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Visas for architects with ‘exceptional talent’ announced by Home Office

Border visa shutterstock 609397571

Ministers have launched a new way for highly rated architects from overseas to secure the right to work in the UK

The Home Office announced it had added architecture to the list of creative professions eligible for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas.

Due to come into effect on 10 January 2019, this change to the official Immigration Rules will allow successful applicants from abroad to stay in the UK for up to five years and four months.

First they will have to pass an RIBA assessment, proving they have established themselves as an ‘internationally recognised expert within the field of architecture’.

The bar for passing this assessment is set high in the amended legislation, requiring ticks in two out of three boxes. These are:

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

The government will also be issuing ‘exceptional promise’ visas to those with the potential to become ‘a leader in the field’. Slightly reduced requirements are in place for the ‘promise’ visa.

Just 2,000 Tier 1 visas will be available in the 12 months from April 2019, to be shared across all eligible professions. Successful applicants can apply to settle permanently in the UK after three years if endorsed under ‘talent’ criteria, or five years if endorsed for ‘promise’.

The endorsement alone will cost £456, with the total fee coming to £608 for most applicants.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said the rule change would ‘bolster the UK’s already global reputation for innovative architectural design’.

‘I am committed to having an immigration system which ensures we attract the best talent the world has to offer so our businesses and industries can grow,’ she added. ‘We look forward to working with the RIBA to ensure the UK’s architecture sector can go from strength to strength.’

RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance said the addition of architecture to Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas was ‘a significant recognition of the UK’s place as a global hub for architectural excellence’.

He continued: ‘It is critical that the architecture sector can attract international talent, and we hope that architects across the world will seriously consider looking at applying to work in the UK on this route. We are delighted to have worked with the UK government and Arts Council England to bring the Tier 1 visa to the architecture sector.’

But Invisible Studio founder Piers Taylor – who earlier this year sent an open letter to prime minister Theresa May over Brexit – described the latest immigration change as ’meaningless’.

’It’s one size fits all, it will corporatise the industry, and in any case allows far too few overseas architects to enter,’ he said.

Compared to the current system it’s a disaster

’Compared to the current system it’s a disaster. The best thing that ever happened to the UK was freedom of movement and immigration. We should fight to retain what we have, rather than being grateful for the pathetic crumbs dished out by this inept government.’

Earlier this year Vallance described as ‘disappointing’ a government-commissioned report concluding that individuals coming from the European Economic Area through the Tier 2 (general) route after Brexit should only be granted visas for jobs paying at least £30,000 per year – and that the visas should cost employers £1,000 each.



Readers' comments (5)

  • This initiative seems to provide an opportunity for those who do not need it, while providing no solution for the needs of the vast proportion of practices.

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  • Is more evidence to the incompetence and irrelevance of the RIBA needed????

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  • This is just hilarious! I think UK officials are gravely overestimating the appeal of working in the UK as an architect.

    Surely someone with international awards, significant media coverage and exhibitions could work wherever they are already working now...

    2000 visas? That could barely cover 1/10 of the foreign architects working in London.

    Just another nail in the coffin of an industry that is already haemorrhaging qualified professionals.

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  • Awful awful awful stuff. Totally simplistic and embarrassing stuff.

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  • I'm with Piers on this one.

    It gives nothing for the idea that a little known foreign architect could make a success and a name for themselves within the UK.

    It smacks to me as a cynical political move to avoid the potential for bad publicity from a highly regarded international professional being refused a visa - all the while restricting the freedoms of the rest of us.

    If the elite are free to go about their business, then we can all pretend everything is rosy. What a warming Christmas message.

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