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London 18:00, 04 Sep 2011

UK opens its doors to exceptionally talented migrants

09 August 2011

The UK government starts accepting visa applications from today under the new ‘Exceptional Talent’ route.
A woman wearing protective googles examining liquid in a conical jar.

The new ‘Exceptional Talent’ route has been launched to encourage exceptionally talented leaders in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts to come to the UK.

This new route, for up to 1,000 exceptionally talented migrants, will facilitate not only those who have already been recognised but also those with the potential to be recognised as leaders in their respective fields.

It will be overseen by world renowned ‘competent bodies’ that will advise the UK Border Agency on these ‘exceptionally talented’ migrants to ensure they are the brightest and best in their field:

  • The Royal Society, a fellowship of the world's most eminent scientists, will be able to nominate up to 300 places;
  • Arts Council England, the national development agency for the arts, will also be able to nominate up to 300 places;
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, Britain’s national academy for engineering, will have up to 200 places to nominate; and,
  • The British Academy, the national academy for the humanities and social sciences will be able to nominate up to 200 places.

UK Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

"The UK is a global leader in science, humanities and engineering and we are a cultural centre for the arts: we will continue to welcome those who have the most to offer and contribute to our society and economy.

"Our new exceptional talent route, available for up 1000 applicants, will ensure that we continue to attract the brightest into the UK and keep the UK a global leader.

"This comes at a time of major reform of the immigration system to bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands, tackle abuses and make sure that the immigration system meets the needs of the country.”

Migrants seeking entry under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category will not need to be sponsored by an employer but will need to be recommended by one of the competent bodies.

Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Alan Davey said:

"We welcome the launch of this special visa scheme which will enable the very best artists of international standing to live and work in the UK.

“The international exchange of artists enriches their art, and I’m sure audiences will welcome the opportunity to experience the finest artistic talent from across the world.”

It will be for each competent body to select those who will qualify for recommendation and we have published the criteria for their endorsement.  

The President of the British Academy, Sir Adam Roberts said;

“The Humanities and Social Sciences are flourishing in the UK and attract many excellent scholars from overseas.  

“The British Academy is ready to play its part in identifying those outstanding scholars for whom Tier 1 is the appropriate visa category.’’

While the UK government has allotted a number of places to each body it will be open to the bodies to transfer additional places to those with more demand if this becomes necessary.

President of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse said:

“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.  

“The government has listened to the science community’s concerns about jeopardising our international leadership by restricting the immigration of scientists and the Royal Society will play its part in ensuring that the very best international talent can continue to come to the UK to work.”

Those admitted under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category will initially be granted three years and four months leave. They will be able to extend their stay for a further two years and settlement may be available after five years’ residence in the UK.

President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Sir John Parker FREng said;

"In order to safeguard the UK's future competitiveness, we must ensure that it remains an attractive destination for world class engineers.

“I am confident that this new visa route will help to encourage global excellence to come to the UK."

Further information

  1. Full details of the new exceptional talent route can be found on the UKBA website.
  2. The UK Home Secretary announced on 23 November 2010 a number of changes to immigration policy in respect of Tiers 1 and Two of the points-based system, designed to deliver the government's commitment to place a limit on non-EU economic migration to the UK.
  3. The annual limit is 21,700 of which employers will be able to bring 20,700 people from outside the EU to work in skilled professions under 'Tier Two'. The further 1,000 visas will be available through the new exceptional talent route.


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