London: The UK has launched new visas that will be open to overseas scientists and researchers, including Indians, to encourage the growth of the country's research sector. The new UKRI Science, Research and Academia scheme, which is being added to the already existing Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange) visa route, opened from July 6 for researchers, scientists and academics from outside the European Union (EU) to come to the UK for up to two years.
"The UK is a world leader in research and innovation and these changes will make it easier for international researchers to work and train in the UK," said UK immigration minister Caroline Nokes in a statement announcing the launch.
"We must have an immigration system that makes sure we can attract leading international talent and benefit from their knowledge and expertise. I recognise the crucial contribution science makes to the UK economy and society and I am determined that the UK will continue to welcome leading scientific and research talent from around the world," she said.
The scheme will be operated by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which brings together the country's seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England. It will mean that UKRI, along with 12 approved research organisations such as the Natural History Museum, will now be able to directly sponsor highly skilled individuals, such as specialist technicians, to work and train in the UK.
The sponsor organisations will be monitored by UKRI as the scheme owner and they will also require individual Tier 5 sponsor licences. "Research and innovation is inherently international, as are the unprecedented 21st century challenges we must address," said UKRI chief executive Professor Mark Walport.
"Global collaboration through the movement of talented people plays an essential role in meeting these challenges and this new scheme will provide further support for international researchers to work and train in the UK," Walport said.
The Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) is the principal visa route by which professionals from outside the European Economic Area who wish to undertake training and work experience are able to come to the UK.
The route allows individuals entering the UK through this scheme to stay for up to two years. The UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will monitor the activity of the scheme on a regular basis with UKRI, to provide assurance that it is meeting the criteria for a Tier 5 scheme, the Home Office said.
The UK government said the new scheme demonstrates its commitment to make the UK a "dynamic, open, globally-trading" nation. Some of the other reforms to the country's visa system in recent months have included removing doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 visa cap, allowing more Indian doctors among others to address staff shortages in the state-funded National Health Service (NHS).
A new Start-up visa route is set to replace the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route and widen the pool of candidates who can apply to launch a new business in the UK, beyond graduates endorsed by higher education institutions.
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