On the eve of the UK’s departure from the European Union, the Government formally introduced a new ‘Global Talent’ visa category to attract ‘promising and talented’ individuals for specific sectors of the economy, replacing the Tier 1 Exceptional talent route. A significant aspect of the new route will be ‘no cap’ on numbers – a departure from the immigration cap language pursued by the two previous Conservative administrations.
The Global Talent route will not be part of the existing Points Based system route.
‘Talented’ individuals are defined as leaders in their fields, whilst those with ‘promise’ will have the ‘potential’ to become leaders in their area of work. These are part of the changes announced by Boris Johnson on 8 August 2019, to attract talented individuals within the science and research sectors to the UK. The Global Talent route will remain open to those in the technology, arts and culture sectors.
Applicants will need to be endorsed by specific bodies as part of the process – the existing Tier 1 Exceptional Talent bodies will remain, with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) body added. The UKRI will endorse individuals ‘hosted’ or ‘employed’ at an approved UK research institution. Those approved will be able to have their visas fast tracked.
Individuals approved by the Royal Society, British Academy or the Royal Academy of Engineering will not require peer review making the process quicker. It will also hopefully meet the aim of having more fellowships available.
Applicants endorsed by science, engineering, humanities and medicine bodies will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after 3 years, whilst others within the category will need to wait 5 years.
Provision will be made for those working abroad approved by their bodies to still be able to qualify for ILR and a more generous provisions relating to calculations of the Immigration Health Surcharge fee.
The Global Talent route is perhaps a recognition the UK needs to attract highly skilled individuals to make up for potential shortfalls of talent previously fulfilled by European nationals. It seems to demonstrate a more pragmatic approach to immigration which is to be commended, whether this will spread to other parts of the immigration systems remains to be seen. The changes will become effective from 20 February 2020.