Sanwar Ali comment:
Will this new UK visa system make things any easier, compared to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise visa which is difficult to come under. There has been criticism from opposition parties that the new Global Talent UK visa will not make much difference.
If very few people qualify for the new UK visa then this will be yet another failed visa scheme. There is also some confusion about the new scheme. What will happen to digital and creative sector professionals?
The UK government has announced that a new, global talent visa will be launched on 20 February 2020 as part of a post-Brexit immigration system. The visa will have no limit on the number of applicants, will not require an applicant to have a job in the UK before entry and will replace the Tier 1 exceptional talent visa, which is capped at 2,000 per year.
The global talent visa will be open to highly talented foreign nationals working in a number of specialist fields, including science, research and mathematics among others. Applicants will also require an endorsement from a recognised UK body such as The Royal Society or The Royal Academy of Engineering.
The announcement comes as the UK leaves the European Union on 31 January.
UK Global talent visa won’t be overseen by Home Office
Under current UK immigration rules, highly talented workers are subject to the costly and highly-bureaucratic Tier 1 exceptional talent visa process, currently overseen by the Home Office. The Tier 1 visa is capped at 2,000 per year, but the limit has never been reached.
Under a post-Brexit UK immigration system, the new global talent visa will reportedly be managed by UK Research and Innovation, the agency responsible for Britain’s public research budget.
This means that applications will be processed by people that are well-placed to determine the scientific credentials of applicants, rather than UK immigration officials.
President of The Royal Academy of Engineering, Sir Jim McDonald, expressed his delight at the new visa being run by researchers rather than civil servants.
He said: “The new arrangements will allow awardees of a much larger range of UK and international fellowships to receive fast-track visas through the academies, while UKRI will administer a route that awards fast-track visas to principals and named team members of research and innovation grants from a range of endorsed funders.”
President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Robert Lechler, said: “The Global Talent visa will allow research and technical staff from around the world to come and work in the UK. “Crucially, it enables UK-based researchers to recruit international team members from across the world, while researchers from outside the UK can develop their careers here.”
“Future security is provided for those wishing to stay by giving them a route to permanent settlement after three years,” Lechler added.
Venki Ramakrishnan, president of The Royal Society, described the global talent visa as ‘attractive’ and welcomed the government’s announcement.
“It sends out a positive message that the UK is committed to remaining open to overseas science talent,” Ramakrishnan said.
Global Talent UK visa nothing but a marketing gimmick
However, Home Affairs spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, Christine Jardine, dismissed the new global talent visa as a ‘marketing gimmick.’
Jardine said: “Boris Johnson is showing that he fundamentally doesn’t understand what makes our science sector so successful. Changing the name of a visa and removing a cap that’s never been hit is not a serious plan.”
Labour’s spokesperson for industrial strategy, Chi Onwurah, echoed Jardine’s comments and although Onwurah welcomed the visa as a sign of additional support and recognition for science, she said it does suggest a ‘lack of understanding of innovation, which depends on scientists, researchers, engineers and technicians at all levels and not just a few ‘top talent.’
Ms Onwurah said: “Ending the Erasmus scheme, denying visas to scientists from Africa and Asia, imposing a minimum salary of £30,000, these all adversely affect the richness and quality of our scientific base.”
The launch of the global talent visa on 20 February will signal the end of the Tier 1 exceptional talent visa, launched in 2014. While a number of industry specialists have welcomed the news of a global talent visa, many fear that with it being open to highly talented individuals only, it will still fail to address chronic skills shortages.
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