The government will on February 20 launch a new “unlimited” fast-track visa scheme for scientists, researchers and mathematicians.
In a 10 Downing Street-led statement published late Monday, HMG promised to “preserve the route’s flexibility by not requiring an individual to hold an offer of employment before arriving or tying them to one specific job.”
In a welcome liberalisation of visa rules, the government also promised to provide an exemption from absences rules for researchers, and their dependants, where they are required overseas for work-related purposes, “ensuring they are not penalised when they apply for settlement.”
Academics say Theresa May’s hostile immigration policy has deterred academics and researchers from pursuing careers in the UK.
Among the cases recently covered by the press was that of Jennifer Wexler, a US citizen with a PhD from University College London, who has had continuous residence in the UK for the past 11 years. Her application for indefinite leave to remain was refused because she had spent too much time overseas. Dr Wrexler said that this was because she had been conducting archeological research that was “affiliated and sanctioned by UK institutions.”
UK Fast-Track Science Visas
Details on eligibility for the new UK fast-track science visas remains unclear (i.e. will it be for those with X amount of citations to their name?)
A government release added that the reforms coincide with government investment of up to £300 million to fund “experimental and imaginative mathematical sciences research by the very best global talent.”
A pool of “around £60 million funding” each year will double funding for new PhDs, as well as boost the number of maths fellowships and research projects.
“This funding will make sure the UK remains at the cutting edge of maths research, underpinning real-world technological developments, from smoother traffic flow, crime prevention, safer air travel, and smarter phone technology to the use of AI and creating greener energy systems,” it said.
The news comes as a report published today emphasised that losing the European Galileo GPS system as a result of Brexit is set to cost the UK £1 billion every day due to impact on sat nav, mobile apps and aircraft tech.
The Spaceport Case File by industry group “Stay in Cornwall” claims that the lack of GNSS will have “significant impacts on critical UK infrastructure, resulting in vulnerabilities in telco networks, compromised power distribution across the electric grid and access to cash from SWIFT-based ATMs”.
It urges further investment in the UK’s space sector, ahead of the opening of three spaceports which will begin satellite launches this year from Cornwall.