British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced his plan to transform Britain into a “supercharged magnet” which would attract the best and brightest scientists from around the world. This follows a landslide victory in the UK general election where the Conservatives won 364 out of 650 seats. With overwhelming support from the British electorate will the government be able to transform the current immigration system and how will they do it?
What immigration policy are in the manifesto?
In the lead up to the general election the Conservative party released their manifesto which pledged an overall reduction in the total number of immigrants coming to the UK. However, the manifesto also maintains the importance of opening routes for those who make the “biggest contribution” to British society.
The most central shift in British immigration policy is the ending of free movement with the European Union. This has raised concerns with a number of industries which are heavily reliant on EU labour.
The government have defended its policy by maintaining that they will continue to attract highly skilled labourers, international talent and high net worth individuals as oppose to low-skilled labourers.
How will the government attract talent?
Fast Track Visas
Priti Patel, Britain’s Home Secretary, has announced that government will be doubling the number of fast-track visas available to international scientists. Currently scientists apply for a fellowship under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route which has thus far been capped to a limited number. Patel has stated that the number of fellowships available for scientists will increase from 62 to over 120. In addition, the government has announced that they will abolish the cap on Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas and will provide a fast-track to settlement for those on the scheme. The policy change is expected to be introduced in early 2020.
Whilst the expansion of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa has been met with applause from Britain’s scientific community there continues to be frustration with the ending of the free movement with the European Union. This is because of the growth of EU academics who have left their position at prestigious British institutions. In the year following the Brexit referendum (2016-2017) 4,280 European staff left their post compared to 3,865 who had left the previous year. This is a marked increase of 11 percent.
Post Study visa
The government have also pledged to introduce a new post-study visa which will permit international students a further two years leave. This decision is actually a reversal of Theresa May’s decision in 2012 as she had scrapped the original provision of leave for international students, describing it as “too generous”.
In their manifesto the Conservative party pledged to continue supporting “bespoke” visas which permit international talent to come and contribute to the UK. In particular interest is the UK innovator visa which permits foreign nationals to come to the UK with a business idea which proves to be “innovative, scalable and viable”. Whilst this need not be specifically in science and technology, there have been a number of visas granted for businesses which have brought innovation in tech. It is likely that the government will continue to support, and possibly expand, this programme.
Westkin Associates – Supporting Science and Innovation
Westkin Associates is a leading British immigration law firm with specialised immigration lawyers who have successfully supported exceptional talent, innovator and student visas.
We were among the first firms to be granted innovator and start-up visas when they were introduced and have supported technology companies bringing innovation to the UK.