This site is in beta mode while we add the remaining policies. To feedback or help, please get in touch!
In Progress
Enable leading scientists from around the world to work in the UK

We will […] enable leading scientists from around the world to work here.

Our Verdict

International scientists are essential to the UK science sector, with two-fifths of the UK’s academic workforce in science, technology and engineering being overseas nationals. Currently, EU scientists do not need a visa to work in the UK, but non-EU scientists have to undertake a rigorous and often slow application process which is among the most expensive in the world. After Brexit, it is feared the UK will suffer from a shortage of top scientists, as EU applicants will have to undergo the same application process as those from non-EU countries.

Alongside the government’s promise to increase the number of scientists working in the UK, this policy specifically aims to enable “leading scientists from around the world” to work in the UK.

In August 2019 the Prime Minister announced plans to launch a new “fast-track visa route” for top scientists applying to work in the UK, with the anticipated launch date in late 2019. The government said they intend to work with universities to develop the system. Possible options for encouraging scientists to move to the UK include:

  • the removal of the need to hold an offer of employment before arriving
  • abolishing the cap on numbers under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas
  • accelerated paths to settlement

However, they have not yet defined who will be eligible to apply, when it will be available or how much it will cost, leading some to criticise the plans. Some scientists are also concerned that the changes will not be enough to counteract the damage to the sector anticipated due to Brexit.

While the government has demonstrated an inclination to fulfil this pledge with their announcement of a visa overhaul, it is yet to take actions we can evaluate in detail. But some work has been done, so we are marking this as ‘in progress’. We’ll need to see the fast-track system working, and assess whether it addresses the concerns expressed, before we consider moving this to ‘done’. Follow this policy for updates.

Want more? Try these…

Related policies

There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we track policies, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why or submit an edit.

Get involved!

Whether you are for or against this policy or just want to know more, it's never been easier to get involved and have your say. Try these for starters…

Join the discussion On this page, or Twitter, or Facebook. Democracy is better shared!
Follow this policy We'll send you email alerts every time something interesting happens.
Ask your MP Ask your MP to help you support or block this policy - write to them here.
Get the facts Sense about Science and Full Fact are great for evidence and fact checking.
Get ahead! The Simple Politics newsletter breaks it all down for you - before it happens!