Visas

If you’re planning to move to the UK as a University employee, you may have to apply for a visa.

Immigration and entry into the UK is managed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and is dependent on individual circumstances. Regulations are subject to change at short notice and you should check the UKVI website for the most up-to-date information.

The guidance below aims to give you a brief overview of how the UK visa system works, which kind of visa you’ll need and what’s required of you.

Our Human Resources teams can offer information on visa applications for those employed by and visiting the University. Please note though that we’re not immigration advisors, so we can’t legally advise you on the specifics of your visa application.

 

Do you need a visa?

To enter, study, work and live in the UK you’ll need to:

  • be a British citizen;
  • be a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland;
  • be a Commonwealth citizen with leave to enter and remain in the UK on the basis that a grandparent was born here (i.e. those with a valid UK Ancestry Visa);
  • have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK;
  • hold a valid Points Based System visa;
  • have leave to enter/remain in the UK as a dependant family member (spouse, civil partner or child) of a UK or EEA national, or a Points Based System visa holder

Some forms of British nationality require permission to live and work in the UK.  These include British Overseas citizens, British Overseas Territories citizens, British Nationals (overseas), British Protected Persons and British Subjects.  There may be an entitlement to register as a British citizen in certain circumstances.

Unfortunately if you have a right to work status in another European country, this does not allow you to work in the UK.

Government websites

If you’re an EEA or Swiss national, or a Commonwealth citizen with UK ancestry: EU, EEA and Commonwealth

If you’re a national from a country outside the EEA: Work Visas

If you’re a Turkish national and have legally worked in the UK for at least a year: Turkish Worker Visa

To establish whether you need a visa, please visit the Government website and complete the interactive questionnaire.  If the result is that you don’t need a visa, this may mean that you don’t need to apply in advance, you can request entry at the UK border.

 

Points based system for those needing a visa

The UK’s visa application process uses a Points Based System (PBS).  If you want to work in the UK you’ll need to apply for a visa under the correct ‘tier’ of the PBS.

You’ll need a certain number of points depending on which visa you apply for.  Points are awarded for different attributes such as qualifications and earnings, and in the majority of cases, you’ll need a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).

The University’s an ‘A rated’ licensed sponsor and, when we apply for a CoS, we’re confirming to UKVI that the job, and the person we’re appointing, meet the criteria for the particular visa type.

The tiers applicable to the University of Leeds are listed below.

 

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent/Promise)

This visa route’s aimed at academics who are recognised world leaders (exceptional talent) or emerging world leaders (exceptional promise) in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology and arts & culture.

Tier 1 visas aren’t job-specific, you can freely move between institutions, locations, jobs and collaborations in the UK and so you don’t need sponsorship from the University.

Applying for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent/Promise) visa is a two-stage process:

  • Stage one: you’ll need to apply to be endorsed by one of the Designated Competent Bodies who have been given authority by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to determine who meets the visa criteria.
  • Stage two: once you’ve been endorsed, you’ll have up to 3 months to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent/Promise) visa.

You’ll find full details on eligibility and the application process on the government’s Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa web page.

 

Tier 2 (General)

Tier 2 (General) is the visa route for those who’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK. If you’ve been offered a job at grade 7 or above at the University and you don’t think you’d be eligible for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent/Promise) visa, then Tier 2 is the best alternative.

There are two stages to getting a Tier 2 visa:

  • Stage one: the University applies for Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) which is our confirmation to UKVI that we, you and the job meet the Tier 2 eligibility criteria

We’ll send this to you once we receive it from UKVI to enable you to apply for your visa. However, the CoS doesn’t give you the right to work in the UK, nor does it guarantee your visa application will be granted. The decision on whether to issue a visa isn’t made by the University, but by UKVI. We’re unfortunately not able to guarantee that your visa application will be successful.

  • Stage two: you apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa within 3 months of receiving the CoS from the University.

Full application guidance is on the Government’s Tier 2 (General) Visa web page.

 

Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) is a visa route is for those wishing to come to the UK on a temporary basis, for up to 24 months, through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience, and best practice, and to experience the social and cultural life of the UK. This visa route can’t be used to fill job vacancies or to bring unskilled labour to the UK and, at the University, is normally used for researchers who have financial sponsorship.

There are two stages to getting a Tier 5 (GAE) visa:

  • Stage one: the University applies for Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) which is our confirmation to UKVI that we, you and the role meet the relevant eligibility criteria

We’ll send this to you once we receive it from UKVI to enable you to apply for your visa. However, the CoS doesn’t give you the right to work in the UK, nor does it guarantee your visa application will be granted. The decision on whether to issue a visa isn’t made by the University, but by UKVI. We’re unfortunately not able to guarantee that your visa application will be successful.

  • Stage two: you apply for a Tier 5 (GAE) visa within 3 months of receiving the CoS from the University.

Information and guidance is available on the government’s Tier 5 (GAE) Visa web page.

 

Academic visitors

The Standard Visitor (‘academic visit’) visa route is for those who are highly qualified in their field of expertise, and currently employed in a teaching and/or research role in that field at an academic or higher education institution overseas.

Note: an academic visitor visa is not suitable for all international academics visiting the University.

To apply for UK visa as an academic visitor you must be an academic who’s either:

  • on sabbatical leave from a Higher Education Institute (HEI) to carry out private research; or
  • taking part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts; or
  • coming to share knowledge or experience, or hold informal discussions with their UK counterparts; or
  • taking part in a single conference or seminar that is not a commercial or non-profit venture; or
  • an eminent senior doctor or dentist taking part in research, teaching or clinical practice.

The University isn’t able to employ or pay you, and collaboration with University staff on research isn’t permitted under this visa type; a Tier 5 (GAE) visa may be more appropriate.

You’ll need a letter of invitation from the department which you should submit with your visa application.

Guidance on what you can and can’t do on this visa type, eligibility and how to apply is available on the government’s Visitor Visa web page.

 

Business visitors

The Standard Visitor (‘business visit’) visa is aimed at people coming to the UK for short events such as a conference or interview, to give a one-off or short series of talks or to take part in a sporting or arts event.

The University isn’t able to employ or pay you, and you’ll need a letter of invitation from the department you’re visiting.

Guidance on what you can and can’t do on this visa type, eligibility and how to apply is available on the government’s Visitor Visa web page.

 

Police registration

Nationals of some countries are required to register with the police on arrival in the UK. If your nationality is on the list and your stay is for longer than six months, you’ll need to register within 7 days of arriving in the UK (or, if you’re already in the UK and you’ve extended your stay, within 7 days of receiving your Biometric Residence Permit).

If you’ll be living in or around Leeds, the West Yorkshire Police website tells you what to do and when. You’ll need to complete an online form and attend an appointment. The appointment system is very busy and it can take a while to get an appointment but don’t worry as this won’t stop you living and working, and travelling in and out of the UK.

 

Financial support

If you’re a new or existing University employee who’s applying for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) or Tier 2 (General) visa, or Indefinite Leave to Remain, to allow you to live and work in the UK, we may be able to help with the cost of your visa.  You can find further information on our Immigration Reimbursement Scheme web page.

We also run an Interest Free Loan Scheme for costs associated with your application such as the NHS surcharge and fees for biometrics (if you’re coming to the UK for longer than 6 months, you’ll need to attend an appointment to have your fingerprints and face scanned so a Biometric Residence Permit can be issued to you). The Scheme also covers the cost of visa applications for your family (or for yourself if you need a Points Based System dependant visa).