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.

COVID-19 (coronavirus)

You can find information on the pandemic and how the University's dealing with it on our dedicated microsite.

If you have visa concerns, please see our immigration news page

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.

Staff networks

We have a number of staff networks across the University which you're welcome to join. You can also check out our clubs and societies for you and your family.

Financial support

If you’re a new or current employee applying for a work visa, you may be eligible to apply for reimbursement of the cost of your application. You can find further information about the reimbursement scheme here.

Other costs, including fees for you family members, may be covered by our interest free loan of up to £5,000. 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 your local HR hub or email hr@leeds.ac.uk.

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

If you're working remotely, you'll need to log in via Remote Desktop. 

Updates

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 Brexit Checker useful.

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


Our relationship with Freeths Solicitors

Individual consultations with an external immigration adviser by telephone or video call

If you want to discuss personal queries, including those related to residence or citizenship applications, you can book a free 20-30 minutes with Emma Brooksbank of Freeths Solicitors. This is available to all staff and are arranged regularly - please email Staff Immigration to express your interest in speaking to Emma.

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).


Currently on hold due to coronavirus

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. 

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.

Freeths 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.

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.


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

Events

We have a long-standing relationship with Freeths Solicitors to help and advise colleagues on immigration matters.

One to one legal advice (30 minute appointments)

We schedule in regular half-day sessions with Emma Brooksbank of Freeths Solicitors.  The appointments free, and are available for all staff to discuss immigration queries with Emma. Please contact Staff Immigration to register your interest in a one-to-one meeting, including a short explanation of your query in your email.

Note: meetings are still going ahead but, due to coronavirus restrictions, are currently held by telephone or video call (MS Teams or Zoom). 

You can also contact us if you have any Brexit or general immigration questions.

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

Useful COVID-19 information

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. 

Switching visa type in the UK

The coronavirus concession allowing you to switch from a Visitor visa in the UK into a longer term route (such as Skilled Worker) has now ended. To be eligible to switch, your current visa type must be listed on the relevant gov.uk page (for example the Skilled Worker Visa "switch to this visa type" page).

EEA/Swiss staff and family members

Our Brexit webpage will be updated soon. In short, if you have lived in the UK since before 31 December 2020, you and your family members are likely to need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you have not already done so. Please check the Brexit webpage later this week for more information and links.

EU Settlement Scheme - absences from the UK due to coronavirus

The Home Office has updated their guidance to explain your situation if covid-19 has affected your residence in the UK. Please check the information on absences if you are concerned. 

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).

Travel to the UK

From 17 May 2021, countries which are not on the the 'red list'​ for entering England will be rated 'amber' or 'green'. Each list has its own rules for coming to the UK, so please check to find out which list your country is on, and make sure you comply with all travel restrictions including pre-departure testing. Please check the travel advice issued by your carrier and check what you need to do before entering the UK.​​ 

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.

Right to work checks

The Home Office has confirmed that we will need to re-start in-person right to work checks for some staff from 21 June 2021.  We are reviewing how to manage this, and will confirm further details in due course.

24 March 2021

- Exceptional assurance

'Exceptional assurance' has now been extended to all visas expiring before 30 June 2021. If you already have exceptional assurance, you'll need to reapply if it expires before then or if your circumstances have changed.

See gov.uk for more information. 

22 March 2021

- Exceptional assurance

The Home Office's 'Exceptional assurance' arrangement has been extended to all visas expiring before 30 April 2021. If you already have exceptional assurance, you'll need to reapply if it expires before then or if your circumstances have changed.

See gov.uk for more information. 

8 March 2021

- Leaving the Common Travel Area from England

From today, most people travelling to a country outside the Common Travel Area (the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Ireland) from England will need to complete a Declaration form for international travel. If you try to travel without this, you will be committing a criminal offence for which you could be fined. There are exemptions for certain jobs/conditions.

There are limited situations where travel is allowed, but the traveller must still complete a declaration form.

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! 

3 March 2021

- Coronavirus 'exceptional assurance'

The Home Office has updated its information on exceptional assurance, extending the provision to visas expiring on or before 31 March 2021. Visit gov.uk for more details.

- 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 (additional guidance in italic text):

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​

- Rules for lockdown in England 

The UK Prime Minister announced a 'roadmap' for getting out of the current lockdown situation. There are several key dates when, all being well, changes will be introduced. At the moment, England is still in a national lockdown. You must stay at home, leaving only where permitted by law, and follow the rules in the guidance. 

