“Attracting the brightest and the best”

When the UK’s current Government came into power they set out to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands. They proceeded to close in 2012 visa routes for students to remain in the UK to seek or take up employment without sponsorship. Subsequent statistics have shown that students who couldn’t secure sponsorship, as a result, left the UK for destinations such as USA or moved to another course of study. Despite these challenges the UK still remains the number one destination for post graduate students particularly in Science and Technology.

In a bid to maintain the Government’s pledge of ‘attracting the brightest and the best to the UK’, the Home Office announced the creation of a new fast-track visa route for scientists to come to the UK. At the same time, they also removed the limit on PHD students moving into the skilled work visa route. These changes collectively aim to reinforce the UK as a worldleader in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sector. A more recent announcement from the Home Secretary is a new ‘Graduate’ route which will be open to all international students who have successfully completed a course of study at an approved UK Higher Education Provider in the UK. The visa will allow eligible students to work, or look for work, in any career or position of their choice, for two years after completing their studies. The first students to be eligible for this route will be the intake of students to university in 2020. After the two years, they will be able to switch into the sponsored visa route or another eligible visa route provided they meet the requirements.

The addition, these routes aim to help UK businesses to recruit and retain the best and the brightest global talent, as well as creating opportunities for breakthroughs in sciences, technology and research. We expect to see many changes to UK immigration in the next couple of years with a full revamp of the immigration rules coming in January 2021. It is anticipated that most organisations will need to engage an immigration specialist at some point in the business process, therefore, making it a necessity in the future.

Imelda Reddington – Field Seymour Parkes LLP