Support for international colleagues

We’ve got lots of international colleagues in every area of the University and we're committed to their support, and to attracting and welcoming new staff from across the world.

We have a range of practical measures to support international colleagues on life in the UK and queries or concerns on immigration matters.

Support for your move to the UK

Our dedicated website for international staff, Relocate@Leeds, is full of useful information about the University and moving to/living in Leeds and the surrounding area, as well as practical information about UK life. You might also find our Joining the University pages useful for when you arrive.

Buddy scheme for international staff

We've introduced a 'buddy' scheme for new international colleagues to help their integration into UK, and University, life and culture. If you'd like to find out more information and get involved, please visit the Relocate@Leeds website.

Group legal briefing sessions

Led by Emma Brooksbank and her colleagues at Freeths Solicitors, these sessions are aimed at EEA staff (ie those who don’t need a visa to work in the UK) and focus on updates on Brexit progression. Check our Events page, the Events section of For Staff, staff notice boards, and the @UniLeedsStaff Twitter feed for dates and times.

You can download a copy of the slides used at Emma's most recent session below. 

Individual consultations with an external immigration adviser

If you want to discuss personal queries, including those related to residence or citizenship applications, you can book 20-30 minutes with Emma Brooksbank of Freeths Solicitors, who will spend a day at the University every two months. These meetings are open to all staff to book. Keep watching the same channels for further details about booking a consultation.

A list of planned group and individual sessions is available on the next page.

Preferential rates for legal advice from Freeths Solicitors

If, after attending a legal briefing session and an individual consultation, you need further advice you can contact an external lawyer for detailed advice which would be followed up in writing (though this would be at your own expense).  Of course you're free to contact any lawyer you choose, but we've negotiated preferential rates for University staff with Freeths Solicitors.

Help with applications

Freeths also provide help with visa/citizenship/Indefinite Leave to Remain/permanent residence applications, with services ranging from a simple document check to completing the application for you. Fees vary, but you can expect to pay £50-275 to have your documents checked before you submit them, and around £750 for a complete service. Contact them directly to ask for help.

Brexit email update service

Freeths have also introduced an email update service (to register for updates, follow the link and click "If you would like to receive any of our regular eBrochure publications, simply register here").

Financial support

If you’re a new or current member of staff applying for a Tier 2 visa (original application or extension), we can reimburse the cost of your visa. You can find further information about the reimbursement scheme here.

If you’re a new or current member of staff who wants to apply for the right to work in the UK for you and your dependants, we offer an interest free loan of up to £5,000 to help with the cost of application and legal fees. You'll find further information about the loan scheme here.

Evidence of employment and earnings

We’re happy to confirm the essential information needed for a permanent residence and/or citizenship application. Please contact the Central HR office (tel 0113 343 4146 or email

If you need evidence of earnings, you can request duplicate P60s or monthly pay information from Employee Self Service – log in with your Windows username and password then:

• For payslips, click on Benefits and Payment, then Salary Statement

• For P60s, click on Personal Information, then Personal Profile, and click the P60 tab


As well as the updates on Brexit that we’ll continue to provide on the For Staff website, EEA colleagues might find the Universities UK’s Brexit FAQ webpage useful. We'll update you on news from UK Visas and Immigration on our News page.

If you have any questions about any of above, or want HR support or advice, please contact your local HR hub.


We've engaged Freeths Solicitors to run both group and one-to-one meetings to advise colleagues on immigration matters.

Events in the current academic year are as follows:

Brexit update sessions aimed at EEA colleagues (ie who don't need a visa to live and work in the UK)

Date Time  Location
Wednesday 6 February 2019  11.00 - 12.30  LT 8 (9.08) Roger Stevens Building
Wednesday 10 April 2019  14.00 - 15.30  G.12 Clothworkers Building North 
Thursday 6 June 2019  10.00 - 11.30  4.12 Baines Wing 

Booking will be open soon for the February session.

