New support for international talent

In its latest Autumn budget, the government has acknowledged the importance of encouraging and attracting talented individuals to come to the UK. The focus is on attracting individuals working in the international scientific and research community to come to the UK to further their careers in the field of research and development and innovation. This will be achieved by:

  • changing the immigration rules to enable world-leading scientists and researchers endorsed under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route to apply for settlement after three years;
  • making it quicker for highly-skilled students to apply to work in the UK after finishing their degrees;
  • reducing red tape in hiring international researchers and members of established research teams, by relaxing:
    • the resident labour market test
    • allowing the UK’s research councils and other select organisations to sponsor researchers.

This is alongside the expansion of the exceptional talent route, which we wrote to you about in our last alert.

The accelerated route to settlement after only three years' residence in the UK should act as a significant draw for this pool of talented individuals, who will have a choice as to which country to conduct their business and research activities in.

The Chancellor’s reference to making it quicker for highly skilled students to start work is not a new initiative. Since July 2016, the Home Office has been piloting a new scheme for certain highly compliant Universities (currently Bath, Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London). Their students will have their visa issuance facilitated with reduced documentary requirements and may benefit from a short six month post-study visa to assist them to transition into being sponsored under Tier 2 in the UK.

This was also confirmed by the Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, giving his keynote speech at the IBA Biennial Global Immigration Conference in London on 16 November 2017, at which both Nick Rollason and Elspeth Guild of the Kingsley Napley team spoke. The Minister stated: “We are currently running a pilot to test whether highly compliant institutions can reduce the documentary burden being put on students as well as increasing the length of time that those students can stay in the UK after graduation.”