On the 20th February 2020 the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa route was expanded and renamed as the Global Talent Visa.
The expansion of the route now makes provision for the science and research sector, whilst continuing to be open to talented and promising applicants within the digital technology and arts and culture (including those within film and television, fashion design and architecture).
There are two categories: Global Talent and Global Promise. ‘Talent’ applicants will already be leaders in their respective field, while ‘Promise’ applicants will be able to show the potential to become leaders in their field. The criteria for Global Promise includes proof of recognition for work outside the applicant’s immediate occupation that has contributed to the advancement of the sector.
Suitable applicants from the scientific and research community will be assessed and fast-tracked by a new endorsing body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), rather than the Home Office.
Global Talent visa applications can be made from outside the UK. Tier 4 students who have completed their studies and show potential to become leaders in their field can make an out of country application if they satisfy other criteria for Global Promise.
Applicants who were last granted leave under the points-based system Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) (sponsored in the government authorised exchange subcategory in an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers) or under the Start-up or Innovator categories may switch into the Global Talent category from within the UK.
So, what has changed?
Unlike its predecessor, the Global Talent Visa route will have no cap on the number of suitably qualified candidates able to come to the UK.
Applicants do not have to receive a minimum salary to be eligible and are not required to hold an offer of employment before arriving to the UK. They can move freely between organisations, locations, jobs and roles and can take on activities that are more difficult to undertake on other visas, such as collaborating with businesses.
There is an exemption from the absences rule for researchers and their dependents, who spend time outside the UK for research related purposes, ensuring they are not penalised when they apply for settlement.
Applicants can choose how much leave, in whole years, up to a maximum of 5 years they wish to be granted in a single application. This flexibility allows them to minimise their immigration health surcharge payment, where for example, they only wish to come to the UK for 2 years.
There is an accelerated path to settlement after a continuous period of 3 years in the UK if the last endorsement was given:
- under the “exceptional talent” criteria for any endorsing body
- under the “exceptional promise” criteria for the endorsing bodies for science, engineering and medicine
- under the UKRI “endorsed funder” fast track criteria
Those applying to enter or extend their stay under the Global Talent category do not need to satisfy an English language requirement, although having sufficient knowledge of the English language may be a requirement of the organisation that hosts or employs them.
Applicants do not need to satisfy a maintenance fund requirement.
What hasn’t changed?
Although the word ‘exceptional’ has been dropped, the visa route continues to be for ‘highly-skilled’ entrepreneurs and employees. Just as previously, the Global Talent visa should not be considered for general employment.
According to the Labour’s spokesperson for industrial strategy the new measures “suggest a lack of understanding of innovation, which depends on scientists, researchers, engineers and technicians at all levels and not just a few ‘top talent’.