Visas for leading anthropologists: a pathway to the UK for exceptional talent

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Nick Nason, a solicitor at Edgewater Legal, frequently advises clients applying under the Global Talent immigration route. In this blog we outline how anthropologists might qualify, with some guidance for applicants during the process.

If you are acknowledged as an exceptionally talented anthropologist, or if you demonstrate exceptional promise in the field, you may be eligible to apply for a UK visa. Let's explore how you might be able to qualify.

Visa overview

The Global Talent visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years, offering a pathway to settlement and British citizenship thereafter.

To apply, you would usually need to be endorsed by the British Academy beforehand. The endorsement application involves the completion of an online form and provision of supporting evidence that you meet the criteria. If accepted for the endorsement by the British Academy, you can apply for the visa.

Those endorsed under the Exceptional Talent route may apply for accelerated settlement after 3 years. Applicants showing exceptional promise (meaning those in the early stage of their career) are usually eligible after 5 years.

Peer review endorsement

There are four endorsement routes, but we will focus on Route 4 (Peer Review), as it does not require a pre-existing offer of a position, fellowship, or funding.

If you have an eligible academic or research position in the UK (Route 1), a qualifying fellowship (Route 2), or are part of an approved funding grant from UKRI (Route 3), you should explore these alternatives.

Holders of prestigious prizes can apply for a Global Talent visa without needing an endorsement and these are listed at the bottom of this post.

Basic eligibility criteria

To be considered, you must be an active researcher (in a university, research institute, or industry) with a PhD or equivalent research experience, including industrial or clinical research.

If applying on the basis of exceptional promise (i.e. you have the potential to be a leader in anthropology), you must be at an early career stage.

Your application will undergo review by your peers - experts within anthropology - to assess whether you demonstrate exceptional talent or promise based on the evidence provided.

Detailed criteria for peer review

The peer review assessment will evaluate (based on the evidence you provide):

  • Track Record and Contributions: Your career history and contributions to anthropology, your international standing, the significance of publications, prizes, research funding, patents and other intellectual property, and impact of past innovation.
  • Supporting Statements: Strength of supporting letters
  • UK Presence Benefits: Expected contributions to UK research, innovation, and society, including economic benefits from intellectual capital exploitation.

Assessors are seeking compelling evidence of originality, creativity, independence, and intellectual leadership in research and innovation. They will also consider your research vision's merit, novelty, significance, and quality, along with your plans to contribute to UK research and innovation excellence.

Required Documents

You are required to provide the following documents in support of your application:

  • Online Application Form: Includes details of qualifications, fellowships, grants, significant publications, prizes, and patents.
  • Short CV: Maximum of 3 sides.
  • Personal Recommendation Letter: From an eminent person resident in the UK who is familiar with your work and contributions to anthropology, and qualified to comment on your claim of exceptional talent or showing exceptional promise.
  • Second Letter (Exceptional Talent Only): From an eminent person who is also a senior member of a reputable UK organization focused on research or innovation in anthropology.

Additional evidence can be submitted to support your endorsement application.

Supporting Letter Content

The recommendation letter should be from an ‘eminent’ person in the UK who is a leader in anthropology. It should be signed, dated, and on headed paper (if applicable), covering:

  • How the author knows you
  • Your achievements in anthropology
  • How, in their opinion, you have shown evidence of your exceptional talent or promise
  • How you would benefit from living in the UK
  • How you will likely contribute to UK research, innovation, and/or to wider society.

For exceptional talent applications only, the second letter must confirm:

  • That the author is a senior member of a reputable UK organisation focused on research or innovation in anthropology
  • Why they think your work shows exceptional talent and how you are likely to contribute to UK research or innovation excellence and to wider society, and
  • A statement confirming the objectivity of their assessment

Both letters should contain contact details for the author.