In brief, the following changes are scheduled for 8 March 2021:

  • We will be able to socialise outdoors with one other person, or with our household or support bubble.
  • Schools and further education colleges will reopen for all students.
  • Childcare will be available.
  • Students on practical Higher Education courses at English universities will be able to return if they have not already only if they would not be able to complete their course if they did not return.
  • International travel will still be restricted and anyone wishing to leave the UK will need to complete an outbound declaration of travel form before leaving (holidays will still not be a reason to leave the UK).
  • Regular indoor visits with someone in a care home will be allowed for a single named visitor.

The Clinically Extremely Vulnerable are advised not to attend work, school or education until 31 March.

You can find more information on gov.uk.

12 February 2021

- Hotel quarantine for arrivals in the UK from countries on the 'red list' (banned travel)

The details of the hotel quarantine scheme for arrivals in England have now been announced.

The only people allowed to enter the UK from countries on the UK government's 'red list' will be British and Irish nationals, and those with residence rights in the UK (which currently includes entry clearance and permission to stay). Importantly, the list does not refer to your nationality, but to a country/countries you have visited or passed through in the 10 days before your arrival in England - everyone entering England from the relevant countries must quarantine for 10 days in a quarantine hotel.

Please see the gov.uk page on hotel quarantine for details of how to book, cost, which ports you can arrive in, what you need to do before you travel and what you'll be allowed to do during your 10 day quarantine period.

- Travelling to the UK from a country which is not on the 'red list'

If you are entering the UK from a country which is not on the 'red list', you'll still need to quarantine but you can do this in a location of your choosing.  Please see gov.uk's How to quarantine when you arrive in England which tells you what you will need to do before you travel, and how and where to quarantine.

- Unauthorised migrants can get the coronavirus vaccine

The Home Office has confirmed that "Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to everyone living in the UK free of charge, regardless of immigration status." Treatment for coronavirus is also available to unauthorised/undocumented migrants.  

- EU Settlement Scheme FAQs 

The Free Movement website has produced an article giving the six most frequently asked questions about the EU Settlement Scheme, along with answers:

  1. What if… I don’t have an identity document?
  2. What if… I don’t have evidence of residence?
  3. What if… some of my documents are not in English?
  4. What if… I was outside the UK for more than six months?
  5. What if… I was stuck abroad due to COVID-19?
  6. What if… I already have a UK residence card?

10 February 2021

- New quarantine requirements from Monday 15th February

From 15 February, anyone entering the UK from a country with a travel ban to the UK must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

Visit gov.uk to check which countries are on the travel ban list (note: this changes regularly)

View the Home Office announcement on quarantine - exact details, such as which 'facilities' will be used and how to book, are due to be published on Thursday 11 February.

- Information for indefinite leave holders

Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) / Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK expires after 2 years' absence.

The Home Office has announced updated guidance in light of the pandemic for people who find themselves in this situation.

In short, you will need to complete the online Returning Resident application form and pay the fee (which will be refunded) to get back into the UK and resume your ILE/ILR.

Please see the section titled "If you’ve remained outside the UK for over 2 years and due to coronavirus travel restrictions your indefinite leave has lapsed" on gov.uk for more information.

- 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 gov.uk.

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. 

3 February 2021 

- Border restrictions (England)

​New measures were announced last week.

Travel out of the UK:

  • anyone trying to leave the UK will need a valid reason to travel (this will be checked) - it is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes
  • there'll be an increased police presence at ports and airports, fining those in breach of the stay at home regulations

Seeking to enter the UK:

  • travel from some countries into the UK is banned (note: a travel ban is in place even if someone's ju​st transited through an affected country)
  • those permitted to enter must (a) have a negative covid test within the 3 days before travel (with results in English, French or Spanish) and (b) complete a passenger locator form and (c) self-isolate for 10 days on arrival, even with a negative covid test (or 5 days if they have a negative test through the Test to Release scheme)
  • where the UK has introduced a travel ban, nationals who cannot be refused entry will have to self-isolate in a hotel
  • police will carry out more physical checks at addresses to make sure people are self-isolating

- Visit visas to the UK

Guidance for those wanting to come to the UK on a Visitor visa has been updated in line with border restrictions. Applications from countries where a travel ban is in place will be delayed, and visas will only be issued when suspension of travel is lifted.

If you need to travel urgently for compassionate reasons, you can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre (CIH) for guidance.  The email subject should be ‘Visitor Visa – Urgent Travel Request’, it must be in English andyou must provide your name, date of birth and full details of your circumstances.

Applications for visas for work, study or residence in the UK continue to be accepted from all locations but you  must comply with UK border measures.

- ​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?

