News archive - immigration

This is the archive page for immigration news. You can download archived news from 2018 and 2019 at the bottom of this page.

17 August 2020

- Travel corridors

The list of countries where self-isolation is not necessary if you're travelling from them has been updated again - France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba have been removed from the exempt list (ie if you're travelling to the UK from these destinations, you'll need to self-isolate on arrival).  

- Visa Application Centres (VACs) overseas

If you need a VAC appointment, but the one(s) in your home country is/are closed, you may visit any other country worldwide (as long as you're able to enter that country legally) to submit your application and attend a VAC appointment. This concession will be in place until at least 30 November 2020.

- Travelling to China

From 11 August, certain European nationals holding a valid residence permit, work permit or permit for family reunion and personal matters, and who are currently overseas due to travel restrictions, can apply to re-enter China.

These countries are: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

11 August 2020 - UKVCAS biometric appointments

The UKVCAS website now states that appointments have been released for ‘customers’ whose applications were received up to 31 July 2020.

They also say that, if you receive an email from them asking you to book an appointment, this means UKVI has confirmed that you're not eligible for biometrics reuse and must book an appointment.

5 August 2020 - expired visas for those still in the UK

You'll probably already be aware that, if your visa expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 and you registered to extend your leave to remain through the COVID-19 scheme, you now have until 31 August to either leave the UK or switch into a new immigration category which will allow you to stay. 

This is not an extension of your leave to remain and the Home Office confirmed that you should leave the UK as soon as you can, and by 31 August at the latest. During this ‘grace period’, until you're able to leave the UK, you can continue to live/work as per the conditions of your visa. If you have a short term visa which expires during August, you won't normally be granted an extension (but see below), you'll be expected to leave the UK before your visa expires.

You may be able to stay beyond 31 August in specific circumstances, for example if you're only able to arrange a flight after 31 August, or you've tested positive for COVID-19 (referred to as an "exceptional indemnity"). The latest guidance doesn't say whether inability to afford a flight counts as a legitimate reason for staying beyond 31 August.

To find out if you qualify for this exceptional indemnity and, if you do, what proof you'll need to give, you must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. If an indemnity is granted, it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave to remain has expired. 

23 July 2020

- Expired/expiring entry vignettes

If you have an entry vignette in your passport but haven't been able to travel to the UK because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the vignette is expiring or expired, you can ask for a free replacement by either contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre or arranging to return your passport to your Visa Application Centre if it has re-opened. There's information on how to do this online (under "If your 30 day visa to work, study or join family has expired").

- New visa route: Hong Kong BN(O) visa 

The Home Office has announced the introduction of a new visa route for British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, to move to the UK to work and study.  Those born after 1 July 1997 who are not eligible for BN(O) status, may also apply if they have a a BN(O) registered parent.  This new route will be available from January 2021.

A policy statement and guidance are also available. 

- Health and care visa (HCV)

HCV is a new visa type which launches on 4 August 2020 and is part of the Tier 2 (General) visa route within the current Points-Based System. It's intended to be used by “qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who have been trained to a recognised standard and who have good working English”. Benefits include fast-track entry, reduced visa fees and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.

HCV is available to a limited number of job types (Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes) and specific employers. Unfortunately, the University is not on the list of employers, nor are the SOC codes we most use for research and teaching professionals on that list.

See Part A of the Tier 2 Policy Guidance for more information. 

8 July 2020

- Travel corridors

The UK government has issued details of instances when the 14 day quarantine period which came into effect on 8 June 2020 does not apply.  This includes information on countries and territories with no self-isolation on return to England and the types of work carried out by people who are exempt.

