Two leading British academics were presented with 10-year multiple-entry R visas at China's Embassy in the UK on Tuesday. The R visas were introduced by China's government earlier this year in an effort to attract more overseas talent.

The recipients of the R visas are Dale Sanders, director of Norwich-based research facility the John Innes Centre, and Sushanta Kumar Bhattacharyya, founder of the Warwick Manufacturing Group, an academic department at the University of Warwick.Sanders, a distinguished researcher in metabolic biology, said the R visa will make it easier for him to visit China. The John Innes Center established new collaborations with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2014, and as director of the institute Sanders frequently travels to China.

"Applying for a visa each time I go to China means a lot of paperwork and that my passport disappears for a while. With the R visa, I don't need to apply for a visa for another 10 years. I feel extremely honored to be one of the first people to get the visa, and to know that the research collaboration is so valued by the UK and Chinese governments," Sanders explained. 

Aimed at drawing in more foreign professionals and high-skilled workers, the R visas can be issued for periods of five or 10 years, and allow multiple entries of up to 180 days for each entry. The spouse and young children of R visa holders will also be able to visit under the same visa category.  Liu Xiaoming, China's Ambassador to the UK, said the R visas will encourage more British talent to work with partners in China, and further promote Sino-UK collaborations in scientific research.