MI6 is recruiting foreign-born spies for the first time in a bid to increase diversity among its secret agents.
The Secret Intelligence Service hopes to recruit from the ‘biggest talent pool’ and curate a team with a ‘diversification of thought, a diverse workforce, not people who all think in similar ways’, an insider told The Times.
Potential spies will no longer need to be born in the UK in order to apply to MI6, but they are still required to hold British citizenship.
A Whitehall source said: ‘The rules around the employment of dual nationals have changed recently so you can now have been born a foreign national and then have come to the UK.
MI6 is recruiting foreign-born spies for the first time in a bid to increase diversity among its secret agents. Pictured: The Secret Intelligence Service building in Vauxhall, London
‘This is about giving us access to the biggest talent pool. If you narrow the criteria to a British national you will end up with lots of people who are British and educated at red-brick universities.
‘We want a diversification of thought, a diverse workforce, not people who all think in similar ways.’
Despite the changes, dual citizens may be asked to give up their additional citizenship in order to take up some roles.
They also must have one parent who is or was a British citizen or with ‘substantial ties’ to the UK in order to be eligible to apply.
Under old rules abolished in May 2018, recruits were required to have two British-born parents.
MI6 has also recently moved to ease its eligibility rules, including scrapping the upper age limit of 55. In 2020, they also cut the minimum employment age from 21 to 18 as the service sought to attract younger recruits with technology skills.
A recruitment ad campaign in 2018 sought to encourage more women and ethnic minority candidates to apply for roles, as well as older people.
WHO CAN JOIN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES ABROAD?
Hopefuls looking to work for the DGSE must be French citizens,
To join the Federal Intelligence Service, which is Germany’s foreign intelligence service, recruits are required to have German citizenship.
Dual citizens are also permitted to apply.
Potential CIA recruits must also hold US citizenship or dual citizenship.
It comes after MI6 last month put out a call to recruit a new army of ‘part-time’ spooks looking for adventure.
The UK’s foreign intelligence service, which is portrayed in the James Bond films, was looking to boost recruitment by signing up Brits ‘looking to spice up their otherwise dull life’.
The series of ads, reported in The Daily Star, sought to appeal to people with disabilities and ‘consultants’ with valuable contacts in Russia or China.
The initiative is thought to be the brainchild of the new head of MI6 Richard Moore, known as C for Controller. In the Bond films, the head of the service is known as ‘M’.
One of the ads, placed in a magazine, says MI6 is seeking people with ‘diverse skill sets and life experiences for part-time and consulting roles.’
It adds that the spying hopefuls will be considered ‘highly desirable individuals’ if they have expertise in ‘their chosen field’.
In particular, the ad names ‘foreign nationals’ and applicants from overseas and Mr Moore spoke of encouraging diversity.
The spy chief, whose wife is blind, is keen for people with disabilities to bring their expertise to the service.
Contacts, ideally in Russia and China, are also reportedly highly valued and sought after.
One source said: ‘MI6 is basically saying to anyone fed up with their country’s regime that they can work for British intelligence part-time.’
The source also boasted about the glamorous and exciting elements of the job.
‘They would travel on business or holiday. That will be very attractive for a corporate executive looking to spice up an otherwise dull life.’