On 20th July the UK government announced the creation of a new points-based immigration category designed to attract the brightest and the best workers to the UK. The new Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category will open on August 2011, with up to 1,000 visas available in the first year for outstanding talents in the fields of science, engineering and the humanities.
Following closure of the Tier 1 (General) category to new applicants, industry has expressed concern regarding the damage to the economy that may result if businesses are not able to access the most talented individuals globally. The new category is far more restricted than the former Tier 1 (General) however it goes some way to address these concerns.
As with other Tier 1 categories, migrants do not require a UK based sponsoring employer in order to make an application, however they must obtain the endorsement of one of the “competent bodies” designated by the government, the Royal Society, Arts Council England, Royal Academy of Engineering and the British Academy.
Each of these bodies will be allocated a proportion of the overall 1,000 quota for the first year to endorse applicants a either internationally recognised as leaders in their field or as individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional promise and are likely to become leaders in their field.