The Home Office launched a visa scheme for exceptional architects today as the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) argues UK immigration legislation needs a drastic overhaul post-Brexit to safeguard the £4.8bn industry.
From today architects will be able to apply for Tier 1 (exceptional talent) visas – the first bespoke immigration category available for architects.
Roger Gherson, of immigration law firm Gherson, said the introduction of the scheme was a “step in the right direction” but said it would only “apply to a limited number of people”.
Research by Riba published today showed 86 per cent of architects think that access to international skills and talents is key to the future of the sector which is worth £4.8bn to the UK economy.
The research showed almost half of EU architects in the UK have considered leaving as a result of the Brexit referendum and there was a 42 per cent drop in new architects registering in the UK since 2016.
Riba warned that architecture could face a severe talent gap with EU architects required to apply for Tier 2 visas, for which only five per cent of applications were accepted between November 2017 and April 2018.
In its report, Riba made a number of recommendations, including lifting the cap on the number of available Tier 2 visas and making immigration a joint responsibility between the Home Office and the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with a minister for immigration attending cabinet.
RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance said: “Without drastic reform, the UK risks turning inwards and cutting itself off from the world. In addition to the recommendations laid out in our report, we are calling on politicians to be open about the benefits of migration to our society – it is vital to the success of not just our businesses, but the places and spaces that architects create for our communities.”