Author: Peter Walker Political correspondent
Oscar winners, Nobel prize recipients and Brit award-garlanded overseas musicians are among foreign nationals who will be fast-tracked for UK visas under a tweak to immigration rules announced by the Home Office.
The list of qualifying awards is hugely prestigious, meaning anyone who uses the new scheme would almost certainly have succeeded in getting a visa via the existing “global talent” route, introduced in 2020. For scientists, it covers Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry or medicine, and the Fyssen international prize, while for mathematics, just the Fields medal is listed. People from computing, engineering and social science have a handful of eligible gongs.
Literature appears potentially the toughest route, with only the Nobel prize accepted – not even the Booker. There are routes for the visual arts, fashion, architecture and dance.
For film, TV and theatre, only some categories are deemed worthy of the fast track. For example, the only eligible Oscars are for acting in a leading – not supporting – role, cinematography, directing or writing, with the list not covering any technical categories. Similarly, winners of the Tony award for best choreography are eligible; those for best set design are not.
For music, possible routes include a best international male or female award at the Brits, best international act at the Mobo awards, or a Grammy for lifetime achievement.
In another initiative intended in part to mark the UK’s continued move towards a post-Brexit immigration system, the Home Office unveiled a new work visa system for young Indian nationals, based on an existing scheme for Australians, Canadians and others.
The arts and science scheme is a streamlining of the global talent visa route, which allows prominent people in areas including science, engineering and mathematics, as well as the arts and academia, to live and work in the UK for five-year periods. Under the scheme, applicants need endorsement from one of six professional bodies, including the Arts Council and Royal Academy.
The new fast-track method would allow a designated set of prize winners to apply directly. The Home Office said it had worked with the six bodies to draw up the list, which would be kept under review.
The announcement appears unlikely to assuage the wider concerns of many people in the theatre and music industries about post-Brexit red tape for creative industries, which has made working in the EU notably more difficult.
In a separate immigration announcement, connected to a wider series of links with India sealed by a virtual meeting on Tuesday between Boris Johnson and the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, young nationals from both countries will have the reciprocal right to live and work in each other’s countries for up to two years.
Aimed at people aged 18-30, the initiative will be based on the existing Youth Mobility Scheme, which allows young people from nine countries and territories, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong, to live and work in the UK for up to two years.
The immigration agreement is also aimed at boosting measures to deport Indian nationals who are not permitted to stay in the UK, and the same for Britons in India.