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Academic Careers

New U.K. Visas for Exceptional Talent

Between 9 August 2011 and 31 March 2012, the United Kingdom intends to give as many as 1000 visas to “exceptionally talented leaders in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts,” in a new visa category: Tier 1 (Exceptional talent). The announcement was made by the UK Border Agency on 20 July.

The news came amidst a major overhaul of the U.K. visa system that also includes new, stricter rules for student visas. Under the new Tier 1 scheme, visas will be given upon recommendation by national professional bodies such as the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Academy for the humanities and social sciences, and Arts Council England. Sponsorship by an employer will not be necessary, and the visas will be granted to “not only those who have already been recognised but also those with the potential to be recognised as leaders in their respective fields,” the UK Border Agency stated.

Tier 1 (Exceptional talent)-visa holders will be able to stay in the U.K. for up to 3 years and 4 months, a duration that can be extended by another 2 years. Visa holders will then be given the opportunity to settle in the United Kingdom following 5 years of residency.

“The government has listened to the science community’s concerns about jeopardising our international leadership by restricting the immigration of scientists,” Royal Society President Paul Nurse said in the same announcement. “The UK is a global leader in science because we can attract the best minds from around the world to work with our own home-grown talent.”

You can read the full announcement on the U.K. Border Agency Web site.