The government has published details on its new Global Talent visa scheme, designed to attract the brightest and best scientists in the wake of the UK’s EU exit. We’re asking our readers for their thoughts on the scheme.
The new fast-track visa scheme will open on 20 February and will have no cap on the number of people that can come to the UK under its rules. Applicants will require endorsement from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), although the exact criteria for this are currently unclear. However, the government has stated that individuals will not be required to hold an offer of employment before arriving and will not be tied to a specific job.
“The first step of the new arrangements, which will come into force on 20 February, will allow awardees of a much larger range of UK and international Fellowships to receive fast-track visas through the Academies,” said Sir Jim McDonald, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), “while UKRI will administer a route that awards fast-track visas to principals and named team members of research and innovation grants from a range of endorsed funders.”
Scientists working on projects that have already received funding from bodies such as the European Space Agency and the Japan Science and Technology Agency will be eligible, as well as recipients of fellowships including the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, the European Research Council and Human Frontier Science. Dependents of those granted visas will also be allowed to work and an accelerated path to settlement will be available.
The new scheme has been widely welcomed by academics and research bodies, but how effective it will be remains to be seen. Uncertainty since the Brexit vote in 2016 has had a negative impact on R&D, with thousands of international academics and scientists choosing to leave the UK and the country’s share of EU research funding falling by a third. The government will hope the new Global Talent scheme can help mitigate this damage and allow UK R&D to thrive.
Another question is how the UK will fill the thousands of vacant jobs in other sectors that do not qualify under the programme. Fruit pickers, nurses, baristas and care workers may not be as highly prized by this government, but they are no less vital to the economy and indeed the fabric of society. These service sector jobs have long been filled by immigrants from the EU and beyond. There is a strong case that a viable scheme to maintain labour levels in these areas is as important – and perhaps even more important – than the headline-grabbing push to recruit top academics.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and please try to stay on topic. All comments will be moderated and the rules of engagement can be found here.