Government faces calls to relax UK visa rules for scientists

05 Mar 2018 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Campaigners have called on Prime Minister Theresa May to urgently launch a review into UK immigration policy with the aim of boosting international research and attracting new scientists from overseas.

Published by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), the letter has been supported by more than 40 universities and institutes and calls for changes to the current UK visa system.

According to the letter, restrictions within the current system mean that there are hundreds of vacancies within science, engineering and medicine that remain unfilled, undermining the country’s reputation in these fields.

Specifically, the campaigners are calling on the prime minister to make certain roles within these science and technology fields exempt from the UK Tier 2 work permit cap, which sets a limit to the number of skilled people allowed to travel from abroad to work within Britain.

Commenting on the letter, CaSE executive director Dr Sarah Main added that the removal of some of the roles on the Shortage Occupation List or requiring PhDs from the cap to ensure needs are met and pressure on the system is relieved.

“Surely it is shooting ourselves in the foot to deny visas to engineering, tech and medical specialists recruited to the UK to fill a specific need,” she commented. “Yet this is now happening, alongside many other business-critical roles, leaving employers frustrated and the public poorly served.”

The organisations that have registered their support for the letter include the Institute of Directors, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and University College London.