News archive - 2021

This is the archive page for 2021 immigration news.

14 June 2021 - New staff who are already in the UK and existing staff who are changing job type (eg research to teaching)

If you are already in the UK and you are coming to the University from another employer/sponsor, or if you are an existing member of staff with a different type of job to the one you have been doing (for example, you have been a researcher who is moving into a lecturer role) you cannot start the new job until you have your Biometric Residence Permit/or your new online status and we have carried out a right to work check. This also applies to Tier 4/Student visa holders who are switching into Skilled Worker but have not yet completed their studies. 

17 May 2021 - Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The UK government has taken the decision to extend the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) with effect from Friday 21 May 2021 to international employees and visitors carrying out research in certain disciplines.  The scheme, which has applied to postgraduate students since 2008, provides a vetting service to prevent knowledge gained in the UK from being used inadvertently to support the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction or advanced conventional weapon technologies. 

All sponsored employees who meet the criteria must supply an ATAS certificate with their visa application if this is submitted on or after 21 May 2021.

All relevant visitors must have an ATAS certificate before any research activity is undertaken, where the engagement begins on or after 21 May 2021.

Existing employees and visitors to whom this is relevant will not need to apply for an ATAS certificate during their current period of permission to work in the UK, but will need to do so if/when they apply to extend their permission or switch in the UK into a relevant immigration route.

Please see the HR website for further details (information for applicants and managers).

New staff coming to the UK from overseas

The Home Office has asked us to point out that you must not travel to the UK before your permission begins. If you do, you will be regarded as a visitor and will not be allowed to begin work until you have left the UK and re-entered during the validity period of your permission.

Now that many overseas Visa Application Centres have reopened, you will no longer be able to use an expired Certificate of Sponsorship when you apply for a visa.

You can attend a Visa Application Centre in another country if the centre(s) in your home country is/are closed. This concession has been extended to 30 June 2021. 

Replacement entry clearance vignettes are no longer free of charge - the cost is £154. Having said that, they are being issued with a 90 day validity period, instead of 30 days. The Home Office advises that you should not apply for entry clearance, or for a replacement vignette, unless you are confident you can travel to the UK.

Visitor visa applications from countries on the 'red list' may be delayed until suspension of travel is removed.

Staff already living in the UK

If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain but have been outside the UK for more than 2 years and unable to return as a result of covid-related travel restrictions, you can apply under the "Returning Resident" visa route to return to the UK on a permanent basis.

If you have not yet applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain and are concerned about exceeding the 180 day absence limit from the UK during your 5 year qualifying period, the Immigration Rules now allow absences relating to "travel disruption due to natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic" (Immigration Rules Appendix Continuous Residence CR 2.3) to be discounted from the 180 day limit. It is strongly recommended that you keep evidence of the reason, for example evidence of any travel bans in specific countries, closures of visa application centres and evidence of illness and/or caring for family members who are unwell.

If you need to extend your permission but are overseas and unable to return to the UK to submit the application, you may be able to apply online where you are if:

  • you left the UK before 17 March 2020, and
  • your permission expired while you are overseas and, as a result of covid-19 travel restrictions, you were unable to return to the UK before its expiry, and
  • you plan to return to the UK once you receive confirmation you are eligible by UKVI - you should give UKVI at least 21 calendar days' notice of the proposed date of travel unless either:
  • you cannot travel because travel restrictions remain in place;
  • you choose not to travel due to a COVID-19 risk to yourself or your family, for example, showing symptoms, a requirement to self-isolate or being high-risk and unable to travel.

Dates for your diary: Monday 8 – Sunday 14 March

Not actually an update from UK Visas and Immigration, but we wanted to make you aware that Leeds University Union have arranged World Unite Festival 2021, a week-long festival of intercultural activities, performances and taster sessions that celebrate our diverse global community. It's for students and staff, and some events are already listed with more to come.

Visit the LUU website for more information on this year's event. You can also read about the event's background and the types of activity we've previously offered on Medium. All staff are very welcome, so please do share this with your colleagues! 

UK NARIC services

Due to the UK leaving the European Union, the UK NARIC national agency function is now UK ENIC managed by Ecctis. The services offered have not changed - if you have a qualification taught/researched overseas and you need certification that it is equivalent to a UK qualification and/or you need certification that your PhD is eligible for PhD points under the Skilled Worker Visa immigration route, please use the Ecctis Visas and Nationality Service. If already have a UK NARIC account, you can use this to log into Ecctis.

Global Talent Visa: 'academic and research appointments' path

We have received the following clarifications:

A significant function of the applicant's role must be:

a) responsibility for academic, research or innovation leadership and development in a leadership role at a departmental, faculty or institutional level (typical duties may include strategy development and delivery, and overseeing management of staff/resources)

b) directing/leading an individual or team, which requires them to act independently and without supervision, in a research or innovation project or programme of work (this is likely to mean that entry level postdoc research positions will not be eligible).

