The UK Government have announced a fast track visa scheme to attract the world’s top scientists, researchers and mathematicians. The changes are due to come into effect on 20 February 2020.

Under the scheme, scientists and researchers may be eligible for fast track entry to the UK. 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 Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “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.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”

The Global Talent route replaces the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route and for the first time UK Research and Innovation will endorse applicants from the scientific and research community.
The route will:
• Create a new fast-track scheme, managed by UKRI (UK Research and Development)
• Enable UK-based research projects that have received recognised prestigious grants and awards to recruit top global talent.
• 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.
• 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.
• Double the number of eligible fellowships under this scheme. EPSRC-STFC Stephen Hawking Fellowships and the NERC-UKRI Landscape Decision Fellowships will join others including the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships.
• Continue to ensure dependents can also come to the UK and 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
• Offer an accelerated path to settlement for scientists and researchers who are endorsed on the route
• Provide 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 introduction of the Global Talent route co-incides with ambitious government 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. UKRI is already taking steps to reduce bureaucracy, and in the coming weeks the Government will be consulting world-leading scientists, researchers, academics and industry figures on what more can be done. As part of this, UKRI will simplify the process to apply for funding, removing the unnecessary requirement to precisely forecast the long-term benefits of projects with unpredictable results.

An ambitious Place Strategy for UK R&D will also be published in the summer to ensure funding builds on strengths of the regions. In addition, this year the government will examine how the UK’s catapult centres can strengthen R&D capacity in local areas, improving productivity and contributing to greater prosperity across the UK.