- Phased reopening of more Visa Application Centres (VACs)

Quite a few VACs will begin a phased reopening over the next few weeks:

  • 29 June: Singapore
  • 6 July: Pakistan and Philippines, limited locations in India and Sri Lanka (Colombo)
  • 10 July: Laos (Vientiane)
  • 13 July: Algeria (Algiers, Oran), Cameroon (Yaoundé), Iraq (Baghdad, Basra, Erbil), Senegal (Dakar), Sierra Leone (Freetown), South Africa (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth) 
  • 17 July: Canada

China VACs are now open, though Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing are by prior appointment only.

- Re-closure of VACs

Due to local lockdown regulations, VACs are re-closed as follows:

  • Melbourne (Australia): closed from 9 July 2020 until further notice
  • Antananarivo (Madagascar): closed from 6 July 2020 until further notice

Please see the VFS Global and TLS Contact websites for detailed information on the status of VACs. 

2 July 2020

- Expired/expiring Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)

If we've assigned a CoS to you but, because of COVID-19 disruption, you haven't been able to use it to apply for a visa and it has expired or will expire soon, the Home Office will still accept your visa application using the expired/expiring CoS.

- Biometric information

If UKVI has previously taken your fingerprints, and can use them for your existing visa application, they will do so. This means you may not have to attend a biometric appointment, just send them an electronic image of your face and documents supporting your application.  UKVI will tell you if this is the case.  If you're not able to send the information electronically, you can still book an appointment.

- Switching immigration route/SOC code in the UK if your visa expires after 31 July 2020

This is now possible, provided that you need to apply to start a new course of study, to start a job with a new employer or to start a job with the same employer, but in a different SOC code (eg moving from a research role to a teaching role).

22 June 2020: More overseas Visa Application Centres reopening

More overseas Visa Application Centres will be starting phased reopening next week:

28 June:

  • Bahrain (Manama)
  • Kuwait (Kuwait City)
  • Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar, Jeddah, Riyadh)
  • United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai)

29 June: it's quite a long list (countries in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East)

16 June 2020

- UKVCAS Service and Support Centres (SSCs)

SSCs in the UK are offering a reduced number of appointments to existing applicants because of coronavirus. As more appointments are made available UKVI will invite you, via email or post, to arrange an appointment.

- Update on replacement vignettes (30 day visa) for those unable to travel to the UK

If your 30 day vignette has expired, you can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre to ask for a replacement (include your name, nationality, date of birth and GWF reference number, and "REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA" in the subject line).

Your local Visa Application Centre (VAC) will be in touch when it reopens to arrange for the vignette to be replaced - this replacement visa will be valid for 90 days

- Collecting your BRP on arrival in the UK

In normal times, you should collect your BRP from a designated Post Office within 10 days of your arrival in the UK. However, the Home Office has confirmed that you won't be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place. 

10 June 2020

- Visa Application Centres (VACs)

As noted previously, VACs began a phased reopening on 1 June, and further dates have been announced. This means that they'll deal with existing customers first, then begin taking new appointments. In addition to those listed below, VACs in Belarus and Ukraine have also reopened.

The following VACs will being reopening during week commencing 22 June 2020:

Azerbaijan (Baku) Gambia (Banjul) South Korea (Seoul)
Belgium (Brussels) Ghana (Accra) Spain (Barcelona, Madrid)
Brunei (Bandar Seri Begawan) Japan (Tokyo and Osaka) Switzerland (Geneva)
Cambodia (Phnom Penh) Jordan (Amman) Thailand (Chiang Mai)
China (Changsha, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Kunming, Nanjing, Shenyang, and Shenzhen) New Zealand (Auckland) Tunisia (Tunis)
Egypt (Alexandria, Cairo) Portugal (Lisbon) Turkey (Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Izmir)
France (Paris) Serbia (Belgrade) Vietnam (Danang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City)

Face coverings and social distancing are mandatory at all VACs. 

