UK science and immigration: why the UK needs an internationally competitive visa offer

18 July 2019

***Update*** In 2021, the Royal Society commissioned Fragomen LLP to update its 2019 analysis of upfront immigration costs in the UK and other leading science nations. Read the summary (PDF).

The UK must choose an approach to immigration that enhances our science base and drives our economy, jobs and international competitiveness. If the talent goes elsewhere, it will be the UK’s loss. 

  • The costs of obtaining a UK visa for study or work should be in line with our international competitors.
  • Applicant and sponsor costs that are calculated on a ‘per year’ basis should be spread over the duration of the visa rather than payable in full upfront
  • The cost of bringing family members should be minimised in line with international standards
  • The UK should seek visa-free study and work arrangements with other countries to reduce the sponsorship burden on employers
  • Continued improvements should be made to visa processing times as part of the UK’s plans for the future immigration system
  • Visa extensions should be light touch and fast

This explainer shows that current UK visa arrangements are among the most expensive in the world for migrants and sponsors.

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This page was last updated on 23 January 2023