Support for international colleagues

We’ve got lots of international colleagues in every area of the University and we're committed attracting, welcoming and supporting 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

If you're thinking of applying for a job at Leeds and you'll need permission to work in the UK, you can download our quick guide below, which might be helpful.

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 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.

International staff welcome event

Our Deputy Vice-Chancellor: International, Professor Hai-Sui Yu, hosts a twice yearly welcome reception for new international members of staff. These are by invitation only and are in addition to the all-staff ‘Welcome to Leeds’ session hosted by the Vice-Chancellor. You can download presentations from the most recent event below.

Staff networks

We have a number of staff networks across the University which you're welcome to join.

Regular events

The University runs various regular events which are mostly free, you don't need to book in advance and some are also open to your partner and children. Find out more on Relocate@Leeds.

Financial support

If you’re a new or current employee applying for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent/Exceptional Promise) or Tier 2 visa (both original applications and extensions) or Indefinite Leave to Remain, we can reimburse the cost of your application. You can find further information about the reimbursement scheme here.

If you’re a new or current employee 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 an indefinite leave to remain, permanent residence or citizenship application. Please contact the HR Operations: Systems & Admin team (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 and the UK Government's Prepare for EU Exit pages useful.

We'll update you on news from UK Visas and Immigration on our UKVI News page.

Our relationship with Freeths Solicitors

Group legal briefing sessions

Led by Emma Brooksbank of Freeths Solicitors, these sessions are aimed at EEA nationals and focus on updates on Brexit and the EU settlement scheme. 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 - on campus

If you want to discuss personal queries, including those related to residence or citizenship applications, you can book 20-30 minutes with Emma, who spends a day at the University every couple of 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 - appointments at Freeths

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.

Help with applications

Freeths' immigration team also provides specialist support on any immigration matter. Again, you're free to instruct any lawyer you choose but, if you do want to make an enquiry with Freeths, please contact Freeths directly to ask for a quote.

Brexit email update service

Freeths provides email update service (to register for updates, complete your details and select the "Brexit Briefings" option).

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.

We're running the following events during this academic year:

Updates on Brexit 

 Date  Time  Location on campus
 Tuesday 11 February 2020  10.30-12.00 Worsley SR (9.59)
 Thursday 23 April 2020  14.00-15.30 Clothworkers South Building LT 3 (3.12)
 Tuesday 16 June 2020  10.30-12.00 Michael Sadler SR (LG.15)

You can book a place on any of the sessions by visiting our Eventbrite page. Just click on the link and select the date you want to attend. If you do book and then find you're not available, please cancel your booking.

One to one legal advice (30 minute appointments)

 Date  Time  Location on campus
 Wednesday 22 January 2020  10.00-16.00  12.10 EC Stoner Building*
 Thursday 12 March 2020  10.00-16.00  12.10 EC Stoner Building*
 Wednesday 20 May 2020  10.00-16.00  11.12 EC Stoner Building
 Wednesday 15 July 2020  10.00-16.00  12.10 EC Stoner Building*

*Unfortunately, there is no accessible route to this room. Please let us know if you have any mobility concerns.

Please contact the International Team 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 International 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 and when they're being held, you can join the mailing list or Facebook group.

Brexit news

To keep up to date with Brexit and EU settlement Scheme developments, please visit the University's Brexit indepth page.

UK Visas and Immigration news

Keep up to date with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) changes and other immigration updates.

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

To keep up to date on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting immigration, please see the updates below and check

3 April 2020: Updated COVID-19 immigration guidance from the Home Office

The Home Office has provided some clarification as follows:

  • they may still accept an expired Certificate of Sponsorship if the application is submitted late because of COVID-19 but this will be considered on a case-by-case basis;
  • visa extensions for NHS visa holders: the Home Office will contact NHS employers to identify staff eligible for this extension and will tell the visa holder and employer when someone receives one of these automatic extensions;
  • there is no longer a limit on the number of hours working or volunteering ‘if you work for the NHS as a doctor, nurse or paramedic’ and are on a Tier 2 or Tier 4 visa.

30 March 2020: Proving your right to work (RTW)

The Home Office has confirmed that we still need to take evidence of RTW in the UK even though we're all working remotely. 