- Self-isolating when travelling to the UK

The Home Office has produced guidance on self-isolation on arrival in the UK. The information includes:

  • Self-isolate when you travel to the UK
  • Who must self-isolate
  • Why self-isolating is important
  • How to travel to the place where you are self-isolating
  • How to self-isolate in your accommodation
  • Support to help you self-isolate in your own accommodation
  • Within your accommodation
  • Washing your hands and keeping good hygiene
  • After self-isolating for 14 days
  • What to do if you get coronavirus symptoms
  • Exemptions

- Travellers who are exempt from having to self-isolate on arrival in the UK 

Guidance has been pulled together on those who are exempt from the border rules which came into force on 8 June. This includes anyone travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man who's been in that location for 14 days or more. It also applies to those on this list.

If you're entering the UK from one of those places but have been elsewhere during the previous 14 days, then the standard guidance on entering the UK applies to you. You'll need to complete this form before you travel.

- COVID-19 concessions on family visa requirements

Some concessions have been made as follows:

  • Fiance/fiancee/civil partner visas may be extended to 31 July 2020 under the COVID extension scheme if the ceremony has been postponed due to COVID-19 (you'll need to complete this online form
  • Minimum income and adequate maintenance requirements have also been adjusted
  • If you're unable to get certain documents due to COVID-19, the Home Office may make a decision without them, or allow you to submit them later.
  • If you need an English language test and the centre's been closed, or you couldn't/can't travel to it because of COVID-19, you can apply for an exemption (though you may need to take it later). 

27 May: Overseas Visa Application Centres (VACs) beginning to reopen

VFS Global and TLS Contact will begin phased opening of some of their VACs during week commencing 1 June 2020. For example:

  • 1 June: China centres in Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou & Shanghai, along with Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur
  • 4 June: centre in Berlin 

You can check on particular locations on

27 May 2020: English language tests worldwide

Some English language test centres are reopening:

26 May 2020: Update on UKVCAS centres in the UK

Some UKVCAS centres (including Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester) will reopen on 1 June 2020, but only for those who made an appointment before the closures and had it rescheduled. If you have already made an appointment, the UKVCAS centre will contact you.

26 May 2020: Clarification on arrivals in the UK from 8 June 2020

The clarifications below have been made relating to new arrivals in the UK, and you can find more information on

  • You won't need to complete contact/travel information, or self-isolate, if you're travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • Contact and travel information should be completed online before travel - the online form will be available on the page above (save/print a copy in case you're asked when you arrive)
  • Do not travel if you have coronavirus symptoms
  • If you develop symptoms while travelling, tell the crew on your transport so they can let staff at your destination know
  • There are limited number of reasons for breaking the 14 day period of self-isolation - check the page above for more information

22 May 2020: Public health measures for anyone arriving in the UK

The Home Office has announced new measures which will come into effect on 8th June 2020:

  • Each arrival will be asked to complete contact and travel information so they can be contacted if someone they've been around develops COVID-19.
  • Everyone will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival. 
Spot checks by the police and UK border force will come into force, along with the potential for fines if someone refuses to comply with the regulations.

22 May 2020: COVID visa extension scheme

The Home Office has announced that the COVID extension scheme will be extended to 31 July 2020 for all visa types.

This means that, if your visa expired or will expire between 24 January 2020 and 30 July 2020, and you either can't, or weren't intending to, extend your visa but you aren't able to leave the country yet, it will be extended to 31 July 2020.

There are two parts to this it seems:

  1. If your visa has already been extended by way of the COVID extension scheme (ie you contacted the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre to request a temporary extension to 31 May), then this latest extension to 31 July will be applied automatically without any further action.
  2. However, if you haven't applied via the COVID extension scheme, you'll need to do so online. This is important, as your visa will not be extended automatically.

18 May 2020: Changes to the Immigration Rules

- EU Settlement Scheme

With effect from 4 June 2020, eligibility for the scheme is widened to:

  • allow family members whose relationship with an EEA citizen has broken down permanently as a result of domestic violence or abuse to have that, coupled with their own continuous residence in the UK, recognised as part of their application; and
  • include family members of British or dual British-Irish citizens who are people of Northern Ireland.

