On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union. The EU withdrawal process extended 10 months beyond its original ‘leave’ date of March 29, 2019. During that time, the UK and EU struggled to agree on what a post-Brexit relationship entails—much of which focused on immigration policy.
While countless questions remain, in January 2020, the UK announced its Global Talent Visa to attract “exceptional” talent from abroad. The new visa replaces the Exceptional Talent / Tier 1 Visa; it broadens the scope of who can apply, removes the applicant cap, and provides a fast track to working and living in the UK.
While the Global Talent Visa enables more foreign workers in additional job fields to live and work in the UK, firms hiring skilled talent in these sectors must familiarize themselves with the new visa’s provisions before seeking qualified professionals.
The Global Talent Visa’s Routes for Researchers
Qualified researchers in several fields have a streamlined path to employment in the UK, assuming they meet all prerequisites. There are four paths researchers follow for UK relocation and employment.
Route 1: Senior Appointments – These are professionals who accepted the following roles at any UK-based higher education or eligible research institution:
- Associate professor
- Senior group leader or equivalent
The British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society administer this path and approve for fast-track endorsement.
Route 2: Fellowships – These are professionals awarded a fellowship on the approved list from The British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society. These applicants’ fellowships must be current or held within the previous 12 months.
Route 3: Peer Review – This path is the standard endorsement for those who submitted a successful application. Depending on the applicant’s field, either The British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, or the Royal Society review the application.
Route 4: Endorsed Funders – This route, which was not a part of the Exceptional Talent Visa, is for researchers and specialists with specified names or titles in a successful grant application from recognized funders. UK Research and Innovation administers this path. Those applying and working under the Endorsed Funder route receive grant funding from one of the recognized, phase one funders that include, but are not limited to:
- UK Research and Innovation and its councils
- The Royal Society
- The Royal Academy of Engineering
- The British Academy
- The Academy of Medical Sciences
- Wellcome Trust
- Cancer Research UK
- British Heart Foundation
The Endorsed Funder route requires more stringent application requirements than other routes. Applicants must ensure they meet these steps before applying for grant funding. Applicants can expect a decision within three weeks, but approved applicants must wait a minimum of three months from the date of approval before traveling to the UK.
The Global Talent Visa’s Details and Timelines
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, allotted £300 million to support advanced mathematics research. The financial package also doubles funding for Ph.D. candidates and increases the number of research projects and mathematics fellowships.
Applicants can apply for a Global Talent Visa on the UK government’s website beginning February 20, 2020. However, applicants must first receive endorsement by an approved host or employer and then receive a decision within three weeks of their application date.
What Approved Applicants Gain with the Global Talent Visa
No matter the route, each approved applicant will see a fast-tracked, flexible immigration path to the UK. Once employed in the UK, all approved applicants have the freedom to move between organizations, positions, and locations. There is no minimum salary for eligibility, affording applicants from varied fields more freedom of mobility.
Approved applicants who wish to work with businesses may do so under the new visa; applicants whose career paths may be limited by other visas will have more options to find work or collaborate with other businesses and institutions.
After three years of employment, all approved applicants can then apply for settlement in the UK. Those who perform research outside the UK as part of their responsibilities receive no penalty for time spent outside the country. Currently, EU researchers makeup roughly 50% of the UK’s scientific workforce and do not need visas to work in the UK. However, the freedom of movement between the UK and EU for workers ends after the Brexit transition date on December 31, 2020. Organizations in the UK with EU employees must remain abreast of how the transition impacts their employment eligibility.
The new visa waives an official English Test Qualification. However, applicants must ensure that their target host or employer does not require an English language test before applying.
Applicants’ dependents may accompany them on their relocation to the UK if each meets specific requirements.
Potential Changes to the UK Global Talent Visa and Freedom of Movement
The UK and EU agreed that freedom of movement between EU countries and the UK remains in effect until December 31, 2020. After this date, applicants and those in the EU must anticipate changes to the UK’s immigration system and potential updates to the Global Talent Visa.
Applicants and employers are encouraged to monitor updates from the UK government; currently, little information exists on what the future holds for UK immigration and the Global Talent Visa’s role going forward. But for now, applicants can take advantage of a streamlined system that fast-tracks their potential relocation to the UK.
Ensure Your UK Operations Align with the Global Talent Visa’s Requirements
The new Global Talent Visa makes it easier for highly skilled researchers and innovators to relocate and work within the UK. However, all employers seeking talent abroad must ensure they follow specific requirements for each of the new visa’s four routes, especially those on the Endorsed Funder route.
Between familiarizing yourself with the Global Talent Visa’s provisions and keeping up with EU-UK negotiations, focusing on your daily operations can become challenging. If you need assistance navigating the new visa, or ensuring compliance with UK employment law, or any of the other 185 markets we serve, reach out to Velocity Global today.