The UK government has today announced how it will encourage exceptionally talented leaders in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts to come to the UK with a Tier 1 exceptional talented.

The new Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category will open on 9 August 2011. This new category 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. There is a limit of 1,000 places in the first year of operation. There will be 500 places available between the 9 August and 30 November and a further 500 places available from the 1 December to 31 March 2012. The number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent places will be reviewed at the end of March 2012.

Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) will be overseen by world-renowned ‘competent bodies’, which will advise the UK Border Agency on these ‘exceptionally talented’ migrants to ensure that 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.

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 to 1,000 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 to the UK under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) will not need to be sponsored by an employer, but will need to be recommended by one of the competent bodies.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, 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 also 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.’

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