  • Yes: you can rely on this UK taught qualification
  • 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 gov.uk 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

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.

Right to rent

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). 

- Necessary travel to Europe

If you need to travel to Europe, gov.uk has a helpful list of things you might need to consider. This includes information on passports, travel insurance, driving etc.

There is a second page which lists additional considerations for business travellers such as entry requirements and earning money in the EU.

8 January 2021

Happy new year, colleagues! Unfortunately there has been no rest for the Home Office, so there has been quite a lot of activity over the Christmas break.  There were two particularly wide-ranging changes which came into effect on 1 January 2021:

1. End of free movement with the European Union

A very warm welcome to new EEA/Swiss colleagues to the UK immigration system. If you are coming to the UK in 2021 and beyond to work, you will need to apply for permission before you travel (see Skilled Worker Visa section below).

If you were living in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you don't need a visa, but you do need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled or settled status. As long as we have a copy of your passport, you don't need this to continue to work for us, but you will need it to continue to access UK benefits and services like the NHS. The deadline for you to apply is 30 June 2021. 

2. 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. 

- Existing visa holders who are already in the UK and starting a new job at Leeds

Covid adjusted rules have been in place allowing you to start work for a new sponsor/employer as soon as you were able to provide evidence that you had submitted your visa application. These rules now only apply to Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned before 1 January 2021.

If your CoS has been assigned to you since then, you will not be able to start work at Leeds until you receive your new Biometric Residence Permit and can provide this to us.

- Switching between immigration routes in the UK

The temporary concession allowing people to switch in the UK to a visa for which they would normally need to apply overseas has now ended. In particular, it is no longer possible to switch from a visitor visa to any other kind of permission while in the UK

- Absence from the UK if you have pre-settled status

If you are overseas at the moment and have been for more than 6 months, you may have lost your right to 'upgrade' to settled status after 5 years residence in the UK. The only exception is for "an important reason" - in relation to the pandemic, this is where the Home Office considers that you are/have been forced to remain outside the UK due to travel restrictions, quarantine or COVID-19 related health complications. Unfortunately, this does not cover you choosing to remain overseas for economic reasons, to be closer to your family members or because you considered the risk to your health to be greater in the UK than in another country. 

If you are in this situation you will be able to return to, and remain in, the UK until your pre-settled status expires. If you are unable to upgrade to settled status, you may be eligible for a visa.  If you have any concerns, please contact us.

- UKVCAS centres 

If you have an appointment at a UKVCAS centre in the UK, please rest assured that the centres "are considered an essential public service and will continue to operate safely under local and national restrictions."  

- Home Office updates to existing information

The following gov.uk pages have been updated recently:

- UK NARIC Visas and Nationality Service

UK NARIC, which allows visa applicants to use their non-UK qualifications to meet visa requirements, has changed its services to meet the needs of the new immigration system. They now offer 3 services under their Visas and Nationality umbrella:

Visas and Nationality (English proficiency)

This service is for qualifications which were taught overseas, but in English, to demonstrate the level of the qualification and English proficiency for a UK visa application. Assessments will normally be completed with 10 working days of receipt of documents and payment, though fast-track services are available.

Visas and Nationality (PhD verification)

This service allows verification of an overseas PhD to qualify for tradeable points for the Skilled Worker route. To be able to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to someone who is relying on having a relevant PhD to gain 70 points for a Skilled Worker Visa, we need to supply the UK NARIC reference number on a CoS application so this must be provided before we can issue a CoS. Assessments will normally be completed with 30 working days of receipt of documents and payment.

Visas and Nationality (PhD verification with English proficiency)

This is a combination of the above 2 services. Assessments will normally be completed with 30 working days of receipt of documents and payment.

- Our immigration reimbursement and interest-free loan schemes

We have now updated these to include Skilled Worker Visa costs. The loan scheme can also be used by existing employees to apply for money in advance of paying for a visa extension, then applying for reimbursement once the application is submitted and repaying the money to the University.

17 December 2020

This is our last update of 2020. Our shared inboxes won't be monitored over the 2 week break, but we will provide an alternative point of contact on our 'out of office' message for emergencies only.

Merry Christmas to all colleagues who celebrate, and our best wishes to everyone for a relaxing break. We look forward to seeing/speaking to you in 2021.​ 

If you're in the UK

- Longer term extension to permission to stay

You can currently switch to a longer term visa (for example Skilled Worker Visa) in the UK rather than having to apply from overseas as you might need to do in normal times.  You will need to meet the requirements of the route you are apply for (including, from 1 January 2021, the rules relating to the visa types you can switch from in the UK), and the terms of your permission in the UK will remain the same until you get a decision.  You can also apply for a longer term visa if you have exceptional assurance.

