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.
The Staff Immigration team and our Human Resources colleagues can offer information on visa applications for those employed by and visiting the University. Please note though that we are not immigration advisers, so we cannot legally advise you on the specifics of your visa application.
* 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.
If you are an EEA or Swiss citizen, or a Commonwealth citizen with UK ancestry: EU, EEA and Commonwealth
If you are a citizen of a country outside the EEA/Switzerland, or if: Work Visas
If you are 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 complete the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) interactive questionnaire. If the result is that you do not need a visa, this may mean that you do not need to apply in advance, you can request entry at the UK border.
IMPORTANT: if you enter the UK through Passport eGates without having applied for a visa in advance, you will be classed as a visitor and your activities while you are in the UK will be strictly limited – this includes not being able to be employed (whether paid or unpaid).
The UK’s visa application process uses a Points Based System (PBS). If you want to work in the UK you will need to apply an appropriate visa.
You will need to accrue a certain number of points, depending on which visa you apply for. Points are awarded for different attributes such as qualifications and earnings and you may need a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the University. The University’s an ‘A rated’ licensed sponsor and, when we apply for a CoS, we are confirming to UKVI that the job, and the person we are appointing, meet the criteria for the particular visa type.
The most commonly used visa types for employment by the University of Leeds are listed below.
This visa route has replaced Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) and is aimed at talented and promising individuals in specific sectors wishing to work in the UK. Applying is a two-stage process:
Full details on eligibility and the application process is available on the endorsing body websites (see links above) and on the UK government’s Global Talent Visa web pages.
This visa route has replaced Tier 2 (General) for those who have been offered a skilled job in the UK. If you have accepted a job at grade 5 or above on the University’s pay scale, you may be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa. Eligibility is determined by a number of factors including salary, skill level and your personal circumstances.
There are two stages to getting a Skilled Worker visa:
Stage 1: the University applies for Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) which is our confirmation to UKVI that we, you and the job meet the Skilled Worker eligibility criteria.
We can request a CoS up to 3 months before your work start date, and we will send this to you once UKVI have granted our request to enable you to apply for your visa. The CoS itself does not 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 is not made by the University, but by UKVI. We are unfortunately not able to guarantee that your visa application will be successful.
Stage 2: you apply for a Skilled Worker visa within 3 months of receiving the CoS from the University.
Full guidance is on the UK Government’s Skilled Worker Visa web pages.
This 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 cannot 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 Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) visa:
Stage 1: the University applies for Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) which is our confirmation to UKVI that we, you and the job meet the eligibility criteria.
We can request a CoS up to 3 months before your start date, and we will send this to you once UKVI have granted our request to enable you to apply for your visa. The CoS itself does not 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 is not made by the University, but by UKVI. We are unfortunately not able to guarantee that your visa application will be successful.
Stage 2: you apply for a visa within 3 months of receiving the CoS from the University.
Information and guidance is available on the government’s Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) web page.
The Standard Visitor 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.
The University is not able to employ or pay you, and the main purpose of your visit cannot be collaboration with University staff on research. You will need a letter of invitation from the department which you should submit with your visa application.
Note: an academic visitor visa is not suitable for all international academics visiting the University. Please speak to your School/Institute/Department contact before applying for a visa to check which route is appropriate for the activity you will be undertaking in the UK.
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 will 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 will be living in or around Leeds, the West Yorkshire Police website tells you what to do and when. You will 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 do not worry as this will not stop you living and working, and travelling in and out of the UK.
If you are a new or existing University employee who is applying for a Global Talent or Skilled Worker 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 are coming to the UK for longer than 6 months, you may need to attend an appointment to have your fingerprints and face scanned so a Biometric Residence Permit can be issued to you). The loan scheme also covers the cost of visa applications for your family (or for yourself if you need a Points Based System dependent visa).