It was announced on 27 January 2020 that a new ‘Global Talent’ visa is being introduced from 20 February 2020. This will be a new fast-track immigration route within what was Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) and what will now be called Global Talent, which is aimed to attract the world’s top scientists, researchers and mathematicians. This new route will be intrinsically linked to the recruitment regimes of the higher education and research sector and will provide an unlimited right to work for up to five years.

What does this mean for the current Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route?

The existing ways of obtaining an Exceptional Talent visa will remain in place, albeit under the Global Talent route. These include:

  1. The “standard route” – where an academic, scientist or researcher can ask for a peer review of their career under the categories of ‘promise’ and ‘talent’;
  2. The “accelerated route” – for individuals with a job offer for a senior role at a UK university or research institution; and
  3. The “further accelerated route” – where the individual holds a prestigious grant or fellowship.

The Global Talent route will introduce a fourth route covering two types of employees at UK universities and research institutions: post-doctoral researchers and specialist technologist roles.

Automatic eligibility

The Global Talent route will make eligibility for a Global Talent visa automatic when a researcher or specialist technologist is recruited using certain UK research funding grants. A researcher and/or specialist who is offered a job at a UK university or research institution, and whose job title or name was included within an application for qualifying research funding as a directly incurred cost, will be automatically eligible for a Global Talent visa. 


There are some restrictions on who can apply under the Global Talent route, which include the following:

  • The individual must be named or appointed to a role on a successful grant application from a recognised funder. (The list of recognised funders will be administered by UK Research and Innovation);
  • The individual must be employed, hosted or in receipt of a job offer from a UK university, independent research organisation or public sector research establishment;
  • The research grant must have been awarded under the peer review principle;
  • The minimum value of the grant must be £30,000 and must support a project of at least two years in duration;
  • The individual must have, or be given, a contract of at least two years in duration at the point of application for endorsement and work at least 50% full-time equivalent hours.

Those granted entry under the Global Talent route will be granted a visa of up to five years with the ability to gain settlement after three years. Individuals will not be tied to their host institution; they will be able to move between roles and employers, provided the above rules were met at the time of their initial application. The welcome news is that there will be no cap on the number of people able to come to the UK under this route. Final details on the application process will be released shortly.