Faster visa endorsement will support international mobility for top researchers

The Wellcome Trust and Research Councils UK are collaborating with the Royal Society, the British Academy and the Royal Academy of Engineering to pilot a streamlined endorsement process to make it easier for outstanding international researchers to obtain Tier 1 Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise visas.

Under the new process, the Royal Society, British Academy and Royal Academy of Engineering - the three designated ‘competent bodies’ - will guarantee that visa applications from researchers who have been awarded senior- and intermediate-level fellowships and Investigator Awards by the Wellcome Trust will be endorsed. Once endorsed, the researcher can then proceed to stage 2 of the process and apply to the Home Office for the visa.

This visa route is designed for the brightest and best in the fields of natural science, humanities, social sciences, engineering and the arts, bringing them from outside the European Economic Area to the UK, and is open both to those who have already been recognised as world leaders (Exceptional Talent) and to those with the potential to be future leaders (Exceptional Promise) in their fields.

Professor Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "If we are to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in biomedical research, we must be able to attract the brightest minds to base their research here. We therefore welcome the introduction of this new process to accelerate the consideration of Tier 1 visa applications from outstanding international researchers who wish to carry out their work in the UK."

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of Research Councils UK, said: "We welcome the announcement by the Royal Society, British Academy and Royal Academy of Engineering, the Designated Competent Bodies, to pilot a streamlined endorsement process in order to make it easier for outstanding international researchers who have been awarded a Research Councils funded fellowship to obtain a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa."

The three competent bodies have written to Vice Chancellors outlining changes to the process that they hope will be in the interests of the science, engineering and humanities community.

Notes for editors

For further information on which Wellcome Trust fellowships and awards are eligible for the accelerated process, please email tierone@wellcome.ac.uk.

For more information about the competent bodies, visit the Royal Society website.

About the Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.