From 10 January 2019, architects will be able to apply for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas for £608, which could grant them up to five years in the UK.
The move is expected to make it easier for European architects with “outstanding talent” to work in the UK once it is no longer part of the EU.
“Visas will make it easier for practices to recruit”
“The UK is home to a vibrant architecture sector that boasts internationally-recognised, world class talents like Amanda Levete and Renzo Piano,” said the government minister for creative industries, Margot James.
“Our creative industries are a vital part of the economy, now worth over £100 billion. We are determined to do everything to support the sector and these new visas will make it easier for practices to recruit the talent they need to succeed into the future.”
Levete had previously warned the government that uncertainty over Brexit was risking a major shortfall in UK’s pool of creative talent. The architect said she was considering partially relocating her practice to Paris as a result.
Applicants need to demonstrate talent or promise
The Home Office worked with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and Arts Council England (ACE) to develop the bespoke immigration route for architects.
Applicants have two options under the new scheme.
The “exceptional talent” route is for architects who can prove they are internationally recognised leaders in their field, with a history of winning awards. They would be able to to apply to settle permanently in the UK after three years.
Those applying through the “exceptional promise” route need to demonstrate a track record of potential to become leaders in their field. They will be able to apply for permanent residency after five years.
Architects should “seriously consider” this route
The government has increased the annual number of Tier 1 visas handed out from 1,000 to 2,000 this year, with 250 reserved for those working in arts and culture, the category that includes architects.
The Tier 1 visas will provide greater flexibility for architects to work, run their own practice or be self-employed in the UK.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes claims the change will “bolster the UK’s already global reputation for innovative architectural design”.
“The UK’s architecture sector brings significant benefits to our economy and society,” she said.
RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance said the move 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.”
In October, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and David Chipperfield joined over 1,000 architects who signed an open letter to the UK prime minister Theresa Mat warning that Brexit would be “devastating” to the architecture profession.
Conservative MPs have triggered a vote of no confidence in the UK Prime Minister tonight, which May has warned risks delaying Brexit.
There are fears that, if the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal, then the automatic mutual recognition of architecture qualifications between the country and the remaining member states would stop.
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