Boost for UK science with unlimited visa offer to world’s brightest and best

A new, fast-track visa scheme to attract the world’s top scientists, researchers and mathematicians will open on 20 February.

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 bespoke Global Talent route will have no cap on the number of people able to come to the UK, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to supporting top talent.

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:

  • 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, including from the European Space Agency and the Japan Science and Technology Agency, to recruit top global talent, benefitting 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.
  • 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.
  • Continue to ensure dependents 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.
  • Provide an accelerated path to settlement for all scientists and researchers who are endorsed on the route.
  • Provide for an exemption from our absences rules for researchers, and their dependants, where they are required overseas for work-related purposes, ensuring they are not penalised when they apply for settlement.

The changes are part of the initial phase wider reforms to enable those with world class skills in science and research to come to the UK as soon as possible.

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said:

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.

The reforms to the Global Talent route coincide 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.

With around £60 million funding available per year, the investment will double funding for new PhDs, as well as boost the number of maths fellowships and research projects – increasing the pool of trained mathematicians in the UK and providing more freedom for researchers to develop new ideas.

This funding will make sure the UK remains at the cutting-edge of maths research, underpinning real-world technological developments, from smoother traffic flow, crime prevention, safer air travel, and smarter phone technology to the use of Artificial Intelligence and creating greener energy systems.