Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

U.K. Doubles ‘Exceptional Talent’ Visas for Non-EU Residents

The U.K. doubled the number of visas available to highly skilled workers from outside the European Union as it sought to show that Britain remains open for business after Brexit.

Leaders in science, research, technology and the arts will also be able to apply for settled status in the U.K. after three years, immigration minister Brandon Lewis said in a written statement to Parliament on Thursday. Rules for entrepreneurs, international students and researchers will be made simpler.

Ministers are trying to alleviate the concerns of businesses, which fear losing access to key workers as Britain leaves the EU. Theresa May has said she wants to allow EU residents to remain in Britain after Brexit, but has yet to guarantee their status. The prime minister wants to be able to control the number of EU citizens entering Britain to work as she pursues her goal of reducing net migration to below 100,000 a year -- less than half the current level.

The U.K. will now issue 2,000 so-called Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) visas a year, up from 1,000 under previous rules, Lewis said. The visas are available to immigrants from outside the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. EU nationals are free to live and work in the U.K. while Britain remains a member of the bloc.

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