24 February 2020 - New style Biometric Residence Permit

If you've received a BRP recently, you may notice that the design has changed. No notification has been received from the Home Office, but it looks like the differences are as follows:

  • It's a different colour/design
  • "Place and date of issue" has been removed
  • The holder's signature is no longer used
  • The biometric chip is hidden

New requirement for some STEM jobs

The Home Office has confirmed that the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) will be expanded to cover research staff in certain roles as well as research students. From 21 May 2021, research staff in relevant areas of research will need to hold an ATAS certificate when they apply for a Skilled Worker or Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange (T5) visa. 

The ATAS scheme is designed to protect UK research from exploitation and from inadvertently supporting the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) or advanced conventional weapon technologies. ATAS provides vetting to ensure that universities don't inadvertently support foreign military programmes of concern.

The relevant subject areas are listed in Appendix ATAS of the Immigration Rules and are broadly in the areas of medicine, biological sciences, veterinary and agricultural sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and computer sciences, engineering and technologies. Applicants will be able to check if they need an ATAS certificate on

Please also check Appendix ATAS of the Immigration Rules to see a list of nationalities which are exempt from requiring an ATAS certificate.

- International staff content on the HR website

We are updating the content on our website for international colleagues and prospective colleagues. This is an ongoing piece of work, and so far the following information is available from the link above:

  • Support for international colleagues
  • Events
  • UK Visas and Immigration news
  • Information for EEA/Swiss citizens post-Brexit
  • News archive - immigration
  • Focus on visas - Global Talent Visa
  • Focus on visas - Visitor visa

We also have separate pages on:

We have also updated our guidance for managers on employing overseas nationals and the UK's immigration system from 2021.

Please do share this information with colleagues who you think would be interested. 

Tier 4/Student visa holders switching into Skilled Worker Visa immigration route

You should be aware that you will not automatically meet the English language requirement for a Skilled Worker visa if you hold a Tier 4 or Student visa. However, this is easily assessed:

1. Are you exempt?

  • Yes: this does not apply to you
  • No: go to 2.

2: Have you completed the qualification you were studying under Tier 4?
  • o Yes: you can rely on this UK taught qualification
  • o No: to go 3.

3. Did you provide evidence of meeting the English language requirement when applying for your Tier 4 visa?
  • Yes: you can rely on having provided evidence with a previous visa application 
  • No (as your Tier 4 sponsor confirmed your English and you did not have to provide evidence): go to 4.

4. You will need to evidence how you meet the English language requirement - see for how to do this.

Submitting your biometric information for a visa application in the UK

The Home Office has clarified that, once you have submitted a visa application, you must attend a UKVCAS appointment to submit your biometrics within 240 days (7-8 months). If you do not, your application will be closed, and you will need to reapply.

Biometric Residence Permit delays

The Home Office has confirmed that it is aware that there are serious delays with BRPs at the moment, and significant delays in answering enquiries from customers on those delays.  It is currently taking them up to 40 days to respond, working through enquiries in date order. They have offered the following guidance:

  • Right to work
  • Right to rent

If you need to prove your right to work and do not have a BRP, the University can apply to the Employer Checking Service to confirm your status. Similarly, landlords can apply to the Landlord Checking Service.

National Insurance Numbers - NI numbers continue to be added to the back of BRPs. If you need to know your National Insurance Number before you receive your BRP, you can contact the Department for Work and Pensions. 

Registering with a GP/accessing NHS services - BRPs aren't required to register with a GP. Emergency healthcare is free and available for everyone. For secondary healthcare, you can ask the NHS to contact Status Verification, Enquiries and Checking (SVEC) at the Home Office. Find out more about NHS access on the NHS website.

Opening a bank account - The Home Office says a BRP shouldn't be required. However, this is at each bank's discretion.

Travel - Under current UK Covid-19 restrictions, non-essential travel, including abroad, is not permitted unless there's a legally permitted reason to do so. If someone travels/leaves the UK without their BRP, they'll need to apply for a single-entry visa to return to the UK. This costs £154 and is not refundable by the Home Office or reimbursable by the University (unless we have obliged you to travel on University business).

Remember that, if you have applied for a visa but have not yet received a decision, the Home Office will withdraw your application if you travel outside the Common Travel Area (the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Ireland).

Skilled Worker Visa

This new immigration route replaced Tier 2 (General) as the route for skilled overseas nationals coming to be employed in the UK. It is more flexible than Tier 2 but, with that flexibility, also comes complexity. However, we are getting to grips with it. You will need sponsorship from the University to be able to apply for the visa, and your school/institute will arrange this.

If you are an existing colleague with a Tier 2 visa, you will not need to do anything until your existing permission to stay is due to expire - at that time, you could apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if you are eligible, or we will need to make sure you are eligible to extend your Tier 2 visa under the Skilled Worker route. Unlike Tier 2, the new route has no time limit on residence so, if you cannot apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, there is an option to extend your Skilled Worker Visa for as long as you need to.