Route 4: Peer review
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 1 (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 to verify that you:
- are an active researcher - for example in a university, a research institute or industry;
- have a PhD or equivalent research experience, including industrial or clinical research;
- are at an early stage of your career (exceptional promise only); and
- have provided the required documents to be considered for assessment under peer review.
Meeting these mandatory eligibility criteria does not guarantee that your application will be endorsed, only that it will be referred for peer review.
If you meet the mandatory 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. Your application will be assessed under peer review solely on the required evidence provided 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 to determine whether your application contains sufficient evidence that you have been recognised as an exceptional talent and a leader in the field of science, engineering, humanities, social sciences or medicine (exceptional talent applications) or that you have been recognised as showing exceptional promise and as a potential leader in the field of science, engineering, humanities, social sciences or medicine (exceptional promise applications):
- Your track record, career history and contributions to the field to date, including your international standing; the significance of your publications, prizes and research funding awarded; patents, licenses, spinouts or other forms of intellectual property and the impact of past innovation activity, in an organisation, academia or as an individual (as applicable);
- The strength of the supporting statements in the letter of personal recommendation and, for exceptional talent only, in the second mandatory letter with an objective assessment of your reputation in the field; and
- The expected benefits of your presence in the UK in terms of the contribution to UK research and innovation excellence and to wider society, including potential economic benefits from exploitation of intellectual capital.
The assessors are looking for compelling evidence demonstrating a high degree of originality, creativity, independence, and intellectual leadership in research and innovation. They will consider the merit, novelty, significance, and quality of your research and innovation vision, and how it has advanced or is expected to advance the field. They are also looking for a clear and credible plan for what you will expect to do in the UK and how you will contribute to UK research and innovation excellence.
Page last updated: 12 April 2023