One to one advice sessions for all international colleagues

Date Time Location
Monday 14 January 2019 10am to 4pm (30 min appointments) HR Meeting Room 1 (come to HR Reception on level 11 EC Stoner Building)
Wednesday 20 March 2019 10am to 4pm (30 min appointments) 11.14 EC Stoner Building (come to HR Reception on level 11)
Friday 24 May 2019 10am to 4pm (30 min appointments) 11.14 EC Stoner Building (come to HR Reception on level 11)
Wednesday 17 July 2019 10am to 4pm (30 min appointments) 11.14 EC Stoner Building (come to HR Reception on level 11)

Please contact Lisa Courtney in Human Resources to register your interest in a one-to-one meeting with Emma Brooksbank of Freeths Solicitors, including a short explanation of your query in your email.

You can also contact the Immigration team if you have any Brexit or general immigration questions.

Coffee Connections – come and build your community of friends in Leeds!

Coffee Connections is a chance for the partners and families of staff and students at the University to meet each other, make new friends and share ideas about how to make the most of living in Leeds. Monthly events take place in a relaxed environment over free tea, coffee and a selection of delicious cakes. Children are very welcome and there are plenty of toys to keep them busy.

For more information about events, you can join the mailing list or Facebook group.

The next Coffee Connections is yet to be confirmed. 


Keep up to date with changes in visa regulations and processes, and Brexit.

If you'd like to register to receive notification of updates on this page, please email


6 December 2018

The Home Office has circulated an email to everyone registered for their update service:

The UK Government:

- Confirms that if there is no deal, the EU Settlement Scheme will continue to be implemented, enabling EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by 29 March 2019 to secure their status and continue to be able to work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK on the same basis after we exit the EU as they do now. The scheme will be fully open by 30 March 2019 as planned.

- Confirms that the Home Office will continue to look to grant status rather than refuse and in line with the UK commitment to be more generous in certain respects than the draft Withdrawal Agreement, a person will not be refused status under the EU Settlement Scheme because, for example, they are not economically active or they do not hold comprehensive sickness insurance. 

There would be some changes to the EU Settlement Scheme if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and further details are set out in the policy document.  In particular, as there will be no agreed implementation period, the application deadline will be brought forward to 31 December 2020.

You do not need to do anything for now. The EU Settlement Scheme will be fully open by 30 March 2019.

20 November 2018

Emma Brooksbank of Freeths Solicitors ran a briefing on the EU settlement scheme on 19 November, and you can download her slides below. The full video/audio will be available on For Staff shortly.

In response to a query at the update about whether "your own email address" means a personal or work account, Emma received the following response from the Home Office:

"It doesn’t matter which email address an applicant uses to apply under the pilot. I would recommend they use their personal email address in case they move on from their current job. Also, their immigration status is theirs personally and in no way attached to their employment. They should use the same email address all the way through the application."

16 November 2018

Guidance has been produced/updated for EU nationals, and non-EU family members of EU nationals, who intend to apply for settled status during phase 2 of the EU settlement scheme pilot:

  • the guidance document now includes links to the "EU Exit: ID Document Check" app, ID document scanner locations and information on administrative reviews.
  • information on how to use the app have been released.

Visit the Brexit news archive page for older news

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

5 November 2018 - New process for visa applications made within the UK

If you're applying to extend your existing visa, or switch to a new immigration route, you may be offered an opportunity to use UKVI's new service which is run by their commercial partner, Sopra Steria. There'll be UK Visas and Citizenship Application Services (UKVACS) centres opening around the UK over the next couple of months where you'll be able to make an appointment to register your biometric information and submit supporting documents, in most cases electronically, so you won't need to send them to UKVI.

There are 6 centres offering free 'core' appointments (the nearest to Leeds will be in Manchester) and a further 50 'enhanced service' centres which will charge for appointments. The closest of these will be in Burnholme (York), Wakefield and Hull.

