New Fast Track Visa Category to be Launched Later This Year for Migrants with Specialist Skills in STEM Subjects


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Posted on 13 Aug 2019

As part of an initiative to ‘cement the UK as a science superpower’ Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that a new fast track visa category will be launched later this year for selected individuals with skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the ‘STEM’ subjects). 

The new scheme will sit within the existing but ‘substantially’ and ‘radically’ rebranded Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route, to be known instead as the ‘Global Talent’ visa category. The scheme will be open to EU and non-EU nationals and is set to be launched regardless of the terms on which the UK leaves the UK. Until the UK leaves the EU, however, free movement for EU nationals will still apply.

The new category is designed to attract ‘elite researchers and specialists’ in the STEM subjects, either at the start of their careers, or already internationally recognised award winners. 

Key proposals for the redesigned route include:

  • Abolishing the cap on numbers (currently there is a cap of 2,000 places per year under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category)
  • Reviewing the existing Exceptional Talent criteria to open it up to individuals integral to scientific/research teams
  • Expanding the pool of UK research institutes and universities able to endorse candidates
  • Creating criteria that confer automatic endorsement
  • Unlike for the existing Tier 2 of the Points Based System, no prior job offer will be required before coming to the UK and no minimum salary thresholds will apply. This will be the case both when the scheme is launched and under the future immigration system due to come into force in January 2021

The route will also be opened up to scientists and researchers who have secured European research funding prior to the date the UK leaves the EU. 

The new scheme will provide eligible individuals with a three-year visa, during which time they can come and go from the UK as they choose, along with their eligible dependants. At the end of the three years those on the scheme, and any accompanying dependants, will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’/permanent residence).

For more information on this new category, please contact Kate Gamester or any member of the Doyle Clayton business immigration team.  Please also make contact for further updates on the future immigration system and the impact of Brexit on employing EU/EFTA workers.

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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