 - Start-up, Innovator and Global Talent

Student visa holders who are applying for one of the above, and were sponsored for their studies in the UK by a government or international scholarship agency in the 12 months before the date of application, must have the unconditional written consent of that sponsoring government or international scholarship agency to make the application. This is whether they submit their application from within or outside of the UK. 

- Fiancé(e) visas

The rules relating to fiancé(e) visas have been updated to confirm that the purpose of the route is to allow couples to get married in the UK.  

28 April 2020: Free replacement vignette (30 day visa) for those unable to travel to the UK

If you're overseas with a 30 day vignette in your passport which has expired, or is expiring, you can apply for a free replacement by contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre by email with the words "REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA" in the subject line. You'll need to include the following information in your email:

  • your name
  • your nationality
  • your date of birth
  • your GWF reference number 
Once Visa Application Centres reopen, they'll be in touch to arrange an appointment with you to endorse the visa in your passport. The process will be available until the end of 2020.

24 April 2020: Support for those living in the UK with time-limited leave to remain

The Home Office has just published a new COVID-19 guidance page which may be useful for anyone who is facing, or worried about, financial difficulties.

It includes details of support and information on getting medical treatment, employment, studying, housing costs and asylum. It confirms that, though you may not be able to claim public funds, you may be able to access Statutory Sick Pay, contributory Employment and Support Allowance, and salary support which can be provided to employers through the Job Retention Scheme. It also mentions the possibility of mortgage repayment holidays and increased protections around evictions.

17 April 2020: British Citizenship applications

Applying by post is taking much longer than applying online because of coronavirus (COVID-19), and it's taking longer than usual to process applications generally because of coronavirus. UK Visas and Immigration confirms that this will not affect the decision. 

14 April 2020

- Starting work for us if you've submitted a visa application but you haven't yet received a decision

The Home Office has confirmed that, for the time being, you can start work for the University before your visa application has been decided if:

  • you're already in the UK; and
  • you've been assigned a CoS by the University of Leeds; and 
  • you submitted your visa application before your current visa expired and can show us evidence of this; and
  • the job you start is the same as the one listed on the CoS we've assigned to you.

Important to note:

  1. We've developed internal processes on recruitment, so you should check with your Human Resources hub whether you can start work.
  2. If they say you can, please send them:
    • proof that you've submitted a Tier 2 or Tier 5 application to work for us, preferably a copy of your application and proof that you've submitted it, and
    • a copy of your passport (personal details page), and 
    • a copy of your existing BRP (front and back).
  3. The Staff Immigration team will contact you to arrange a short video call to confirm that the documents are consistent with your appearance. 
  4. If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused, we'll have to stop sponsoring you and terminate your emp​​loyment/engagement. 

- Proving your right to work (RTW) *update*

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

  • either send a scanned copy or photo of your document(s) to *making sure you password protect the file(s) using your surname (lower case with no punctuation, eg hyphens) and your date of birth as a 6 digit number (ddmmyy).
  • or if you have a biometric residence permit/card you can log into your online portal and email your 'share code' to

6 April 2020:

- What to do if your visa's expiring and you weren't planning to stay in the UK long term

The Home Office now has a form which you should complete rather than emailing the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT). 

- If you are applying for a Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visa

If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you haven't been able to travel to the UK, you may still be eligible for a visa so you should make your application as planned. The Home Office will consider all applications on a case by case basis.

- If you're a doctor, nurse or paramedic working for the NHS

If your visa expires before 1 October 2020, it will automatically be extended by 12 months. If you have family members in the UK on dependant visas, they will also be extended. You won't need to apply for this, or pay for it, and you won't have to pay a health surcharge. 

- Visa fees

The Home Office has confirmed that this April will see no increase in the cost of applying for any type of visa, either from overseas or within the UK. 

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.​

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.