By Andrew Osborne, Firm: Lewis Silkin LLP

The UK will introduce a new ‘Global Talent’ visa category on 20 February. This article sets out details of who will be eligible and what is new about the application procedure.

The Global Talent visa will launch on 20 February 2020 after being announced by the Government in August last year.

Novel features of the Global Talent category include that it will have no cap on applications and will offer fast-tracked entry and settlement for eligible applicants within the science and research sectors.

Like the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category, the Global Talent category will also be available to those with proven talent or promise in the areas of digital technology, arts and culture (including film and television, fashion design and architecture).

The Government hopes to attract more top talent globally across the fields the visa covers. The expanded offering also aims to limit the impact the UK’s departure from the EU will have on the ability of scientists and researchers to live and work in the UK after the implementation period, particularly when combined with proposed changes to the immigration route for skilled workers (currently Tier 2).

Details of the Global Talent visa

Specifics of the category, as set out in Immigration Rules published on 30 January include:

  • Adding UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as an endorsing body for scientists and researchers who will be hosted at, or employed by UK research organisations approved by UKRI.
  • Requiring eligible applicants to have an endorsement from UKRI, or one of the bodies approved previously under Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, namely the Royal Society, the British Academy, The Royal Academy of Engineering, Tech Nation and the Arts Council England.
  • Enabling UKRI to provide fast-tracked endorsement to scientists and researchers considered to be making a ‘critical contribution’ to projects that have either received a substantial research grant or funding from an organisation set out in the Immigration Rules.
  • Enabling the other endorsing bodies to fast-track endorsements where the applicant has been awarded a fellowship under an expanded list of recognised fellowships.
  • Easing the restrictions on what specific documents must be provided to show the applicant is eligible for endorsement.
  • Providing accelerated settlement after three years for any Global Talent visa holder who has been endorsed by an endorsing body covering science, engineering, humanities or medicine, regardless of whether the person was endorsed under the ‘promise’ (i.e. potential leader in the field) or ‘talent’ (i.e. leader in the field) criteria. .
  • Accelerated settlement for those endorsed in the areas of digital technology and arts/culture will still only be available where the person meets the ‘talent’ criteria, though why those with promise in those areas have been left out of this possibility is not made clear.
  • Allowing Global Talent visa holders endorsed in the areas of science, engineering, humanities and medicine, and their partner dependants, to have absences disregarded for settlement purposes where these were to undertake research outside the UK directly related to the main visa holder’s grant of leave.

Amendments to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa

No new initial or extension applications can be made under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category after 19 February. Those who have endorsement letters that are still within their three-month validity period can use these to apply under the Global Talent category.

Applications for indefinite leave to remain under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route will continue to be accepted and no closure date has been set for when these must be submitted by. Provisions have been introduced to ignore absences for settlement purposes in the same way as for Global Talent visa holders and their partner dependants.