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New ‘exceptional talent’ visa for architects

11 December 2018

Today (11 December 2018) RIBA and the Home Office announced that from 10 January 2019, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise) visa will be available to applicants from architecture, with RIBA playing a role in assessing applications made under the scheme. This follows a year of work with partners in government to secure a new route for highly-skilled architects to come to the UK – a significant opportunity for the UK to attract the best and brightest international talent in architecture.

This visa is designed for those who have been endorsed in their field as a recognised leader (exceptional talent) or an emerging leader (exceptional promise), with evidence of either a developing or an established track record of producing work of outstanding quality. It offers these exceptional talents the freedom to come to the UK to work, run their own business or be self-employed with fewer conditions than a normal work visa. The Tier 1 visa has helped encourage world-leading talents in diverse fields – from the arts to science and technology – to base themselves in the UK and has seen those sectors benefit greatly from their contribution.

International talent has been vital to making the UK a world-renowned hub for architectural excellence – more than one in five architects working in Britain today was born elsewhere in the world, and their contribution has greatly enriched and enhanced the practice of British architecture as a whole. Of the 30 projects shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize over the last five years, two in five project lead architects were from outside the UK.

As our President, Ben Derbyshire, said in his remarks to the Architects Council of Europe last month, our profession relies and thrives upon the exchange of ideas, experience and people around the world, and encouraging this collaboration through the Tier 1 visa will be a virtuous circle from which British architecture will see significant benefits.

Whilst the RIBA is pleased to take on this new role and open up this opportunity for our profession, we recognise that the criteria for this visa are exacting. We are continuing to make the case to Government for a new immigration system that protects access to talent and safeguard the ability of practices to seek the skills they need from around the world at every level. In 2017 we hosted the Migration Advisory Committee for a roundtable with RIBA members on the sector’s needs and we will shortly be publishing new, detailed research on immigration with recommendations to Government on how the new immigration system can support the sector.

You can read more about Tier 1 visas in architecture and guidance on the assessment criteria, RIBA’s role and how to apply here.

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