The Home Office announced last week that they will launch a new fast-track immigration offer for selected individuals with skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, building on the existing Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa route.
The aim of the expansion is to attract global talent in STEM subjects to come work in the UK and contribute to the science and research sector. The Home Office has indicated that it is re-branding the existing route to emphasise this objective.
What the route will involve?
Individuals will initially be issued with a three year visa and will be eligible for indefinite leave to remain at the end of the three years, giving them a permanent right to reside in the UK. They will be able to bring dependants (spouses and children) with them who will have full access to the labour market.
There will be no minimum salary threshold that the applicant will have to meet, and the status is not tied to a specific job – the individual will not have to secure a job offer before arriving in the UK.
Additionally, the route is available to all nationalities, and the Home Office has stated that the route will be launched regardless of the terms of the UK leaving the EU.
What is the Exceptional Talent visa and what will change?
The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is an existing visa route for applicants in a qualifying field who have been endorsed as an Exceptional Talent or with Exceptional Promise. Applications are reviewed by a designated competent body relating to the field. Individuals from a range of fields, including medicine, engineering, arts and culture, fashion, architecture, and film and television are currently eligible to apply.
The new fast-track route will expand the opportunities available for the STEM field. The Home Office will review the current criteria with the aim of widening to include individuals who are integral to scientific/research teams, and remove the requirement for those endorsed as Exceptional Promise to have been awarded a prestigious research fellowship. It will also open up the route to those who have received European research funding, and importantly, will uncap the route to ensure that those with the required skill-set will be able to secure places.
This announcement is part of the Government’s larger objective to boost the UK Technology industry on a global scale.