If you haven't yet given us your RTW documents because you're a new starter at the University, you've recently extended your leave to remain or you've switched to a new immigration route, please:

The Staff Immigration team will contact you to arrange a short video call so we can confirm that the copy you sent matches the original document, and that both are yours. Once we're all back on campus, we may ask you to show us your original documents.

If your leave to remain is expiring in the next couple of months, or has already expired, and you've applied for an extension or switch, we may need to check you still have the right to work in the UK by contacting the Home Office Employer Checking Service. Please email to let us have:

  • your permission
  • a copy of your passport (a photo is fine) as we don't have access to all of our files 
  • proof of your application, for example confirmation of payment
  • the month and year you arrived in the UK

We'll normally receive a positive response from the Employer Checking Service if you've submitted your visa extension/switch application but haven't yet received a decision, and this is valid for 6 months.

28 March 2020: UKVCAS centre closures

Sopra Steria, who run the centres in the UK which take biometric details for visa extensions and switches, announced that they have temporarily closed all of the UKVCAS centres in the UK.

They have advice for those who'd already made appointments, and new applicants, on their website

25 March 2020: COVID-19 and visa expiries for those in the UK

If you're in the UK on a visa which expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020 and you can't/don't plan to extend your leave to remain, you can ask UKVI to give you a temporary extension until 31 May 2020.  You must be unable to return to your home country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You'll need to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to ask them to update your record - see for the details you'll need to give, and further information.

If you're in the UK and planning to extend your existing leave to remain anyway, or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you can do so.

You may also be able to switch from a temporary visa to a longer term visa (for example a Visitor visa to a Dependant visa) without having to leave the UK to apply.  You'll need to make sure you meet the conditions for the new visa type though - check for details. 

You can download a useful summary at the bottom of this page. Please contact Staff Immigration if you have any questions. 

25 March 2020: COVID-19 update for those resident overseas

Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed in certain countries. To find out which, please visit:

  • TLS contact for countries in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
  • VFS global for all other countries

If you paid for courier service when you applied for your visa, your passport will be returned to you where a courier service is available. If you didn't, you should contact TLS or VFS directly to arrange return of your passport.

English Testing Centres are also affected. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) website or contact your test centre for more information.

Visit for full details. You can download a useful summary at the bottom of this page.

20 March 2020: HR service update

Along with the rest of the University, the HR service (including immigration and global mobility) will be delivering only essential services and activities on the University campus from 6pm on 20th March 2020; everything else will be delivered remotely from this time.  

If you're a member of staff who wants information relating to immigration, please email us at  If you've got a query about working overseas, please email

If you need general HR information, you can contact your named HR Manager or Officer by email. Alternatively, if you don't get a response by the end of the following working day, please contact or telephone 0113 343 4146.

Remember, you can sign up for updates to this page by emailing Staff Immigration.

20 March 2020: access to NHS for treatment of COVID-19


There can be no charge made to an overseas visitor for the diagnosis or treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19).

All overseas visitors, including anyone living in the UK without permission, should be aware that:

  1. No charges apply to testing for COVID-19, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for COVID-19 if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed. The same is true of most other infectious diseases.
  2. NHS trusts have been advised that no immigration checks are required for overseas visitors that are known to be only undergoing testing or treatment for COVID-19.

19 March 2020: Keep up to date with COVID-19 developments and information

Pub​​​lic Health England:​

Travel guidance for the educa​tion sector:

General​​ guidance:​ and

Information for those ​​with expired/expiriing visas who are in the UK:​ (note this hasn't been updated since 27 Feb and refers only to Chinese nationals - we'll repost when there's an update)

18 March 2020: Biometric appointments in the UK - Coronavirus

The Sopra Steria website (where you book appointments to give your biometric information in the UK, has the following statement:

  • If you have Coronavirus symptoms and should be self-isolating, or if you have Coronavirus, you must not attend for your appointment. P​​lease email with ‘COVID-19’ and your UAN in the subject to say that you cannot attend. We will refund your fee and will tell the Home Office.​
  • If after your visit to us, you develop symptom​s, or have Coronavirus, please email with ‘COVID-19’ and your UAN in the subject and details of your appointment.​

Visit the immigration news archive page for older news.

News archive - Brexit

This is the archive page for Brexit news. For up to date information, please visit the University's Brexit indepth page.

