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Accelerated UK work visa route for early- and mid-career researchers

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by Cancer Research UK | Research Feature

31 July 2017

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In Transit by Anne Worner

We’re making it easier for exceptionally talented scientists and promising new researchers from outside the UK to join our research community.

We are collaborating with the UK’s national academies to make it easier for outstanding international researchers to obtain a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa to enter or remain in the UK while completing a CRUK fellowship or equivalent awards.

What is the Tier 1 visa route?

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa route is available for exceptional people in fields including medical sciences, natural sciences and engineering who want to enter or remain in the UK. You can apply to enter the UK through this route if:

  • You demonstrate that you are a world leader in your field (exceptional talent); or
  • You demonstrate that you have the potential to become a world leader in your field (exceptional promise)

The application is in two stages:

  1. Eligibility check by a designated competent body and endorsement as either Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise
  2. Immigration application

We are collaborating with the Royal Society, one of the designated competent bodies, to deliver a streamlined endorsement process to make it easier for the most talented cancer researchers to obtain Tier 1 visas.


At CRUK we’re committed to building a strong community of highly-trained, world-class cancer researchers. We understand that our researchers come from diverse backgrounds and from all around the world, and we want to provide the necessary support to enable exceptional scientists to join our world-leading cancer research community in the UK.

Karen Noble, Head of Research Careers


Eligible schemes

A number of our fellowships are recognised for accelerated endorsement through the Tier 1 route. If you have been granted one of the below fellowships you will be guaranteed to pass the eligibility check stage and endorsed as:.

Exceptional Talent:

Exceptional Promise:

If you hold a CRUK grant that isn’t on this list, you can still apply for a Tier 1 visa, but your endorsement is not guaranteed.

Benefits of the Tier 1 visa route

We recognise that to accelerate progress in cancer research we need a collaborative, flexible research environment. Researchers require stability balanced with the flexibility to move and work across the CRUK community and beyond. The Tier 1 visa route offers a number of benefits to researchers, over and above other visa routes, including the option to:

  • Stay in the UK for up to 5 years*
  • Extend and apply for settlement after five years
  • Move between research institutions – your visa is mobile with you
  • Travel abroad during your visa to explore new collaborations
  • Bring family members with you

Further information

If you currently hold an eligible CRUK fellowship, or are considering an application in the future, the Research Careers team are here to help and can advise you on your fellowship and the benefits of the Tier 1 route. For more detailed information regarding the Tier 1 application process visit the Home Office website.


*5 years and 4 months if you apply outside the UK