Application tips

When assisting clients in this route, I usually have the following thoughts:

  • Apply! The Global Talent visa offers significant benefits with light documentary requirements when compares to other visas, and a relatively low endorsement application fee. So if you think you are in with a chance it may be worth applying
  • Provide Additional Documents: Beyond the mandatory letters, further evidence can strengthen your application so it’s worth including additional evidence - beyond the minimum - if you think it can strengthen your application
  • Follow The Guidance: Ensure letters cover the specified information and explain how and why you are a leader or show promise in anthropology.
  • Choose Eminent Authors: The more prominent the letter writers, the more weight their evidence will carry.

Edgewater Legal regularly reviews and manages Global Talent visa applications. Please do contact us for further assistance.

Prestigious prizes list

As referred to above, you will be eligible to apply for a Global Talent visa without the need to obtain an endorsement if you are the holder of any of the following qualifying prizes, and the prizes has not been withdrawn or suspended.

Qualifying Prize Name of Awarding Body
Abel Prize Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
AF Harvey Engineering Research Prize Institution of Engineering and Technology
Annual Review Prize Lecture Physiology Society
Bakerian Medal and Lecture Royal Society
Balzan Prize International Balzan Prize Foundation
Benjamin Franklin Medal Franklin Institute
Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture Berggruen Institute
Blue Planet Prize Asahi Glass Foundation
Cadman Award Energy Institute
Centenary Prize Royal Society of Chemistry
Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering US National Academy of Engineering
Copley Medal Royal Society
Crafoord Prize Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Crafoord
Croonian Medal and Lecture Royal Society
Davis Medal IChemE
Distinguished Fellowship British Computing Society
Faraday Medal Institution of Engineering and Technology
Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize National Academy of Engineering
Fields Medal International Mathematical Union
Fyssen International Prize Fondation Fyssen
Gold Medal Institution of Civil Engineers
Honorary Membership British Ecological Society
Holberg Prize Holberg Committee
Humboldt Research Award Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
IEEE Medal of Honor Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
INCOSE Pioneer Award International Council on Systems Engineering
Individual Gold Medal Royal Aeronautical Society
International Award Biochemical Society
International Medal Institution of Civil Engineers
Isaac Newton Medal and Award Institute of Physics
IStructE Gold Medal Institution of Structural Engineers
J J Thompson Medal for Electronics Institution of Engineering and Technology
James Watt International Medal Institution of Mechanical Engineering
Japan Prize The Japan Prize Foundation
John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity John W. Kluge Centre
King Faisal Prize – Medicine King Faisal International Fund
King Faisal Prize - Science King Faisal International Fund
Kyoto Prize – Advanced Technology Inamori Foundation
Kyoto Prize – Basic Science Inamori Foundation
Kyoto Prize – Arts and Philosophy Inamori Foundation
Lasker-Debakey Clinical Medical Research Award Lasker Foundation
Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science Lasker Foundation
Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award Lasker Foundation
L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science L’Oréal-UNESCO
Louis-Jeantet Prize The Louis-Jeantet Foundation
Lovelace Medal British Computing Society
Melchett Award Energy Institute
Mensforth Manufacturing Gold Medal Institution of Engineering and Technology
Millennium Technology Prize Technology Academy Finland
Mountbatten Medal Institution of Engineering and Technology
Nine Dots Prize Kadas Prize Foundation
Nobel Prize - Chemistry The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Nobel Prize - Economic Science The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Nobel Prize - Literature The Swedish Academy
Nobel Prize - Physics The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Nobel Prize - Medicine Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet
President’s Award Energy Institute
Prince Philip Medal Royal Academy of Engineering
Princess Royal Silver Medal Royal Academy of Engineering
Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation
Rayleigh Medal Institute of Acoustics
Robert Koch Award Robert Koch Foundation
Robert Koch Gold Medal Robert Koch Foundation
Vane Medal British Pharmacological Society
W H Pierce Prize Society for Applied Microbiology
Wolf Prize - Agriculture Wolf Foundation
Wolf Prize - Arts Wolf Foundation
Wolf Prize – Chemistry Wolf Foundation
Wolf Prize – Mathematics Wolf Foundation
Wolf Prize - Medicine Wolf Foundation
Wolf Prize - Physics Wolf Foundation