In addition to standard services, you'll also be able to pay for additional "added value services". Details of these services, and the schedule of centre openings, is here

Two important points to note:

  1. Use of this service is voluntary; if you prefer, you can use the Post Office for your biometrics, and submit your supporting information by post. 
  2. The new Visa Centre staff are NOT authorised immigration advisers and therefore won't be able to provide advice on applications and immigration requirements. 

11 October 2018 - Immigration Health Surcharge increase

As mooted earlier this year, the IHS (aka the NHS surcharge) will increase to £400 per year of a visa (eg a 5 year visa will attract an IHS of £2,000). The Home Office has confirmed that this increase is scheduled to take effect in December 2018.  

This will be payable by all applicants coming to the UK for more than six months and it also applies to each of their dependants. 

Certain vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and modern slavery victims are exempt, and students and those entering the UK on a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa will be charged a discounted rate of £300. 

12 October 2018 - UKVI partnership with Sopra Steria: new services

UKVI is introducing a new streamlined online service for visa extensions, switches and applications for ILR and British Citizenship within the UK. The new service, the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UK VCAS) will be run by their commercial partner, Sopra Steria, which aims to provide a modernised digital service which will be fast and convenient, and should allow you to keep your passport and other important evidence.  

Six major cities will have locations offering free appointments, with user-pay services available in 50 local libraries and a premium service point in central London.

UKVI will announce further details within the next few weeks.

31 August 2018 - using electronic payslips with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications

The University recently announced the move to electronic payslips and this has caused some concern in particular for colleagues who plan to apply for ILR which asks for original documents. We've been in touch with the Home Office about this and they've responded as follows:

“Online payslips would be permitted and will be acceptable for the purposes of an ILR application. Obviously these are incredibly common nowadays, so aren’t something that would cause too much complication. I would however recommend that these are either stamped or printed on letterheaded paper to confirm their authenticity – although the sample you attached would be absolutely sufficient to this end [University of Leeds sample payslip]. If you[r staff] remain unsure and want some additional assurance, a covering letter confirming the authenticity of the payslips and highlighting the recent change cannot hurt; even if it’s just in the short term until you are more confident of approval using these payslips.”

If you plan to use payslips to prove residence for a future ILR application and you're still unsure about providing electronic copies, we'll be happy to provide a letter confirming your employment with the University for the relevant time period. Please contact your HR hub to ask for a letter.

Visit the immigration news archive page for older news. 

Page last updated: 7 November 2018

News archive - Brexit

This is the archive page for Brexit news.

31 October 2018

The Home Office has provided further information about the phase of the EU Settlement Scheme which opens to EU nationals working in Higher Education on 15 November 2018.  You can find out:

  1. who's eligible: EU nationals working in Higher Education - you'll need a valid, in-date passport and access to an Android smart phone which is capable of downloading the Home Office app.
  2. how they'll check your residence in the UK: if you provide your National Insurance number, the Home Office will access tax and benefits records, and you'll be able to upload other documents via the app if there are any times where you weren't employed or receiving benefits.
  3. how to prove your rights in the UK: until 31 December 2020, you can continue to use your passport/ID card.  Once you've applied for, and been granted, pre-settled or settled status, you'll be able to log into an online system where you can view and update your information. 

23 October 2018

The Home Office has released details of how you can provide evidence of your residence in the UK when you apply for pre-settled or settled status, if they can't get enough information from an automated check of UK tax and benefits records. 

11 October 2018

The Home Office announced a new phase of the EU Settlement Scheme which, from 15 November 2018, will allow EU nationals who are employed in higher education to apply for pre-settled or settled status. To be eligible, you'll need a valid passport and an Android device to be able to download and use the Home Office app.

Non-EU national members of your family who work in higher education can also apply if they have a Biometric Residence Permit.  If they're not employed in HE, they'll need to wait to apply (the scheme will be open to all eligible applicants by 30 March 2019).

