UK offers new fast-track visa for top scientists, researchers

Aditi Khanna, London
Published : 00:20, Jan 28, 2020 | Updated : 00:21, Jan 28, 2020

The UK government on Monday announced a new unlimited and fast-track visa offer to attract the world’s top scientists, researchers and mathematicians, set to be enforced from next month.

UK Visa (Representational image)
The bespoke “Global Talent" route will have no cap on the number of people able to come to the UK from around the world, including Bangladesh, and will provide an accelerated path to settlement for all scientists and researchers who are endorsed on the route. The Immigration Rules to bring the visa changes into effect will be set out this Thursday and come into effect on 20 February.
“The UK has a proud history of scientific discovery, but to lead the field and face the challenges of the future we need to continue to invest in talent and cutting edge research,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“That is why as we leave the EU I want to send a message that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world, and stand ready to support them to turn their ideas into reality,” he said.
The changes are part of the initial-phase of wider post-Brexit immigration reforms to enable the "brightest and the best" from around the world access to the UK, with an end to European freedom of movement rules set to kick in after Britain leaves the European Union (EU) later this week.
“The UK is a world leader in science, with research and innovation that changes lives being undertaken every day in this country. To keep the UK at the forefront of innovation, we are taking decisive action to maximise the number of individuals using the Global Talent route including world-class scientists and top researchers who can benefit from fast-tracked entry into the UK,” said UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The new Global Talent route replaces the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in charge of endorsing applicants from the scientific and research community. The route will provide for a brand new fast-track scheme, managed by UKRI which will enable UK-based research projects that have received recognised prestigious grants and awards to recruit top global talent, benefiting higher education institutions, research institutes and eligible public sector research establishments. This will enable an individual to be fast-tracked to the visa application stage, according to the UK Home Office.
It will double the number of eligible fellowships, such as Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, the European Research Council and Human Frontier Science, which also enable individuals to be fast-tracked and will continue to ensure dependents of the applicants have full access to the labour market and able to work in the UK.
It will not require an applicant to hold an offer of employment before arriving or tying them to one specific job and ensure they are not penalised when they apply for settlement based on research-related absences from the country.
The reforms to the Global Talent route coincide with what the UK government says is its ambitious investment of up to £300 million to fund experimental and imaginative mathematical sciences research by the very best global talent over the next five years.