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Global Talent Visa: new visa scheme for international researchers to be led by UK Research and Innovation

Date: 27/01/2020

Global Talent Visa: new visa scheme for international researchers to be led by UK Research and Innovation

  • Top scientists and researchers to be given fast tracked entry to the UK with no cap on who can benefit
  • UK Research and Innovation to lead new visa scheme for researchers and specialists
  • Existing visa routes led by National Academies also expanded to cover more UK Research and Innovation fellowships

As part of a package of announcements today, the government has announced changes to Tier 1 Visas for researchers.

A new, fast-track visa scheme to attract the world’s top scientists, researchers and mathematicians will open on 20 February.

This follows a commitment by the Prime Minister last summer to put science, research and innovation on the top of the Government’s agenda.

The bespoke Global Talent route will have no cap on the number of people able to come to the UK, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to supporting top talent.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said:

“The UK has a proud history of scientific discovery, but to lead the field and face challenges of the future we need to continue to invest in talent and cutting-edge research.

“That is why as we leave the EU and level up skills and opportunity across the country I want to send a message that the UK is open and stands ready to support the brightest minds to turn their ideas into reality.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

"Today's announcements further underline the importance of research and innovation to the future success of the UK and the government's continued commitment and investment.

“Working with the government, UK Research and Innovation is ensuring that the UK remains globally leading in these fields.

“Our ambition is clear: to create a stronger research and innovation environment that is focussed on supporting talented people and realising the full potential of their work."

"The new Global Talent Visa, including extensions to the existing fast-track process, will be welcomed across the community and will provide further support to our universities and institutions in their international ambition.”

The Global Talent route will replace the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route. The route provides four ways in which a researcher may be able to obtain a visa.

The changes mean that, for the first time, UK Research and Innovation will endorse applicants from the scientific and research community. This new scheme allows researchers and specialists who are named, or whose role is named, on a grant from an endorsed funder to apply for a fast track visa.

The changes also expand the number of individual fellowships that are covered by a scheme administered by The Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and The British Academy. The announcement doubles the number of eligible fellowships under this scheme. EPSRC-STFC Stephen Hawking Fellowships and the NERC-UKRI Landscape Decision Fellowships will join other fellowships already eligible, including the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships.

A Tier 1 visa provides a number of benefits to recipients:

  • Continue to ensure dependents have full access to the labour market 
  • Preserve the route’s flexibility by not requiring an individual to hold an offer of employment before arriving or tying them to one specific job
  • Provide an accelerated path to settlement for all scientists and researchers who are endorsed on the route
  • Provide for an exemption from the government’s absences rules for researchers, and their dependents, where they are required overseas for work-related purposes, ensuring they are not penalised when they apply for settlement.

The Immigration Rules to bring the visa changes into effect will be made on the 30 January 2020 and come into effect on the 20 February.

The changes are part of the initial phase wider reforms to enable those with world class skills in science and research to come to the UK.

Further information

Details of the new UK Research and Innovation visa scheme, including the endorsed funders at the scheme’s launch.

Details of the schemes administered by national academies are on their websites: The Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and The British Academy.

Further information on applying for a visa to come to the UK is on the UK government website.

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