30 January 2019

MPs voted yesterday on several proposed amendments to Theresa May's Brexit agreement. The outcomes were:

  • Blackford amendment: to rule out no deal & extend Article 50 - rejected by 327 votes to 39
  • Brady amendment: Irish backstop to be replaced with "alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border" - passed by 317 votes to 301
  • Cooper amendment: to prevent a no-deal Brexit in March by giving MPs the power to request an extension to Article 50 - rejected by 321 votes to 298
  • Corbyn amendment: to rule out no deal & discuss options - rejected by 327 notes to 296
  • Grieve amendment: to allow 6 days for MPs to discuss alternatives to Mrs May's plan - rejected by 321 votes to 301
  • Reeves amendment: to ask the EU to postpone exit day - rejected by 322 votes to 290
  • Spelman amendment: to prevent a "no-deal" Brexit by adding to the PM's motion that Parliament "rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship" - passed by 318 votes to 310

This article from Eversheds Sutherland discusses what the two approved amendments mean.

30 January 2019

An 'EU exit awareness' evening, hosted by The Central and Eastern European Network of British Embassies, the UK Home Office and UK Department for Exiting the EU, is taking place for nationals of Central and Eastern European countries in Leeds on Tuesday 12 February, 5.30-8pm, at Leeds City Museum. Book a place on Eventbrite.

22 January 2019

Following the failure of Mr Corbin's vote of no confidence in the UK Government, Theresa May yesterday announced that the EU settlement scheme fee (£65 for adults and £32.50 for children) would be scrapped.  Further information is yet to be announced, but we understand that:

  • applications made on or after 30 March 2019 will be free of charge, and
  • anyone "who has, or will, apply during the pilot phase" will have their fee reimbursed.

The University's reimbursement scheme remains open to employees pending further information from the Home Office.

16 January 2019

MPs last night took part in the so-called 'meaningful vote' on Theresa May's plan for the UK's exit from the EU, and voted to reject the deal by 230 votes - the largest defeat for a sitting government in history. As a consequence, Labour leader Jeremy Corbin tabled a vote of 'no confidence' in the UK Government, which is expected to be held this evening.

Whilst the next steps are not wholly clear, Mrs May has suggested cross party talks with other UK political parties to find a way forward, reiterating that it is still her plan to deliver Brexit.

16 January 2019

The Home Office has announced details of the next test phase of the EU Settlement Scheme:

From 21 January, the next pilot phase of the EU Settlement Scheme will go live.

Building on the testing already undertaken in the higher education sector, this phase will be open to all EU citizens living in the UK who have a valid biometric passport. It will also be open to non-EU family members who have a valid biometric residence card.

Applicants will be able to access the application form direct on GOV.UK (please note, this is currently closed and will only open once the next phase of testing begins).

By applying during this test phase, applicants will continue to provide valuable insight into how the system is performing so that further improvements can be made before the scheme is fully rolled out by 30 March 2019.

Who can apply

The next phase of testing means that students and family members are able to apply provided they have either a biometric passport or biometric residence card. EEA and Swiss nationals are not eligible to apply during the pilot but will be able to once the scheme is fully live by 30 March 2019. Irish citizens do not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme but they can if they want to.


For any questions about an application made during the pilot, contact the EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre by calling 0300 123 7379 (inside the UK) or +44 (0) 203 080 0010 (outside the UK). Find out about call charges at You can also ask a question using the online submissions form.

For more information about the EU Settlement Scheme visit GOV.UK.

20 December 2018

The UK Government has now reached agreement on citizens' rights with Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein (EEA EFTA countries) and Norway, and as a result the Home Office has published a Citizens' Rights Agreement for nationals of Switzerland, and a Separation Agreement in respect of EEA EFTA countries.

In a 'deal' situation, rights for nationals of Switzerland and EEA EFTA will remain as they are until the end of the implementation period (ie until 31 December 2020), though you'll be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status under the EU settlement scheme from 30 March 2019, after the UK exits the European Union. If the UK exits with 'no deal', the new arrangements will come into force on 30 March 2019.

You can read the Home Office announcement here

20 December 2018

If you've not yet applied for pre-settled or settled status as part of the pilot, but you'd like to, you can do so here without having to pre-register with the Home Office. Appointments to use our Android smartphone are still available today and tomorrow, and you'll then have until midnight tomorrow night to complete and submit your application. 

