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Government to open doors for more top architects to work in UK

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The government says it will encourage more top architects to emigrate to the UK by lifting a cap on the ’exceptional talent’ visa route

In January, architecture was added to a list of professions eligible for the Tier 1 visas, meaning a select handful of non-UK architects can stay in the UK for more than five years if they meet stringent criteria.

Recipients of Tier 1 visas have full access to any jobs, do not have to line up employment before coming to the UK and are given an accelerated path to settlement. 

But the visa allocation is shared across professions including doctors and engineers, and only 2,000 Tier 1 visas had been due to be handed out in the 12 months after April 2019. 

Now the government has said it will lift the cap and publish new criteria which will give applicants automatic endorsement if met. 

The government, which laid out the proposal as part of a 150-page policy document accompanying the Queen’s Speech, has also said it will broaden the pool of universities and research institutes able to specifically endorse a candidate. 

Architects wanting a Tier 1 visa currently have to pass two out of the following three standards to win an endorsement from the RIBA: 

  • Significant media coverage in more than one country
  • Winning an international award
  • Demonstrating an audience through exhibitions or appearances across borders

The government does, however, issue some of the 2,000 visas to those with ‘exceptional promise’ who are destined to become ‘a leader in the field’. Slightly reduced requirements are in place for the ‘promise’ visa.

In July, architects were also added to the UK’s migration priority list to tackle an acute skills gap in the profession.

That decision followed a review by the Migrant Advisory Committee (MAC) which called for architects to be put on the official Shortage Occupation List (SOL) because there were not enough British or EU applicants to fill posts.

A Home Office spokesperson said further details on the Tier 1 visas would be announced in the New Year. 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • John Kellett

    Why? There are loads of UK architects who have either left the profession or who are under employed and/or underpaid. We do not need additional architects, we just need to use the ones we’ve got more and efficiently with tools like BIM.

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  • The gov may drop the mutual recognition of qualification out of the brexit deal in which case many EU architect would no longer be architect in the UK.

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