Fast-track ‘global talent visa’ to be launched

Scientists and researchers seeking a working visa will no longer need a job offer before entering the UK, according to an immigration policy update

Prime minister Boris Johnson said that as Britain leaves the EU he wants to send a message that it’s open to talented people around the world.

“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,” said Johnson.

“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.”

As part of the change the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding agency will be able to recommend applicants.

This adds to the existing Tier 1 ‘exceptional talent’ visa route for UK immigration that required applicants to be endorsed by the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Academy, Tech Nation or Arts Council England.

UKRI chief executive Mark Walport said: "[The] 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 focused on supporting talented people and realising the full potential of their work."

Managing director of corporate immigration law firm Latitude Law, Gary McIndoe, told HR magazine that the 'new' global talent visa isn’t wholly unexpected.

He said: “Boris Johnson announced plans to remove the cap on Tier 1 exceptional talent visas last August, in order to welcome scientific researchers into the UK.

"However, what is new is the replacement of the existing Tier 1 route by the global talent visa. If this is indeed the plan, which is suggested in the government's latest press release, this is a negative step for the UK."

He highlighted that the plans mean some sectors may miss out on workers: “The problem with directly replacing the existing exceptional talent category with the new global talent visa is that the new visa seemingly excludes individuals operating across the arts, engineering and digital tech sectors.

"A statement of changes to the immigration rules is imminent, which should clarify whether the government really does intend to shut out applicants in other fields, and if so why,” explained McIndoe.

“We hope that this is simply miscommunication, and that changes will be made that ensure the global talent visa will expand, rather than reduce, the routes by which outstanding individuals come into the UK," he concluded.