In the announcement, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he will ask the Home Office and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to work closely with the scientific community to help facilitate a new fast-track visa option.
According to the government, the route will “attract elite researchers and specialists in science, engineering and technology, from math Olympiads at the very start of their careers to winners of internationally recognised prizes and fellowships”.
Johnson described plans to abolish the cap on numbers under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas, removing the need for an offer of employment before coming to the UK and ensuring dependents have full access to the labour market.
The new immigration proposals have been welcomed by the pharma industry, despite ongoing doubt growing concerns about the potential of a no-deal Brexit.
“Bringing the brightest and best scientists to the UK, as well as nurturing our own home-grown talent, will be critical to our future success in researching and developing medicines,” said Andrew Croydon, head of Skills and Education at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). “The government’s proposals to attract more scientists to the UK are a step in the right direction,” he added.
With an additional £2 billion set aside by the government for a no-deal Brexit this month, it is becoming increasingly likely that the UK will leave the EU without a deal on the 31 October. In such a scenario, the supply of medicines would be a huge concern and thus the industry has been urging the government to make provisions to avoid shortages or delays. Beyond short-term concerns, there are also worries about the future relationship between the UK and the EU in the case of a no-deal Brexit.