Visas

If you are 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 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 will need and what is required of you.

Our Human Resources teams can offer guidance and assistance with visa applications for those employed by and visiting the University.

 

Do you need a visa?

You can enter and work in the UK without a visa if you are an overseas national from one of the following categories:

  • British citizen;
  • National of the European Economic Area (EEA) except Croatia;
  • Swiss national;
  • Commonwealth citizens, given 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);
  • Overseas nationals given leave to enter and remain in the UK under Tier 1 of the Points-Based System;
  • Individuals with indefinite leave to remain;
  • Individuals who hold an unexpired Tier 1 (general), Tier 1 (exceptional talent), Tier 1 (post-study worker) or Tier 4 (doctorate extension scheme);
  • The dependent, husband, wife or civil partner of a UK or EEA national or an individual who has an existing right to work in the UK (dependant or EEA family member visa);
  • A student with a (Tier 4) visa which entitles them to work on a part-time basis.  This is limited to a maximum of 20 hours per week during term-time;
  • A holder of a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

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.

If you are a national from the EEA, which includes all EU states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, or a Swiss national, or a Commonwealth citizen with UK ancestry, visit the EU, EEA and Commonwealth section to find out more about living and working in the UK.

Note that, although Croatia is a member of the EEA, Croatian nationals do not have the right to work in the UK without restriction.  Work must be authorised before commencing employment and you may need to apply for a registration certificate. You can find out more information at Working in the UK as a Croatian National.

If you are a national from countries outside the EEA, you will need a visa to take up employment in the UK.  For more information, please visit Work Visas.

If you are a Turkish national and have legally worked in the UK for at least one year, you may benefit from a European agreement with Turkey.  To find the latest information, please visit Turkish Worker Visa.

To establish whether you need a visa, please visit the Government website and complete the interactive questionnaire.

 

Points based system

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

You will 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 will need a certificate of sponsorship.

As a licensed sponsor, the University of Leeds can issue ‘certificates of sponsorship’ (CoS) to employees.

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

 

Tier 1 – Exceptional Talent

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent is a visa route is for world leaders and emerging leaders in the fields of Science, Humanities, Engineering, Medicine, Digital Technology and the Arts.  You must be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

Tier 1 visas are not job-specific, you can freely move between institutions, locations, jobs and collaborations in the UK, as such you do not require sponsorship from the University.

Applying for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is a two-stage process:

  • Stage one: you will 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: you will need to apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, under of the points-based system, within three months of receiving your endorsement.

You will need to apply for directly to UKVI via the Governments UK Visa Application web page.  You can find full application guidance on the Governments Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa web page.

 

Tier 2 – General

Tier 2 General is a visa route is for migrants who have been offered a skilled job, requiring at least a first degree and have received sponsorship. You must also be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

If you have been offered a job at the University and need the right to work in the UK this is usually the most suitable visa route.

Applying for a Tier 2 General visa is a two-stage process:

  • Stage one: application for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the University. You will be issued with a CoS by our Human Resources Team.

Note that this does not give you the right to work in the UK, but it enables you to submit an application for a visa. The decision on whether to issue a visa is not made by the University, but by the UK Visas and Immigration. We cannot guarantee that a visa will be issued.

  • Stage two: you will need to apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, under of the points-based system.

Note that you will be required to take up the post within 12 months after the job advert was released.

You can apply on the Governments UK Visa Application web page, unless you are a Croatian national, then you must apply for a Purple Registration Certificate. You can find full application guidance on the Governments Tier 2 (General) Visa web page.

 

Tier 5 – Government Authorised Exchange

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchanged (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, such as sponsored researchers. This category is not used to fill job vacancies or to bring unskilled labour to the UK.

If you are a sponsored researcher at the University of Leeds, you will normally be employed and paid by another University and will not receive a salary from Leeds.

Applying for a Tier 5 GAE visa is a two-stage process:

  • Stage one: application for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the University. You will be issued with a CoS by our Human Resources Team.

Note that this does not give you the right to work in the UK, but it enables you to submit an application for a visa. The decision on whether to issue a visa is not made by the University, but by the UK Visas and Immigration. We cannot guarantee that a visa will be issued.

  • Stage two: you will need to apply for a Tier 5 (GAE) visa, under of the points-based system.

You can apply on the Governments UK Visa Application web page. You can find full application guidance on the Governments Tier 5 (GAE) Visa web page.

Applying for a visa can take time, so it’s important to apply well in advance of when you intend to travel, so please do check visa processing times in your country.

 

Academic visitors

The Academic Visitors visa route is for those who wish to visit the UK for a maximum of 12 months to undertake ‘academic’ activities.  Individuals must be well qualified within their own field of expertise and be able to produce evidence that they have been working as an academic in an institution of higher education overseas, or in the field of their academic expertise, immediately prior to applying.

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

  • On sabbatical leave from a Higher Education Institute (HEI) to carry out 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;
  • Be an eminent senior doctor or dentist taking part in research, teaching or clinical practice.

Depending on your country of origin, you may not need to obtain an academic visitor visa but rather an invitation from the University of Leeds.  Academic visitors will not be employed the University of Leeds.

You can apply on the Governments UK Visa Application web page. You can find full application guidance on the Governments Visitor Visa web page.

 

Police registrations

If you are from one of the following countries and your stay is for longer than six months, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requires you to register with the police following your arrival in the UK:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yemen.

If you need to register with the police, you must register within seven days of arriving in the UK.  To register you will need to take the following to your nearest police station:

  • Your passport;
  • Two passport-sized photographs;
  • Registration fee of £34 (2017);
  • A completed ‘Foreign National Registration’ form;
  • Your contract of employment/invite letter from the University.

Registration is strictly by appointment only. You cannot register without first having arranged an appointment.

You can find a Foreign National Registration Form on the West Yorkshire Police website where you will also find more information about the registration process and your nearest police station.

 

EEA residence card

If you are an EEA or Swiss national, you can apply for a registration certificate.  This is a document which confirms your right of residence in the UK under European law.

Under European law, you do not need to obtain documentation confirming your right of residence in the UK if you are a national of a country in the EEA.  However, if you want to support an application for a residence card by any of your family members who are not EEA nationals, you must demonstrate that you are residing in the UK in accordance with the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 and are ‘exercising Treaty rights’ in the UK.

 

Leeds and Brexit

The University is keeping its staff informed about the impact of the Referendum held in June 2016 via a dedicated web page, including the latest updates from the Government and other interested parties.

If you would like advice about your immigration status, please email relocate.

 

Financial support

If you are a new or current international member of staff who requires a Tier 2 to allow you to live and work in the UK while working at the University of Leeds we may be able to help with the cost of your visa.  You can find further information on our Visa Reimbursement Scheme web page.

If you are a new or current international member of staff who requires support to cover the cost of applications to secure a legal right to work in the UK for you and your dependents, we might be able to help with an interest-free loan. You can find further information on our Interest Free Loan web page.