Government Announces New Global Talent Visa

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With the UK leaving the EU on 31 January 2020, businesses can expect a number of changes to be introduced relating to the visas required for those wishing to come to the UK for work. While nothing is changing on the day of Brexit, there are expected to be a raft of changes introduced in the coming year.

Earlier this month, the government announced one new visa that it intends to introduce post-Brexit.

This is a fast-track ‘global talent visa’, which is expected to be available for people to apply for from 20 February this year.

It’s aimed specifically at the scientific community, with top scientists and researchers of any nationality able to have their visa fast tracked for entry to the UK.

There is also no cap on the number of people who can apply, with the government hoping that it will encourage some of the world’s “brightest and best” to choose to move to the UK.

Boris Johnson stressed that, for the UK to continue to lead in the field of scientific discovery and research, it needs to “continue to invest in talent and cutting edge research”.

Announcing the new visa, he stated: “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.”

The new global talent visa will replace the Tier 1 (exceptional talent) route, and, for the first time, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will endorse applicants who come from the scientific and research community.

As well as fast-tracking the visas of researchers and scientists, any dependents who move with them will be granted full access to the UK labour market.

To make the scheme as flexible as possible, the person applying won’t need to have an offer of employment before they apply for this visa or move to the UK.

However, Christine Jardine, home affairs spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, told the Guardian that the scheme is little more than a “marketing gimmick”. She said it simply removes a cap that was in place on the previous Tier 1 (exceptional talent) visa, despite it never being reached, and changes its name.

“Boris Johnson is showing that he fundamentally doesn’t understand what makes our science sector so successful,” she stated.

The Liberal Democrats haven’t been the only ones to criticise the scheme. When it was first unveiled as a proposal in August, Dr Adam Marshall, director general at the British Chambers of Commerce, told Personnel Today that one policy like this isn’t enough and that all business sectors in the UK need “concrete immigration policies”.

“At a time when business communities are reporting critical recruitment difficulties, access to skills at all levels is still badly needed by businesses facing shortages in many areas,” he asserted.

There has been much talk of the UK introducing a points-based immigration system, similar to the one operated by Australia.

iNews recently reported on recommendations made by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which urged Boris Johnson and the government to consider lowering the salary required for a migrant to accept a job offer in the UK.

Home secretary Priti Patel asked MAC to explore the country’s options for a visa system following Brexit, and specifically to look at how the UK could model its system on that used in Australia.

One of the top recommendations from MAC is to reduce the minimum salary from £30,000, where it currently stands, to £25,000. It also suggested that the minimum salary could be varied depending on occupation, so that higher paid occupations have higher thresholds.

This would allow the UK to recruit much-needed nurses and teachers, for example. The news provider pointed out that the recommendation to lower the minimum required salary is separate from its assessment of the points-based system.

MAC’s findings in this area are that the UK should only use a points-based system for “talented individuals” moving to the country without a job, rather than using it across the board.

Professor Alan Manning, chairman of the committee, commented: “The government should ensure that the mistakes of previous UK points-based system are not repeated.”

Whatever shape visa and immigration policy takes post-Brexit, businesses are likely to need help navigating this new recruitment environment. For any company that recruits overseas talent, it will become even more important to engage the services of international background screening companies to ensure people are who they say they are on paper.