Details of new UK exceptional talent visa announced

by Ray Clancy on July 29, 2011

Talent visa rules unveiled

The UK government has announced the way that it will encourage exceptionally talented leaders in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts to come to the country.

The new Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category will open on 09 August 2011 and is aimed at those who have already been recognized but also those with the potential to be recognized as leaders in their respective fields.

There is a limit of 1,000 places in the first year of operation. There will be 500 places available between the 09 August and 30 November and a further 500 places available from the 01 December to 31 March 2012. The number of places will be reviewed at the end of March 2012.

Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) will be overseen by world renowned ‘competent bodies’, which will advise the UK Border Agency on these exceptionally talented migrants to ensure that they are the brightest and best in their field.

These organizations include the Royal Society, a fellowship of the world’s most eminent scientists, which will be able to nominate up to 300 places; the Arts Council England, the national development agency for the arts, which will also be able to nominate up to 300 places; the Royal Academy of Engineering, Britain’s national academy for engineering, will have up to 200 places to nominate; and the British Academy, the national academy for the humanities and social sciences which will be able to nominate up to 200 places.

‘The UK is a global leader in science, humanities and engineering and we are a cultural centre for the arts. We will continue to welcome those who have the most to offer and contribute to our society and economy,’ said Immigration Minister Damian Green.

‘Our new exceptional talent route, available for up to 1,000 applicants, will ensure that we continue to attract the brightest into the UK and keep the UK a global leader. ‘This comes at a time of major reform of the immigration system to bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands, tackle abuses and make sure that the immigration system meets the needs of the country,’ he added.

Migrants seeking entry to the UK under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) will not need to be sponsored by an employer, but will need to be recommended by one of the competent bodies.

Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England, said this special visa scheme would enable the very best artists of international standing to live and work in the UK.

‘The international exchange of artists enriches their art, and I’m sure audiences will welcome the opportunity to experience the finest artistic talent from across the world,’ he added.

The President of the British Academy, Sir Adam Roberts, said it is ready to play its part in identifying those outstanding scholars for whom Tier 1 is the appropriate visa category.

The President of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse, said that the government has listened to the science community’s concerns about jeopardizing the UK’s international leadership by restricting the immigration of scientists.

While the government has allotted a number of places to each body, it will be open to the bodies to transfer additional places to those with more demand if this becomes necessary.

Those admitted under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category will initially be granted permission to stay for three years and 4 months. They will then be able to extend their stay for a further two years, and settlement may be available after five years’ residence in the UK.

‘In order to safeguard the UK’s future competitiveness, we must ensure that it remains an attractive destination for world-class engineers. I am confident that this new visa route will help to encourage global excellence to come to the UK,’ said Sir John Parker, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

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