If you're not able to apply before Friday night, don't worry. The Home Office are running another voluntary pilot which starts on 21 January 2019 and will be open to members of the public who are EU nationals holding a biometric passport, as well as their non-EU family members holding a biometric residence card (note: if you're an EU national with an ID card but no biometric passport, you won't be able to apply until the scheme opens fully). You'll still have to be able to use the Home Office's "EU Exit: Identity Document Check" app, and appointments will be available to use our Android smart phone for this. Read the announcement here.

19 December 2018

The UK Government has issued a White Paper on the future of the immigration system in the UK. The new system will apply to all overseas nationals (except Irish nationals) entering the UK after 31 December 2020, and will be introduced in a phased process before the the end of this implementation period. After this date, EU nationals will no longer be able to enter the UK for work without a visa. 

EU nationals who are already resident in the UK, or enter before 31 December 2020, will continue to be subject to the EU settlement scheme.  Negotiations are ongoing to introduce similar arrangements for nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. 

Further details, as well as the full document and an executive summary, are available here

17 December 2018

If you're a University employee who's applied for settlement, you can reclaim the £65 fee via e-expenses, logging in with your normal username and password.

The details and conditions of the reimbursement scheme, and step by step guidance for completing a claim, are available in the Immigration Reimbursement Guidance document.

If anything's unclear, please speak to your manager or your HR hub.

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.

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.

31 January 2020: Indefinite Leave to Remain BRP expiry dates

ILR BRP cards issued in 2020 will only be valid until 31 December 2024 because the current batch of BRPs don't have the next generation of encryption technology.  Until this is sorted, the Home Office plans to issue a second permit to affected applicants around six months before 31 December 2024. 

This article from Smith Stone Walters gives more detail and recommends that those affected add a diary note for mid-2024 to check they recieve a new card.

Fee increase for UK biometric appointments

Sopra Steria, who manage biometric appointments in the UK for the Home Office, increased their prices in January. There was no advance warning, or even an announcement since the increase. Increases are:

  • from £60 to £69.99 for a standard appointment
  • from £125 to £135 for appointments on Saturdays or out of regular office hours​

In addition, the old £19.20 fee for biometric appointments at the Post Office (which are no longer available) is also still being charged for production of a BRP.

If you're on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa and you travel abroad to work

As part of the University's sponsor duties, we need to tell UK Visas and Immigration if you go to work overseas, whether that's at another institution, or at home. If you're doing this, please let us know when you leave the UK, and when you return again.

Reminder: immigration reimbursement and interest-free loan schemes

Just as a reminder, our reimbursement scheme includes the cost of standard applications online or by post for Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas, and Indefinite Leave to Remain (employees only).

In addition, employees can apply for an interest free loan to cover the following costs when they're associated with an application for Tier 1, Tier 2, ILR or British Citizenship:

  • UKVI fees for Tier 1 and Tier 2 dependants
  • UKVI fees for employee's own dependant/spouse visa
  • UKVI fees for British citizenship applications for employee and dependant(s)
  • UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) costs for employee and dependant(s) including travel, the cost of an appointment and any additional chargeable services provided
  • National Health Service (NHS) healthcare surcharge for employee and dependant(s)
  • UK legal fees for advice on immigration
  • UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) service fees.

Calculating absence from the UK for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications (Tier 2 route)

How to calculate:

​If your 5 year qualifying period includes leave to remain granted before 11 January 2018, then all absences during that leave to remain should be calculated as "No more than 180 days in any 12 calendar month period​ ending on 30 June each year".

If your 5 year qualifying period includes leave to remain granted on or after 11 January 2018, then all absences during that leave to remain should be calculated as "No more than 180 days in any rolling 12 month period".

For example:

  • Amadi came to the UK on a Tier 2 visa which started on 1 March 2016 and was valid for 3 years.
  • In March 2019, she extended her leave to remain for 2 years, until March 2021.
  • In this case, Amadi would be eligible to apply for ILR from March 2021.
  • Any absences during the first 3 years should be calculated by 12 calendar months, and any absences during the visa extension period should be calculated by rolling 12 month period.

Days absent from the UK are whole days​, and therefore don't include travel days (eg if you left the UK on a Monday and returned on a Friday, absence would be 3 days), and you're allowed 180 days absence a year.

