LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will begin fast-tracking visas for leading scientists and researchers next month once it has left the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.
Britain will leave the EU on Friday, drawing a line under years of debate about whether the country will be better off outside the bloc, and beginning the process of redefining its economy, its national priorities and its place in the world.
"As we leave the EU I want to send a message that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world, and stand ready to support them to turn their ideas into reality," Johnson said in a statement announcing the new scheme.
From Feb. 20, scientists and researchers will be able to get their visa applications speeded up if they have been endorsed by one of four national bodies. There is no cap on the number of these 'Global Talent' visas.
The changes announced on Monday were flagged during the late 2019 election campaign and replace a similar system which mostly applied to non-EU nationals, and which was limited to 2,000 visas per year.
Johnson's government has already outlined broader immigration reforms, expected to be set out in legislation in the coming months. The points-based system will seek to limit the rights of low-skilled workers to settle in Britain while trying to provide industry with the skilled workers they need.
(Reporting by William James, editing by Elizabeth Piper)