New Scheme for Overseas Researchers to Come to the UK

New UKRI UK visa scheme for researchers

The UK is known for promoting and attracting great talent. This will continue to be the case, with the launch of new open-entry visas for overseas scientists and researchers to encourage the growth of the country’s research sector.

From 6th July 2018, a new avenue has been opened for researchers, scientists and academics to come to the UK for up to 2 years; the new UKRI Science, Research and Academia scheme for non-EEA nationals.

The scheme is a new addition to the existing Tier 5 temporary worker visa route. The scheme will be operated by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). UKRI – along with 12 approved research organisations in the UK – will be able to directly sponsor highly-skilled individuals to train and work in the UK. These approved organisations include the National History Museum, National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

How the scheme will operate

Organisations sponsoring these researchers will be monitored by the UKRI as the scheme owner. They will be required to obtain individual Tier 5 sponsor licenses.

Through this visa route, only non-EEA nationals who wish to undertake training and work experience in the UK can come to the UK. Individuals entering the UK will be allowed to stay for up to 2 years.

The responsibility to monitor the activity of the scheme on a continuous basis – along with the UKRI – has been given to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This is to ensure that the criteria is met for a Tier 5 scheme.

This initiative shows that the UK government is committed to make the country an open, dynamic and globally-focussed nation. The scheme can also be seen in the light of recent reforms to UK visa systems, such as doubling the number of visas available on the Exceptional Talent visa route to 2,000 per year, replacing the Tier 1 graduate entreprenuer visa with the new start-up visa route (increasing the number of people who can apply to launch a new business in the UK beyond graduates endorsed by higher education institutions, and removing doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 cap.

Sponsored researchers – such as scientists, research engineers and academics – will be able to give lectures (assuming that the time taken to do so does not amount to a formal teaching post) and work as examiners. They can also offer skill development, undertake knowledge transfer initiatives, offer a period of work-based training (including work experience, internships and placements) and work on collaborative research.

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