Although the day may have felt normal, British people woke up to a new world on 1 February 2020. Three and a half years after a referendum result that divided a nation, Brexit is done. Although we have now entered a transition period, which lasts until at least December 2020, the UK is officially no longer a member of the European Project.
Immigration law must be overhauled and quickly. Not only will provisions need to be made to accommodate the end of freedom of movement, but the British government must also address the inevitable labour shortages in many sectors who rely on EU/EEA talent.
The latter process has begun, with the government introducing a Statement of Change to the Immigration Rules at the end of January. It introduces a new Global Talent visa category which will replace the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.
Britain is in desperate need of science and research talent; especially now it is stepping away from the co-operation and treaties which come with EU membership. The Explanatory Note of the Statement of Change explains:
These reforms follow an announcement by the Prime Minister on 8 August 2019, setting out the Government’s intention to develop a new fast-track immigration offer for the brightest and best within the science and research sector, to ensure the UK is the most attractive country to live in and develop new ideas – which also recognises the importance of science and research to the modern industrial strategy and the Government’s stated objectives to increase GDP to 2.4% by 2027. These changes represent the first phase of reforms to achieve these objectives.
The Global Talent category is designed for talented and promising individuals in the fields of science, digital technology, and arts and culture wishing to work in the UK. ‘Talent’ is defined as established leaders in their respective field, while ‘promise’ applicants have shown the potential to become leaders in their sector.
Specific provisions have been made for science and research; however, the category is also aimed at high performers in the technology sector, and arts and culture (such as visual arts, film and television, and fashion design).
Like the existing Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, innovator Visa and Startup Visa, successful applicants in the Global Talent category will need to gain endorsement from a government-approved body. Current endorsing bodies the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, Tech Nation, and Arts Council England will be joined by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Those in the scientific community who are being hosted or employed by a UK research organisation deemed acceptable by UKRI will be considered for entry into the UK via the route. To achieve endorsement, applicants must show they have significantly contributed to work supported by a research grant or funding by an approved funder, as listed in the Immigration Rules. To provide flexibility, the Immigration Rules do not set out the types of documents needed to show proof the applicant meets the standards.
The above endorsed funder option will allow qualifying applicants to be fast-tracked to the entry clearance/leave to remain application stage with minimal evidential requirements, if the meet the benchmarks. And to add to the attractiveness of the scheme, people endorsed by the endorsing bodies responsible for science, engineering, humanities, and medicine can apply for settlement after three years regardless of whether the applicant is granted under “promise” criteria, “talent” criteria or the new endorsed funder option. Those endorsed under the “promise” criteria for digital technology, and arts and culture can apply for Settlement after five years.
The Global Talent route will replace the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. At present, applications for the Tier 1 route apply for entry-clearance based on endorsement letters from an endorsing body, which are valid for three months.
Applicants who already hold Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) leave and who wish to extend their leave, will be able to do so under the Global Talent category. As with initial applications, the extension requirements for the Global Talent route do not generally differ from Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent).
Applicants with a valid Tier 1 Exceptional Talent endorsement letter will be able to use this to apply for entry clearance or leave under the Global Talent category. Those who entered the UK on the exceptional talent route will have the freedom to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain without having to switch to the Global Talent route.
We will provide more details on the Global Talent route as they are released. In the meantime, please call our office to discuss any immigration matters.
Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premier immigration law firms. Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration Solicitors.