The new Global Talent visa, aimed at attracting the world’s top scientists, researchers, engineers and mathematicians, opens on 20 February 2020.
Extension of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
The Global Talent visa essentially extends the existing Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route. Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) was set up to attract people to the UK who are leaders in their field (Exceptional Talent) or those with potential to become leaders in their field (Exceptional Promise). The focus is on the arts, engineering, science and medical, humanities and digital technology fields. An applicant must be endorsed by a relevant endorsement body in their field to be eligible to apply. Those endorsement options by Royal Society, The British Academy, The Royal Academy of Engineering, Tech Nation and Arts Council England remain.
In addition, from 20 February 2020, applicants from the scientific and research community employed by bodies deemed acceptable by UK Research and Innovation will be eligible for a Global Talent visa where they are hired under research/grant funding for particular UK projects. There are however very specific requirements as to which grants qualify.
Other changes include the fact that there will no longer be an annual limit on the number of visas that may be issued under this category. In reality, this is more of a PR exercise by the government as the limit for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas has never been reached.
Individuals may also, in certain circumstances, be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after three years in the UK (rather than the usual five years).
In addition, in certain cases, individuals’ continuity of residence for the purposes of obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain will not be broken by absences abroad for research purposes. This will also apply to any dependants who accompany individuals during periods spent overseas.
In practice, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route has been underused as many individuals find it difficult to obtain the necessary evidence to show they are world leader or potential leaders in their field. Automatic eligibility in certain cases for individuals in the scientific and research community will, therefore, be welcomed by the research sector and universities.
This route may provide an alternative in some cases to Tier 2 sponsorship and has the added benefits of there being no restrictions on the type of work which the individual may undertake, no minimum salary threshold and no English language requirement. Applicants may be accompanied to the UK by dependants.
There will also now be more flexibility for individuals endorsed in engineering, science, medicine and humanities who later want to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as they will not be penalised for periods of absence from the UK to undertake research work. This exemption is a key development as in practice this has often caused academics and researchers difficulty.