Full details are available on the Home Office website

26 September 2018

In July 2017 the Home Office requested a report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on the current and likely future patterns of EEA migration. An interim update on this report was published in March 2018 and, on 18th September they published the 140 page final report.

Freeths Solicitors have produced two briefing notes on the contents of the final report, which you can download at the bottom of this page. 

28 August 2018

The Settled Status trial has begun in the North West of England and UKVI has issued guidance to its caseworkers for use during the trial period.  

20 July 2018

The UK Government has put a new process to Parliament, setting out stage 1 of the phased implementation of the proposed 'settled status' process for EU citizens under Appendix EU to the Immigration Rules. This pilot involves Higher Education Institutions and NHS Foundation Trusts in the North West of England and will take effect on 28 August 2018.

Further details of the phased implementation will be announced over the summer. 

21 June 2018

The Home Office has published an announcement and statement of intent which detail the settlement scheme for EU nationals.

The headlines are:

  • There will be 3 steps: proof of your identity, proof that you live in the UK, and declaration that you have no serious criminal convictions.
  • The cost is proposed to be £65 (£32.50 for a child under 16). If you already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation, you'll be able to exchange it for settled status for free.
  • The Home Office will check the employment and benefit records held by government which will mean that, for many, your proof of residence will be automatic.
  • If you haven't yet lived in the UK for five years, you'll be granted pre-settled status and be able to apply for settled status once you reach the five-year point. From April 2019, this second application will be free of charge.
  • A new online application system will be accessible through phones, tablets, laptops and computers. The Government plan to provide support for the vulnerable and those without access to a computer.
  • The settlement scheme will open in a phased way from later this year and will be fully open by 30 March 2019. The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021.

25 April 2018

The rights enjoyed by British and Irish citizens under the Common Travel Area are protected after the UK leaves the EU. This means that, if you're an Irish national, you won't need to apply for settled status in the UK to protect your entitlements in Ireland. The rights to work, study, and access social security and public services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals.  There'll be also be full protection and maintenance of the current arrangements for journeys between the UK and Ireland, including movement across the land border with Northern Ireland.

4 April 2018

Further policy announcements were made in early April. You can download Freeths' advice note below.

27 March 2018

Further details of the Withdrawal Agreement have been agreed at negotiator level, including the rights of EU citizens arriving into the UK during the transition period. Emma Brooksbank of Freeths Solicitors gives her view here.

News archive - immigration

This is the archive page for immigration news.

Submitting biometric information and supporting documents for a visa application 

The Home Office has awarded Sopra Steria, a digital consultancy company, a contract to deliver a new service which is aimed at streamlining the visa application process. From October 2018, Sopra Steria will submit your biometric information, and copy/submit your supporting documents (eg your passport), in a single appointment, meaning that you won't have to post important documents to UKVI.

Sopra Steria will be working in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians to offer the service in local communities, though UKVI Service Centres will still offer caseworker appointments for anyone who needs one. 

Strike action - Tier 2 and 5 visa holders

The Home Secretary has announced that strike action will no longer be counted as unauthorised absence for holders of Tier 2 and 5 visas, bringing immigration policy into line with employment law in the UK.

Indefinite leave to remain - continuous residence

UKVI has issued updated guidance for its staff on how to calculate the five year continuous lawful period in the UK requirement for an applicant.

Updates to the Immigration Rules (6 July 2018)

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route

UKVI has issued updated guidance on applying for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. 

Tier 2 (General) visa route

UKVI has issued updated guidance on applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa. 

Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) - 180 day rule

The 180 day rule which came into effect in January 2018 (see below) will not apply to absences taken before 11th Jan 2018. Absences before this time are subject to previous rule of no more than 180 days during each consecutive 12 month period (ending on the same date of the year as the date of the application for indefinite leave to remain).

Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa route

The ‘UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) Science, Research and Academia’ scheme replaces the ‘Sponsored Scientific Researcher Initiative’ and allows non-EEA researchers, scientists and academics to come to the UK for up to 2 years.

Appendix N to the Immigration Rules (list of approved authorised exchange schemes) is to be updated accordingly.

Turkish workers and their dependants

A new Appendix (Appendix ECAA) has been added to the Immigration Rules to cover indefinite leave to remain and further leave to remain for Turkish workers and their dependants

Dependants of UK visa applicants (Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5)

The course length requirement for dependants of Tier 4 migrants has changed. 

Short term students

Clarity has been given around genuine short term study, and the maximum length a student can extend their stay in the UK further to their declared intentions in their visa application. The requirements and conditions of stay have also been updated.

Tier 4 (General) student visa route

The guidance has been updated to remove out of date references and links.

Doctors and nurses to be exempt from Tier 2 cap

The Home Office has announced that it plans to exempt doctors and nurses from the restriction on the number of visa nationals entering the UK under Tier 2 stating that there will be "no restriction on the numbers of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route". The current 'cap' is 20,700 per year which is split into a monthly allocation; this allocation has been exceeded every month since December 2017, leading to visa refusals for doctors, nurses and IT professionals.

The changes are intended to take effect from 6 July 2018, when the Home Office plans to publish detailed guidance.

Undocumented Commonwealth citizens

The Home Office has launched the Windrush Scheme to allow it to start to process applications for British citizenship.  A guidance document and application form have also been published; the page also has contact information for the team established to help - you can read about its scope and remit here. Commonwealth citizens can now register for an email update service.

Citizenship application fees

The Home Office has published revised guidance on fees for applications for British citizenship with effect from 6 April 2018.

Restrictions on Croatian workers

The current registration requirements for Croatian workers will expire on 30 June 2018, after which they'll have the same rights to work in the UK as other EU citizens. 

Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) - 180 day rule

If you plan at any point to apply for ILR in the UK, you need to be aware that UKVI has changed the way it calculates the amount of time you can spend outside the UK during the five years before you apply.

You used to have to show that you had been absent from the UK for 180 days or less in each of the five consecutive years counting backwards from the date of your ILR application.

However, on 11 January 2018 UKVI changed this rule. Rather than calculating absence against fixed 12 month periods, the 180 day limit now applies to any rolling 12 month period during the previous five years (or 3 years if you're in the UK on a Tier 1 accelerated visa). This rule applies to all ILR applications going forward, even though the rule has only just changed.

Visa fees change

With effect from 6 April 2018, visa costs will change. You can download a full list below but, in summary:

Applications made within the UK
Visa type Current fee Fee from 6 Apr 2018
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - application £293 £152
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - approval letter from Competent Body (see note 2) £292 £456
Tier 2 (General) with a CoS of 3 years or less £677 £704
Tier 2 (General) with a CoS of more than 3 years £1,354 £1,408
Tier 5 (see note 1) £235 £244
Indefinite leave to remain £2,297 £2,389

Applications made outside the UK
Visa type Current fee Fee from 6 Apr 2018
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - application £585 £608
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - approval letter from Competent Body (see note 2) £292 £456
Tier 2 (General) with a CoS of 3 years or less £587 £610
Tier 2 (General) with a CoS of more than 3 years £1,174 £1,220
Tier 5 (see note 1) £235 £244


1. A Council of Europe Social Charter (CESC) discount of £55 applies for the main applicant.

2. Not required for accelerated route

Access UK - new visa application system

The Home Office is rolling out a new visa application system to replace Visa4UK and paper application forms. The system can be used to apply for visas from outside the UK, and visa extension/changes from within the UK. It's mobile friendly, quicker to complete and you can use it to book your Visa Application Centre appointment to give your biometrics. You can also save partly completed applications to finish later on.

You can download information about Access UK below.