U.K. Opens New Visa Route for Foreign Scientists, But May Still Curtail Their Number

The United Kingdom has finally begun revealing some of the details of its new immigration policies, although the information provided yesterday has done little to satisfy anxious universities, which are worried that their ability to hire foreign scientists will be greatly impeded.

In a statement to the House of Commons, the U.K.’s home secretary, Theresa May, described a new annual limit on the number of immigrants allowed from non-European Union countries. It will be set at 21,700—that’s a reduction from 28,000, which was the number of non-E.U. people who entered in 2009 under the immigration pathways known as skilled (Tier 2) and highly-skilled (Tier 1) workers. The government’s policy will include an amendment to Tier 1 that lets in 1000 of the 21,700 people under a new “exceptional talent” scheme; the government said this will apply to scientists, academics, and artists, although May provided no details on how people would qualify.

The new immigration plans will allow “Britain to remain competitive in the international jobs market, while ensuring migrant labor is not used as a substitute for those already looking for work in the U.K.”, May told members of the House of Commons.

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