Amid concerns that leaving the EU will hurt the UK ability to recruit top talent both from the EU member states and third countries.
London’s plans to fast-track visas for researchers wants to allow “the very best minds” to ensure continuous presence post-Brexit in the country, according to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson said he instructed the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to work with the scientific community to develop the new simplified system, which he aims to launch later this year.
“The fast-track immigration route will be designed to attract elite researchers and specialists in science, engineering and technology, from maths Olympiads at the very start of their careers to the winners of internationally recognised prizes and fellowships,” the UK government said in a press release.
Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society scientific academy, welcomed the announcement. According to Ramakrishnan, universities should be trusted “to make the right choices when identifying talented individuals the U.K. needs to guarantee our position among the leading scientific nations.”
According to the UK’s new immigration rules, Johnson’s government could abolish a cap on numbers under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas. It might also explore options on allowing dependents of visa holders to work in the UK. According to the available options, the UK might also explore the possibility of removing the need to hold an offer of employment before arriving, something that makes the travel for young scientists that are looking still for a chance of employment to the UK.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said, “We want Britain to be the most prosperous economy in Europe with an immigration system that attracts the brightest and best global talent”. According to Patel, the UK is looking to introduce a points-based immigration system centred on what people will contribute to the country.
The fast-track immigration route is to be launched “later this year” with Johnson advocating an Australian-style, points-based immigration system to give the government more control to attract talent needed to fill gaps in the workforce.
The government will also look into the possibility of expanding the list of research institutes and universities able to endorse visa applicants, and developing criteria to endorse them automatically.