RIBA welcomes breakthrough in its Brexit lobbying to protect profession
The Home Office is to create a new bespoke visa category which will allow UK practices to retain and recruit architects of “exceptional” talent.
The news, announced today, was welcomed by the RIBA which said it had been working behind the scenes with the government to get the initiative approved.
The institute has repeatedly said that expected barriers to immigration once Britain leaves the EU were a major threat to the profession.
A fifth of architects in the UK are from the EU and last week the RIBA’s chief executive Alan Vallance warned many had considered leaving Britain because of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit – “an outcome which will cause unilateral harm to the sector”, he said.
The news means that from January 10 architects will be able to apply for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas.
These will enable “outstandingly talented” architects to come to the UK without being subject to many of the restrictions of the current work visa regime.
If successful they will be granted up to five years in the UK, which can be extended, and will have significantly more flexibility to work, run their own business or be self-employed.
The RIBA will work with Arts Council England to assess and endorse applications.
Chief executive Alan Vallance said: “This is a significant recognition of the UK’s place as a global hub for architectural excellence.
“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.”
Previously Tier 1 visas were mainly aimed at entrepreneurs and investors.
How the new Tier 1 ‘exceptional talent’ architect visas will work
Tier 1 visas will enable outstanding architectural talent to come to the UK without being subject to many of the restrictions of the current work visa regime. Successful applicants will be granted up to five years in the UK, which can be extended, and will have significantly more flexibility to work, run their own business or be self-employed. They will also be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK after three years if endorsed under ‘Talent’ criteria, or five years if endorsed under ‘Promise’.
There are two options available under the visa – for applicants who demonstrate Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise. Applicants of Exceptional Talent will have established themselves as leaders in their field, with an established track record of producing award-winning or internationally-recognised architecture of outstanding quality. Applicants of Exceptional Promise will have a developing track record and the potential to become a leader in the field and may have been shortlisted for an internationally-recognised architecture prize previously.
Earlier this year the government increased the annual number of Tier 1 visas on offer from 1,000 to 2,000 – with 250 reserved for applicants in arts and culture (including architecture) and 1,000 open to applicants from any participating sector. Applications for the visa will cost up to £608 – less than the cost of most Tier 2 work visas.