Many UK funding opportunities are open to international researchers and research team members.
If you’re not based in the UK or you need a visa to stay, you may still be able to apply for funding to work on a research project in the UK.
You could be eligible:
- for individual funding – for example, a fellowship
- as part of a research team applying for a grant.
Eligibility is different for each funding opportunity. For example, for some grants the principal investigator must be based in the UK – but you could be part of the bid as a co-investigator or another team member.
Search the Funding finder to find out if you’re eligible for opportunities from UKRI.
If you get funding, you’ll usually need a visa before you can start your research project or fellowship in the UK.
EEA or Swiss nationals
From 1 January 2021, EEA or Swiss nationals need to apply for a visa to do research in the UK. This is a straightforward process for many researchers and academics.
You will no longer be able to come to the UK to do research under freedom of movement rules.
Get a Global Talent visa to do research in the UK
If you’re an international researcher, you’ll need a visa before you start your fellowship or research project in the UK.
It’s quicker and easier to apply for a Global Talent visa if both the following are confirmed:
- your research has funding – either a grant or fellowship from UKRI or another approved funder
- you’ll be based at a UK research organisation.
If you’re not already part of funded research, you can still apply for a Global Talent visa.
You can apply for a Global Talent visa from outside the UK, or you can switch to this visa if you’re already in the UK. Check if you’re eligible to switch on GOV.UK.
If you already have a fellowship
Your application will be fast-tracked if you have a fellowship on the approved list.
This list is approved by the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering and British Academy – but it includes UKRI fellowships offered by UKRI.
Find out how to apply as a fellow on GOV.UK.
If you’re already part of a funded research project
Your application will be endorsed by UKRI and fast-tracked if you’re part of a research grant awarded by either:
- UKRI or one of its councils
- a funder endorsed by UKRI.
UKRI can endorse you if you (or your role) was named on the grant application. This can be as the principal investigator, co-investigator or other role at graduate level or above. For example, you could be a post-doctoral researcher, research assistant or specialist.
The organisation employing or hosting you in the UK must be approved by UKRI.
Before you apply, you’ll need a copy of the grant award letter. It must confirm that the grant:
- is for at least £30,000 in total
- lasts at least two years.
If your project has already started, and there’s less than two years left, you can still be endorsed by UKRI.
You’ll also need a dated letter from the director of human resources at the organisation hosting your research project.
The letter must be on the organisation’s letterhead and confirm:
- your role and department in the organisation
- you’ve accepted the grant
- you’re essential to the grant and you’ll be spending at least half your time on it
- there’s at least two years left on your employment contract with the organisation.
Find out how to apply with UKRI endorsement on GOV.UK.
If you’re part of coronavirus research
You can apply for a Global Talent visa under relaxed criteria until 31 January 2021 if you’re part of a coronavirus research project. Find out more about the visa requirements for COVID-19 research projects.
If you’re not part of funded research
You could still be eligible for a Global Talent visa if you don’t have a fellowship or a role on a funded research project.
Check GOV.UK to find out if you’re eligible to apply for a Global Talent visa – this can be:
- fast-tracked because you have a job offer as an eligible academic or researcher
- endorsed by peer review if you’re a researcher but you’re not eligible any other way
- based your work in arts and culture or digital technology.
If you’re not eligible for a Global Talent visa, there are other ways to work in the UK.
If you need more information
Email us if you have questions about getting a Global Talent visa to work on research in the UK.
Last updated: 5 January 2021