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Work visa criteria relaxed for COVID-19 researchers


Work visa criteria relaxed for COVID-19 researchers

Researchers working on COVID-19 can now benefit from a relaxation of immigration rules to ensure they are able to work in the UK.

The new rules will ensure crucial world-leading coronavirus research projects in the UK can attract and retain the best scientists and researchers.

Put in place by the Home Office, the rules amend a visa route managed by UKRI. Talented and promising researchers are eligible to apply to work through Global Talent visas. They replaced Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) visas on 20 February 2020.

Until 31 January 2021, academics and researchers wishing to work on COVID-19 related grants can apply for a Global Talent Visa under relaxed criteria. The changed criteria are:

  • Research grants must have been awarded for at least 12 months or more (normally 2 years or more)
  • Researchers must have an employment contract or hosting agreement for 12 months or more (normally 2 years or more)
  • Applicants who are already in the UK can switch into this route from any other visa category

Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, said:

“The UK has a world leading research base which has always been dependent on the influx of talent. Attracting the very best international researchers and scientists has never been more important to support vital Covid-19 related research projects. This relaxation of immigration rules will ensure they are able to work in the UK.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Ottoline Leyser, said:

“It is vital that research projects aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic are able to attract and retain the outstanding researchers and innovators they need for success. This announcement shows the government’s continued commitment to supporting the global endeavour to understand and fight the pandemic.”

The application process for Global Talent visas remains unchanged, but applicants must be recruited to a research project that is related to COVID-19 and included on the UKCDR COVID-19 Research Project Tracker. If a researcher is working on a COVID-19 related project that is not on the project tracker they should contact UKRI’s Global Talent Visa team first.

More information is available on the UKRI website.

Government guidance can be found here: GOV.UK: Global Talent visa.

Find out more about how the Global Talent Visa can benefit your organisation
UKRI is running a free webinar for research offices, immigration and HR professionals in universities, academic institutes and other research organisations on Monday 14 September. Register your place.

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