New Delhi: Ph.D researchers from India, who wish to work in the UK, have reason to cheer as they are now exempt from the annual visa cap for entry in that country.
The announcement was made by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond in his Spring Statement speech on Wednesday.
Currently, Ph.D level workers who apply for the Tier-2 work visa, have to contend with an annual cap which only allows 20,700 visas annually, leaving them with a slender chance of getting inside the UK. This will change when the new decision is implemented from autumn, beginning September, the Chancellor said.
".... (A) key pillar of our plan is backing Britain to remain at the forefront of the technology revolution that is transforming our economy.
"And to support that ambition, from this Autumn we will completely exempt PhD-level roles from the visa caps," Hammond said in his budget update speech.
The present visa cap was implemented in 2011 to check migration to the country. Over the years however, the cap has been viewed as counterproductive by policymakers, who feel it unduly deprives the country of useful, qualified workers from other nations.
The highest number of those applying under this visa category -- skilled worker visa -- are Indians. In fact, their number is more than the number of people migrating from rest of the countries combined.
The decision will also have a bearing on the non-Ph.D workers, who will benefit from the space freed by the Ph.D candidates, autumn onwards.
The present cap of 20,700 for this visa will stay till 2021, when it will be completely abolished, according to the UK government.
The news was welcomed by UK universities, who are key employers of international researchers.
"This is fantastic news for Indian researchers, who would like to work in the UK, and for UK universities -- who thrive on bringing together a diversity of brilliant minds from around the world.
"Many of the UK's leading researchers, in fields ranging from bio-mechanics to gender politics, come from India. Outside of Europe, India is the third largest country of origin for academic staff in the UK," Director of Universities International, Vivienne Stern, told IANS in an e-mail interaction.
The UK is likely to leave the European Union on March 29, as per the deadline set earlier. The country will follow the current set of rules in immigration till December 2020.
The UK government last year exempted nurses and doctors from the annual Tier-2 visa cap, after witnessing a surge in the numbers of these professionals applying to work in the UK.
"As recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee, we will not impose a cap on the numbers of skilled workers, to ensure the brightest and best who wish to come to the UK do so, and employers have access to the skills that add most value to the UK economy," the white paper, published last December, said on the post-Brexit policy on immigration.