International collaboration and mobility is fundamental for good research and innovation. The Academy works to ensure that the UK immigration system is able to support the mobiity of talented researchers.
The Global Talent visa is a UK immigration category for talented and promising individuals in specific sectors wishing to work in the UK. It replaced the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa on 20 February 2020.
To be considered for entry under the Global Talent visa, applicants must gain an endorsement from one of six endorsing bodies engaged by the Home Office.
If you are applying for endorsement in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, the social sciences or the humanities, the Home Office will refer your application to the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society or UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) which will make a endorsement decision based on the evidence you provide.
If endorsement is granted, the final immigration decision rests with the Home Office.
Applying for a Global Talent visa in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, the social sciences and the humanities
There are four routes to obtaining endorsement for a Global Talent visa in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, the social sciences and the humanities:
- Senior appointments – fast-track endorsement for individuals who have accepted a job as a Professor, Associate Professor, Reader or equivalent position, such as Senior Group Leader, at an approved UK higher education institution or research institute provided certain recruitment requirements are met. This route is administered by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society.
- Individual fellowships – fast-track endorsement for individuals who have been awarded an individual fellowship on the list approved by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society. The fellowship must be held currently or within the last 12 months.
- Endorsed funders – fast-track endorsement for researchers and specialists whose name or job title is specified in a successful grant application from an endorsed funder approved by UKRI. In order to be eligible, researchers must be hosted or employed by eligible institutions named in Annex 2 of the Immigration Rules or on the UKRI Global Talent Visa page.
- Peer review – standard endorsement for individuals who submit an application for full peer review by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering or Royal Society.
Please see this applicant decision tree to identify which route may be most appropriate for you.
For the endorsed funders route, UKRI will review applications from any academic or research discipline. For the other three routes, the applicant must select the appropriate endorsing body based on their field of research.
The British Academy reviews applications from the humanities and social sciences, Royal Academy of Engineering covers engineering, and the Royal Society covers the natural and medical sciences.
What does the Global Talent visa offer?
The Global Talent visa allows successful applicants to work in the UK and is granted for a period of up to five years at a time without a sponsor or entry requirements such as language tests and minimum salary thresholds which apply to other UK immigration categories. Benefits include being able to change roles and employing organisations without permission from the Home Office, enter self-employment, set up a spin-out company, and earn additional income from consultancy or other sources which may or may not relate to the field of research in which the applicant was endorsed. There is no cap on the number of visas granted under this visa category and applicants can choose the length of their visa, initially up to five years with the option to renew multiple times.
In addition, the Global Talent visa comes with considerable advantages for individuals, their partners and their dependants wishing to establish a long-term connection to the UK, including a fast-track to settlement after three years for the main applicant. The visa also allows successful applicants to undertake research overseas without this counting towards the maximum time period allowed for absences in the context of applications for settlement. See Home Office Guidance (insert link) for information on the rules covering dependants, extension and settlement.
How do I apply for a Global Talent visa?
The Academy has been engaged with the Migration Advisory Committee’s reviews of Tier 2 visas. The Committee was commissioned by the Home Secretary to consult and report on various aspects of the current Tier 2 visa system, which represents the major route for non-EEA international researchers entering the UK research base.
The Academy submitted evidence to the Committee’s initial review focussed specifically on Tier 2 visa salary thresholds. Our submission urged the to Committee to ensure that any threshold changes were proportionate to the average salaries paid within biomedical research, particularly recognising the difference between clinical and non-clinical researchers. We stressed that any additional barriers to international appointments risked isolating the UK from the global talent pool, creating an adverse impact on our world-leading research institutions.
We have subsequently engaged with the Committee’s broader review, and made a joint submission with our sister Academies which emphasised the value of non-EU researchers to the UK, and the importance of maintaining the ability of UK institutions to recruit them. These messages were reinforced by a joint sector-wide statement to the Committee, signed by a broad range of Academies, Universities and research organisations, which highlighted the value of drawing on the international labour market alongside existing domestic capacity building, and the value of technical experts.
Following the publication of the Committee's report in January 2016, the Presidents of the National Academies jointly wrote to Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, and James Brokenshire, Minister for Immigration, to ask that the research sector be given special consideration if the government implements two of the MAC's recommendations in particular. These recommendations relate to the minimum salary thresholds for the Tier 2 route and the proposed introduction of an Immigration Skills Charge.
In 2019, the Presidents of the UK national Academies wrote to the Home Secretary outlining why a £30,000 salary threshold would be bad for research and innovation.
On 5 March 2020, the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill was introduced to UK Parliament.
This Bill will repeal EU freedom of movement and make EU, EEA and Swiss citizens subject to UK immigration controls. It does not set out the future immigration system, however a it does lay the foundation for a new immigration system which the Government intends to introduce for EU and non-EU citizens from January 2021.
Due to the highly international nature of research, the Academy strongly believes that the future immigration system must support mobility of researchers and research staff. As a result, we have signed up to a joint statement highlighting the opportunity presented by this Bill to ensure that our immigration system cements the UK as a go-to destination for global research and innovation talent. Crucially, this statement outlines the high cost of the UK visa system compared to other global scientific leaders.