Scientists fear tough UK immigration rules will deter talent

Cost increases and restrictions on visa-holders bringing family members will put off researchers, warn scientists. Facebook Email The UK government is imposing new visa rules in a bid to curb immigration. New restrictions on UK visas are making the country unattractive to foreign scientists who want to work or study there, researchers say. In December, the UK government announced that it intends to increase the salary threshold for foreign nationals wishing to enter the United Kingdom on a skilled worker visa from £26,200 (US$33,200) to £38,700. The change hasn’t been implemented yet, but might affect postdoctoral researchers, whose salaries are often below the new cut-off. And this month, changes to UK student visas came into force meaning that new foreign undergraduates cannot bring family members with them. Other changes include increases in the cost of applying for a UK visa and of the health-care surcharge that migrants pay to access the UK National Health Service. The surcharge for adults will rise from £624 a year to £1,035 a year. “Salary-threshold increases, combined with the recent large increases in visa costs, create a real risk that the UK is seen as a less attractive place for the world’s brightest and best students and researchers,” says Daniel Rathbone, interim executive director of Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), a science-advocacy group in London. Brexit effect The changes are being implemented by a Conservative government that is focused on cutting immigration. The party also oversaw the vote for Brexit and its subsequent execution, which has made it harder for many international scientists to work in Britain and has prevented UK-based scientists from joining certain international collaborations. Many say that the changes have left the UK science community lagging behind. “Once you have frozen something, defrosting it does take a lot of time […]

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By Donato