The government has announced a new fast-track visa scheme that will open on 20 February 2020. The new ‘Global Talent’ visa is a significant boost for UK science, technology and research institutions and it is aimed at enhancing their ability to attract top research talent to the UK.

The new visa will create a new fast-track route for UK-based research projects to recruit top global talent. This will be of particular benefit to higher education institutions, research institutes and public sector research establishments. The new scheme will also have no limit placed on the number of ‘Global Talent’ visas that can be issued.

The new visa will offer a greater level of flexibility than the previous Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. It will allow applicants to apply for settlement when they have been in the UK for three years, and provide an exemption from the absence rules for researchers, and their dependents, should they be required to travel overseas during their research work or employment. This is a significant exemption because it means they will not suffer any penalty for such periods of absence if they subsequently apply for settlement in the UK.

From the 20 February 2020, UK Research and Innovation will be able to endorse applicants from the scientific and research community to qualify for this accelerated path to obtain a visa. UK-based institutions and research projects that have received recognised awards are at the front of the queue for getting their ‘top talent’ fast-tracked using this new route.

The new Global Talent Visa will therefore provide a flexible immigration route into the UK and is aimed at enabling UK institutions to attract top global talent. We await further announcements of the detail of the scheme from the government in due course.