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Introducing the New Global Talent Route

"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". Those are the bold words of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson in relation to the announcement by the Home Office of a new Visa category to attract the world's brightest to our shores.

The truth is that now having left the EU, albeit with the protective netting of a transitional arrangement until the end of 2020, as a country we desperately need to find new ways to attract top talent in all areas. It is for this reason that on 30th January 2020, the Home Office published its 'Statemnet of Change to the Immigration Rule', heralding the new Tier 1 Global Talent category to replace the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route.

What is meant by 'Global Talent'?

According to the Statement of Change document, the Global Talent category is intended to attract "talented and promising individuals in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, humanities, digital technology and arts and culture (including film and television, fashion design and architecture) wishing to work in the UK. Applicants will be leaders in their field or have the potential to be leaders, as determined by an endorsing body. This category may lead to settlement in the UK".

As such, the Home Office is casting a broad net across a range of specialist domains which will see high demand for skills as a result of a number of factors, including departing the single market, our ageing population, and our aspiration (and need) to remain competitive in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (the so-called 'STEM subjects), and the arts.

When will the 'global talent' route be introduced and how long can I stay?

The new route commences on 20th February 2020 and there will be no maximum cap placed on the number of people who can apply and be accepted.

For those who applied before the introduction date for leave to enter, leave to remain, or endorsement under the previous Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category, any decision made by the Home Office will be based on the existing Immigration Rules as of 19th February 2020.

Successful applicants will have an unlimited right to work in the UK for up to 5 years.

How does Global Talent differ from Exceptional Talent?

Many would-be forgiven for thinking there is a great deal of similarity with the outgoing Exceptional Talent category. Much remains from the previous scheme, but there is now a new route for researchers who make critical contributions to work supported by grant funding from a recognised funder. This is a fast-track scheme designed to help high-profile UK research projects to bring in top global talent.

Scientists and researchers in the fields of science, engineering, humanities, or medicine who are endorsed on the route will also have a fast-tracked way to settlement after three years (rather than five years for all other fields). In addition, under the new scheme, any absences which are deemed for 'research purposes' will no longer break the continuity of residence (180 days in any 12 months), therefore, making it easier to secure indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

Am I eligible for the new Global Talent route?

The Global Talented route is open to individuals who are leaders or show exceptional promise in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, research, digital technology, arts and culture. The latter may include those in the fields of film & television (e.g. actors, directors, writers), design (e.g. artists, designers), and architecture.

All applicants using the Global Talent category will require formal endorsement from a government-approved endorsing body. The existing endorsing bodies, namely, The Royal Society, The British Academy, The Royal Academy of Engineering, Tech Nation, and The Arts Council England will now include the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) who will endorse individuals in the scientific and research sectors.

For the new academic and researcher route, the following eligibility criteria will apply:

  • The applicant must be appointed to a role with a grant from a recognised funder
  • The minimum value of the grant must be 30,000 and must support a project of at least two years in duration
  • The applicant must be employed, hosted, or in receipt of a job offer from a UK university, independent research organisation or public sector research establishment
  • The grant must be awarded under the "peer review" category
  • The person must also have a contract for at least 50% FTE work for the next two years as a minimum

It is important to note that the new Global Talent route will not be points-based, hence you will not be required to meet a set points threshold. Instead, your application will be assessed on the merits of your talent and promise in your chosen field.

Final words

The new Global Talent scheme, while mostly a rebranding of the Exceptional Talent scheme demonstrates the intended direction of travel for the government. Some concessions have been made to make the UK more attractive to the world's top talent, including providing holders with greater flexibility to switch roles and employers, removing the cap on numbers, and making it easier to achieve permanent settlement. Quite whether this rebranded scheme is quite enough to attract the best in their respective fields remains to be seen. Some will naturally be unsure and will be waiting to ensure that the UK is genuine in its endeavour to be more open and welcoming. And for research institutions and businesses, this new scheme based on research grant funding will increase the level of flexibility and freedom to recruit the researchers and specialists required they desperately need.

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