Research absences:

If the SOC code for your role is either 2119 or 2311, you may be able to exclude some absences from the 180 day limit. When you apply, you'll need a letter from University confirming that: ​

  • research was the purpose of the absence(s); and​​​
  • the University agreed to the absence(s) for that purpose; and​
  • the absence(s) directly related to your Tier 2 employment in the UK.​

Unfortunately, absences which aren't for research can't be included, eg attending conferences/meetings, training, teaching.

Useful information when applying for a Visitor visa

Carter Thomas Solicitors have produced a couple of useful articles:

On proving intention to leave the UK at the end of a visit

On mitigating other reasons for refusal

**updated 29 January 2020** 24 June 2019 - Use of ePassport gates

Since 20 May 2019, people from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA have been able to enter the UK using ePassport gates.

However, there are some exceptions; if you're a national of one of the above countries you still need to see a Border Officer and get a stamp in your passport if you're entering the UK:

  • on a Permitted Paid Engagement visa
  • on a Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) visa
  • on a National Identity Card
  • on a passport which doesn't have a biometric chip
  • with children under 12
  • on a Short Term Study visa to to study for up to 6 months (if you'll be in the UK for 11 months for an English language course, you'll need to apply for a visa in advance)
  • On a visitor visa of longer than 6 months

If you're in the UK on a visitor visa for 6 months or less and you're a national of one of the above countries, you can use the e-gates but we'll still need to see proof of travel, such as your itinerary or boarding card.

The Home Office has produced a leaflet which you can download below and which may help if you're not sure.

January to March 2019

Travelling while you're awaiting a decision on your extension/switch application

The Home Office has confirmed that, even though in many cases you can now keep your passport rather than having to send it to UK Visas and Immigration, you shouldn't travel outside the Common Travel Area (the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) until you receive your new BRP. 

If you do, UKVI will consider your application as withdrawn and your leave to remain will expire.

You can travel if you're just having a stamp in an expired passport transferred to a BRP, but UKVI advise taking any documentary evidence you have with you. 

Digital application service within the UK (UKVCAS)

The option to go to a Post Office to submit your biometric data has been closed, so everyone applying within the UK will need to attend a UKVCAS Centre appointment.  The nearest centres to Leeds are in Burnholme (York), Wakefield and Manchester. 

When you complete a visa application, you'll automatically be redirected at the end to the UKVCAS website.

Applying for reimbursement of a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent), Tier 2 (General) or Indefinite Leave to Remain application fee

Instructions for how to reclaim the cost of your application have been updated. If you're apply for your visa within the UK, you should select the "Visa - Tax and NI" option; if you submit your visa application from overseas, you should pick "Visa - No tax/NI".

20 December 2018 - Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) increase

The IHS (also known as the NHS surcharge) increase will take effect on 8 January 2019, as follows:

  • Students/Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa holders: increase from £150 per person per year of the visa to £300 per person per year of the visa
  • All other visa and immigration applications: increase from £200 per person per year of the visa to £400 per person per year of the visa

This will be payable by all applicants coming to the UK or extending their leave to remain for more than six months and any dependants will normally pay the same amount. You’ll pay half of the yearly amount if your application includes part of a year that is less than 6 months, and you’ll pay for a whole year if your application includes part of a year that is more than 6 months.

19 December 2018 - UK immigration system from 1 January 2021

The UK Government has issued a White Paper on the future of the immigration system in the UK. The new system will apply to all overseas nationals (including EU citizens except Ireland) entering the UK after 31 December 2020, and will be introduced in a phased process before the the end of this implementation period.

Proposed changes include expansion of the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa route, removal of the cap on the number of overseas nationals coming to the UK for work, removal of the requirement to meet the Resident Labour Market Test for Tier 2 (General), lowering of the role skill level for sponsorship from RQF6 (PhD/Masters/Degree) to RQF3 (A Level) and the ability of nationals of some "low risk" countries to apply for work visas within the UK.

Further details, as well as the full document and an executive summary, are available here

17 December 2018 - UKVCAS update

UKVCAS centres are now up and running and, if you're applying for a visa extension or to switch to another visa category, you'll be given the choice at the end of your application whether you want to attend a Post Office to give your biometric details, or whether you'd like to take advantage of the services offered at a UKVCAS centre. Limited information about this new service is available on the UKVCAS website, and you can download a Q&A document at the bottom of this page.

Note: UKVI Premium Service centres are now closed. Applicants who'd planned to apply at a Premium Service centre should choose to use the UKVCAS service instead. 

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.

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.