UKRI Announces New Global Talent Visa

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced the launch of a new Global Talent Visa, effective from 20 February 2020, to ensure the world’s top talent, researchers and mathematicians have smooth access to the UK after Brexit.

The Visa will replace the existing Tier 1 Visa (Exceptional Talent) route for researchers – which is reserved for the very best researchers – and consists of four separate routes to the UK; three of which are ‘fast-tracked’ to ensure ease of access. There will be no cap on the number of researchers who can use the new visa, which will enable UKRI to directly endorse applicants from the scientific and research community. This will allow 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 four visa routes reflect different roles, as follows:

Senior appointments – fast-track endorsement for individuals who have accepted a job of professor, associate professor, reader, senior group leader or equivalent at any UK higher education institution or eligible research institute provided certain recruitment requirements were met. This path is administered by The British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and The Royal Society.

Fellowships – fast-track endorsement for applicants who have been awarded an individual fellowship on the list approved by The British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society. The fellowship must be held currently or within the last 12 months.

Endorsed funders – fast-track endorsement for researchers and specialists whose name or job title is specified in a successful grant application from a recognised funder. This path is administered by UKRI.

Peer review – standard endorsement for individuals who submit a successful application for review by The British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering or The Royal Society (depending on their field of expertise).

Full details of the eligibility criteria are available at the UKRI website.

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 30 January 2020 and come into force on 20 February. The announcement forms part of the Government’s plan to ensure the UK continues to attract the best talent, and is notable for its announcement just days before the UK leaves the EU.

Commenting on the plans, 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.’

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