From this month, the Royal Academy of Engineering, together with the Royal Society and the British Academy (the other Designated Competent Bodies, DCBs, for science, engineering, social sciences and the humanities), is piloting an accelerated endorsement process for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa applications for the awardees of a set of prestigious UK-based fellowships and grants.

The Tier 1 visa route is designed to help bring the brightest and most talented individuals from outside the EEA to the UK. The route is open to those recognised as world leaders (Exceptional Talent) and those with the potential to be future leaders (Exceptional Promise) in their fields.

To obtain a visa, migrants currently apply to the Home Office to request an endorsement from the relevant DCB, which then assesses the application in a peer review process in order to advise the Home Office on the suitability of the candidate for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route. If an application passes the peer review process, the DCB will provide an endorsement.

The three DCBs have written to university Vice-Chancellors to alert them of the changes being piloted to the Tier 1 visa application endorsement process.

Shane McHugh, Head of International at the Royal Academy of Engineering said:

"The changes to the process will simplify arrangements for universities and researchers new to the UK, and should help the UK in the global race to attract and keep the best international science and engineering research talent."

The accelerated endorsement process means that non-EEA researchers who have been awarded certain specific fellowships or grants from the Wellcome Trust, RCUK or from one of the DCBs for science, engineering, social sciences and the humanities, will be guaranteed to receive an endorsement of their Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa from the relevant DCB, due to the rigorous peer review already conducted during the assessment of their application to the funding body.

Candidates will apply to the Home Office for the visa in the normal way, and endorsement will be guaranteed subject to providing the relevant evidence including confirmation of the fellowship or grant from the awarding body. The standard Home Office immigration checks when applying for entry clearance or leave to remain will still be required.

These changes have been developed in close consultation with the Wellcome Trust and RCUK.

The Director of the Wellcome Trust, Professor Jeremy Farrar, said:

"If we are to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in biomedical research, we must be able to attract the brightest minds to base their research here. We therefore welcome the introduction of this new process to accelerate the consideration of Tier 1 visa applications from outstanding international researchers who wish to carry out their work in the UK."

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of Research Councils UK' commented:

"We welcome the announcement by the Royal Society, British Academy and Royal Academy of Engineering, the Designated Competent Bodies, to pilot a streamlined endorsement process in order to make it easier for outstanding international researchers who have been awarded a Research Councils funded fellowship to obtain a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa. "

The Research Councils want to ensure that the individuals funded as fellows or future research leaders are equipped to be adaptable in an increasingly global research environment. We believe that the utilisation of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route will enhance our ability to attract outstanding researchers from around the world to work in the UK."

Notes for editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.

For more information please contact:

Giorgio De Faveri at the Royal Academy of Engineering 
Tel: 020 7766 0655
Email: Giorgio De Faveri

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