December 23, 2019 / 11:41 AM / a month ago

UK widens fast-track visa plan for scientists as Brexit nears

FILE PHOTO: Pro-Brexit protesters hold placards outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, December 20, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Monday it would increase the number of scientists and researchers eligible for fast-track visas, part of the government’s plans to attract more elite researchers after Brexit.

The number of eligible fellowships which offer accelerated endorsement for visas will rise to more than 120 from 62, the interior ministry said.

“We want to make sure the UK continues to be at the forefront of innovation, so we need an immigration system that attracts the sharpest minds from around the globe,” interior minister Priti Patel said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who won approval for his Brexit deal in parliament last week, made a pledge in August to relax immigration rules for scientists to help Britain address its skills shortages. [nL8N2547R7]

Britain is due to leave the European Union on Jan. 31 although it will immediately begin an 11-month, no-change transition period with the bloc.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by William Schomberg

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