'Powered by People: Building a Post-Brexit Immigration System for UK Architecture' is the result of detailed research and interviews with international architects living in the UK. It gives the most complete picture to date of the sector's international workforce, and sets out what is needed to ensure the immigration system supports rather than damages the UK’s vital architecture sector.
Last year RIBA held four roundtables across the country with international architects and surveyed over 600 non-UK nationals working in the sector to learn more about their experiences working in the UK and their views on how the future immigration system can best support the sector to continue benefitting from international talent.
1 in 4 architects working in the UK are non-UK nationals; 80% of international architects are from the EU. Many architects come to the UK as students or recent graduates, seeking to build their careers in Britain; it is vital that the future immigration system protects this pipeline of skilled talent is vital in a sector where graduate salaries, especially outside of London and in smaller practices, often fall below the £30,000 currently required for a Tier 2 work visa.
Just 5% of Tier 2 visa applications made in the sector were accepted between November 2017 and April 2018; the system is long overdue for reform. A new approach to immigration is also needed, with a 42% drop in new EU architects registering to practice in the UK since 2016 and two thirds of international architects saying they had considered leaving the UK due to Brexit.
In response to the issues raised in this report, the RIBA is urging the government to:
- End the annual cap on Tier 2 visas
- Introduce regional flexibility in visa minimum salary thresholds
- Streamline the application and administration process within the system, including abolishing the Resident Labour Market Test
- Abolish the Immigration Skills Charge for high-skilled roles
- Introduce a two-year post study work visa for international graduates
- Ensure that the immigration system provides workers the flexibility to work and travel abroad