With effect from 20 February 2020, the UK's new Global Talent visa will be open for applicants.  

The Government has described this as a "new fast-track visa scheme to attract the world's top scientists, researchers and mathematicians".

Despite the rhetoric, this is effectively a rebranding of the existing Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa - albeit with a few tweaks.

The tweaks include removing the cap on applications (which previously stood at 2000 per year) and introducing a new immigration route specifically for those being recruited in the higher education/research sector, for example some post doctoral researchers or some people working in specialist technical roles.

Under the new rules, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will be able to endorse applicants from the scientific and research community.

This change also coincides with the government investing up to £300 million for research into advanced mathematics; it is claimed that this will double the funding for new PHDs and boost the number of maths fellowships and research projects.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said “The UK has a proud history of scientific discovery, but to lead the field and face the challenges of the future we need to continue to invest in talent and cutting edge research”. 

However, not everyone is convinced. Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Christine Jardine, considers it to be a “marketing gimmick” with Boris Johnson “showing that he fundamentally doesn’t understand what makes our science sector so successful. Changing the name of a visa and removing a cap that’s never been hit is not a serious plan”.

The Government will no doubt be mindful that their latest immigration reforms have hardly sent a convincing message that UK plc is open for business, given the disastrous new innovator and start up visas, which replaced the old Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.   Launched in March 2019, there were only 4 applications for innovator visas and 32 for start up visas in the first three months. 

Whilst the new Global Talent route will no doubt be a welcome additional visa route for the higher education sector, how far this will address the challenges posed by the end of free movement remains to be seen.  Only time will tell how successful this new route will be.