An immigration system that works for science and innovation Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Modifying the non-EEA immigration system

1.The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa offers a clear route into the UK for the very brightest and best from outside the EEA. We are concerned, however, that the eligibility criteria are too stringent and that, when combined with the focus on ‘exceptional talent’, this has led to the assumption that only potential Nobel Prize winners need apply. As a result, take up of the visa has been disappointing. (Paragraph 46)

2.We recommend that the Government works with the ‘Designated Competent Bodies’ to revise, and clarify, the eligibility criteria further for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa so that the pool of potential applicants is increased. The DCBs should be given the resources to ensure that this route is well-publicised and correctly pitched. The Government should also follow through on its plans to make it easier for members of established research teams to relocate to the UK, alongside their research leader. (Paragraph 47)

3.We recommend that the Government re-instates the Tier 1 (post-study work) visa route for graduates with a recognised degree from a UK higher education institution. (Paragraph 51)

4.If the Government is committed to maintaining the UK’s position as a science and innovation superpower, it is vital that it facilitates the movement of global talent to work and study in the UK, especially in fields where there are ongoing skills shortages. The removal of doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 visa cap is a welcome step in the right direction. We question, however, whether a cap on highly skilled labour is necessary at all. Removing the cap would reduce pressure on the system, lower the salary threshold and decrease the reliance on the shortage occupation list, which will inevitably lag behind the changing needs of the UK labour market. (Paragraph 54)

5.We recommend that the Government removes the cap on Tier 2 (General) visas, reduces the cost of applying for a visa and reviews the operation of the shortage occupation list. (Paragraph 55)

6.We welcome the pragmatism that the Government has shown regarding breaks in continuous residency, for the purposes of academic research, for those EU citizens applying for settled status. (Paragraph 56)

7.We recommend that the flexibility shown by the Government to the continuous residency requirements for settled status is also applied to those aiming to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Furthermore, a “research activity” exemption should be established for those who have needed to spend more than 180 days in any 12 months overseas for research purposes. (Paragraph 57)

Proposals for an immigration system

8.We recommend that the Government uses our immigration proposal as the basis for further, detailed work with the science and innovation community to ‘co-create’ an immigration policy; one that facilitates the global movement of talent into the UK and helps to ensure the UK maintains its world-class status in innovation, research and development. (Paragraph 66)

9.The Prime Minister has called for a “far-reaching science and innovation pact with the EU, facilitating the exchange of ideas and researchers”. We have recommended previously that agreeing such a pact should be an early priority for the Government in the Brexit negotiations. More recently, the Brexit White Paper described a science and innovation “accord”. Our proposals for an immigration system, after further development with the community, should be integrated into this wider accord on science and innovation, which should also cover:

Published: 19 July 2018