independently by relevant experts, the endorsing bodies cannot advise on the likelihood that your application will be endorsed.

The peer review assessment will consider the following criteria.

For exceptional talent (leader):

  • Whether you are the winner of a prestigious prize or award;
  • Whether you have secured significant funding for your work in the past ten years;
  • Whether you are regarded as a leader in your field.

For exceptional promise (potential leader):

  • Whether you have provided evidence sufficient to demonstrate that you have the potential to be a future leader in the field;
  • The level of additional funding secured during or following tenure of a relevant fellowship;
  • Whether you have provided evidence of a relevant prize or award for early career researchers;
  • The significance of your contribution to your field relative to your career stage.

For both exceptional talent (leader) and exceptional promise (potential leader):

  • Your track record/career history (including your international standing, the significance of your publications, prizes and research funding awarded, patents, and the impact of past innovation activity, in a company, academia or as an individual);
  • The strength of the supporting statements in the letter of personal recommendation, and evidence in relation to qualifying criteria, including a written recommendation from a reputable UK organisation concerned with research in your field (if relevant);
  • The expected benefits of your presence in the UK in terms of the contribution to UK research excellence and to wider society, including potential economic benefits from exploitation of intellectual capital.

Application content and documentation for standard endorsement through peer review

In order for your Stage 1 application to be considered for standard endorsement through full peer review, you must submit the following documents as part of your application to the Home Office:

  1. A completed Stage 1 (endorsement) application form;
  2. A short curriculum vitae outlining your career and publication history (no more than three sides of A4 in length);
  3. A mandatory letter of personal recommendation from an eminent person resident in the UK supporting your application. The person must be familiar with your work and your contribution to your field, and qualified to assess your claim for exceptional talent or exceptional promise. Full details of what the letter should include can be found below;
  4. Evidence in relation to at least one of the qualifying eligibility criteria listed above.

Please note that the endorsement application form asks you to provide details of your qualifications, significant papers/prizes, etc. You should not provide copies of these documents with your application unless these specifically demonstrate that you meet the qualifying criteria.

Guidance for applicants on letters of recommendation for standard endorsement through peer review

The British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society reserve the right to determine at their own discretion whether organisations or individuals are well established and widely acknowledged as possessing expertise in your field.

Mandatory letter of personal recommendation (exceptional talent/exceptional promise)

The mandatory letter of personal recommendation should be from an eminent person resident in the UK. The person must be:

  • resident in the UK
  • familiar with your work and your contribution to your field; and
  • an eminent individual who is qualified to assess your claim of exceptional talent or exceptional promise.

We have the right to refuse your application or request more information via the Home Office if evidence is not provided that the author of the mandatory letter is a credible referee. This could significantly delay your application. The letter should include:

  • how the eminent person knows you;
  • details of your achievements in your field;
  • how, in the opinion of the eminent person, you exhibit exceptional talent/exceptional promise;
  • how you would benefit from living in the UK; and
  • the contribution you would make to UK research excellence and to wider society.

Please ensure that the letter is as detailed as possible.

The letter should be signed and dated. It should also include the full contact details of the author including personal email address and direct telephone number so that personal contact can be made if necessary.

Letters of recommendation should be written specifically for this purpose and include the information detailed above. The letter should not be a general all-purpose reference letter. Copies of employment contracts are not sufficient as they will not contain all of the required information.

Qualifying letter of personal recommendation (exceptional talent)

The qualifying letter of recommendation (for exceptional talent only) should be from a reputable UK organisation concerned with research in your field. The letter must be written by an authorised senior member of the organisation, such as a Chief Executive, Vice-Chancellor, Director of Human Resources, or similar. This is not an exhaustive list but the more reputable the author the stronger we consider the letter of recommendation to be.

Acceptable organisations are those that are widely acknowledged as possessing expertise in your field. They should be familiar with your work and able to recommend you with confidence.

The letter should be signed and dated and written on official headed paper. It should also include full contact details including an email address and telephone number so that contact can be made if necessary.

Letters of recommendation should be written specifically for this purpose and include the information detailed above. The letter should not be a general all-purpose reference letter.

This page was last updated on 8 March 2021

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