Boris Johnson has said numerous times that he wants the UK to be seen as a country of ideas and that a major part of his time as Prime Minister will be dedicated to attracting the ‘brightest and best’ people from around the world to live and work here.


A statement of changes to the Immigration Rules made today (30.01.2020) revolves around the new Global Talent Visa, which seems to prove that Johnson meant what he said.


What is the Global Talent Visa?


The Global Talent visa will be replacing the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa from the 20th of February 2020, nationwide. Any applications made before this date will be considered under the old rulings.


The Global Talent visa is aimed at exceptional individuals in the science, digital technology and artistic sectors.


The existing ways of getting a Global Talent (formerly Exceptional Talent) endorsement will remain in place. Those are:


  • The “standard” route where an academic/scientist/researcher can ask for peer review of their career under the categories of “promise” or “talent”
  • The “accelerated” route for those in receipt of a job offer for a senior role at a UK university or research institution
  • A further accelerated route where the person holds a prestigious grant/fellowship (with the list of eligible fellowships to be expanded)


As announced in December, the changes significantly expand the number of fellowships that qualify for fast track consideration by the Royal Society, British Academy or Royal Academy of Engineering, allowing a larger number of applicants to qualify without the need for a full peer review.


More settlement possibilities:


Applicants endorsed by the endorsing bodies responsible for science, engineering, humanities and medicine will be able to apply for settlement after 3 years regardless of whether the applicant is granted under “promise” criteria, “talent” criteria or the new endorsed funder option. The qualifying period to apply for settlement under “promise” criteria for digital technology and arts and culture applicants will remain as 5 years (as was previously required under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent).


Also, applicants will be able to choose how much leave, in whole years, up to a maximum of 5 years they wish to be granted in a single application.


This means that Global Talent applicants who only wish to come to the UK for 2 years in this category will not need to pay the maximum 5-year Immigration Health Surcharge payment. This means successful applicants will not be tied to their host institution, meaning no restrictions on their ability to move between roles and employers, provided the above rules were met at the outset.


Benefits of a job offer


A researcher and/or specialist who is offered a job at a UK university or research institution, and whose job title or name was included within an application for qualifying research funding as a directly incurred cost, will be automatically eligible for a Global Talent visa.


This allows the relevant institutions considerable freedom to recruit the researchers and specialists it needs via the medium of research grant funding, without day-to-day Home Office scrutiny.




There will still obviously be some hoops for applicants to jump through before they are considered. For example:


  • The person must be named or appointed to a role on a successful grant application from a recognised funder
  • The person must be employed, hosted or in receipt of a job offer from a UK university, independent research organisation or public sector research establishment
  • The research grant must have been awarded under the “peer review” principle
  • The minimum value of the grant must be £30,000 and must support a project of at least two years in duration
  • The person must have, or be given, a contract of at least two years in duration at the point of application for endorsement, and work at least 50% FTE

News for individuals currently under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa:


Applicants who already hold Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) leave and who wish to extend their leave, will be able to do so under the Global Talent category. As with initial applications, the extension requirements for Global Talent do not generally differ from Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent). The only exception to this is that the Rules do not specify exactly what documents must be supplied to demonstrate that an applicant meets the criteria. This allows a wider range of evidence to be supplied.


Settlement applications from Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Migrants will continue to be accepted, without the need for applicants to first switch into the Global Talent route.


Positive outlook


This seems to be a positive move both for the United Kingdom as a nation and for those who have worked hard to stand out in their respective fields. Like all new visa routes it will take some time to see the benefits, but as far as we can tell it is a step in the right direction and should hopefully attract some brilliant individuals to the country.


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