You need to show your application is urgent, for example explaining in a covering letter with your application that you are starting a new job or course of study.

- Short term extension to permission to stay

Arrangements for requesting ‘exceptional assurance’ for those intending to leave the UK, but unable to do so, have been extended to apply to visas expiring up to 31 January 2021.  You can apply using the process outlined by the Home Office.

If you have applied for exceptional assurance already, but have not yet had a decision, you do not need to apply again or chase the application.  If you already have exceptional assurance, and it expires before 31 January, you can apply to extend it as above, stating clearly that you are making a subsequent application.

- Starting work if your Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”) was assigned on or after 1 January 2021

If you’re already in the UK and your CoS from us was assigned before 1 January 2021, you can start work as soon as you can give us evidence that you’ve submitted your visa application.

However, if your CoS is assigned on or after 1 January 2021 (when we email the CoS to you, we’ll tell you what date it was assigned), then you won’t be able to start work for us until you can show us evidence that your visa application has been granted.

- Christmas in the UK

Not sure what the rules are over Christmas?  The Home Office is keeping their webpage up to date.

If you're outside the UK

- 30/90 day entry vignettes

If your 30 or 90 day entry vignette has expired, you can apply for a replacement by completing an online form.  The cost is £154 and you will need to re-submit your biometric information.

Until 31 December 2020, replacement of a 30 day vignette is free. You can arrange a replacement by following the instructions on gov.uk (under “If your 30 day or 90 day visa vignette to work, study or join family has expired”).

- Priority and Super Priority Services

These services are now available in some locations.  If they are available for your visa application, you will be able to purchase the services when you book your Visa Application Centre (“VAC”) appointment.

- Requirement to self-isolate on entry into the UK

This requirement has now been reduced from 14 days to 10 days.  

The guidance also gives details of the new “Test to Release for International Travel” scheme – if you are only allowed to leave self-isolation for work-related activities in England, you can choose to take a coronavirus test under the Test to Release scheme. If you test negative you would be able to end your self-isolation.

- Visiting the UK from 1 January 2021

The Home Office has updated its guidance on what you will need to do before you come to the UK, and while you are here.

- Applying for your visa

If your VAC is closed due to coronavirus restrictions, you can apply online and select a VAC in another country (bear in mind you will need to be allowed to enter that country).  This concession is now valid until 31 March 2021.

- English language requirement

If you are asked to take an English language test as part of your application, you can apply for an exemption if the test centre was closed or you could not travel to it due to coronavirus when you applied.

Other news

- Global Talent Visa applications

If your endorsement has expired and you have not been able to apply for a visa because of coronavirus restrictions, your endorsement will remain valid if:

  1. it was granted on or after 24 January 2020, and
  2. you apply for your visa before 1 January 2021

The Home Office will consider applications that do not meet these requirements on a case by case basis.

Impact of coronavirus – EU Settlement Scheme, Turkish workers/business people and 

The Home Office has produced new webpages of advice:

They cover such subjects as the effect on permitted absences from the UK, furlough and alternative evidence for applications.

- UK nationals – travelling to Europe with your pet from 1 January 2021

We now have confirmation that the UK will become a “Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme” from 1 January, and current EU pet passports will no longer be valid.  Check the webpage to see what you’ll need to do before travelling with your ferret, cat or dog (including assistance dogs).

28 November 2020

- New immigration route for skilled workers

You may be aware that the current route for skilled workers to get permission to work in the UK, Tier 2 (General), will close to new applications on Monday 30 November and the new route, Skilled Worker, will open to applicants on 1 December. We'll be circulating some information to existing Tier 2 visa holders early next week on how it will affect you (in the short term, it won't).

The new route will also be open to applications from EEA and Swiss nationals who won't be resident in the UK before 31 December 2020, and who will therefore need a visa to work in the UK. EEA/Swiss nationals who live in the UK before 31 December 2020, and their family members, are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

- UKVI updates

UKVI has announced that the Immigration Health Surcharge portal will be closed between 11am and 2pm on Monday 30 November, meaning that visa applicants won't be able to complete an application during this time.

In further news, from 1 December there'll be a single customer contact centre number for all customer queries made within the UK and overseas - 0300 790 6268 (or 0044 300 790 6268 from overseas). You'll still have the option of 8 languages, and the core service hours and charges won't change. 

- Entering the UK

The 14 day self-isolation requirement remains in place for those who are not exempt (exemptions are only for nationals of countries in a 'travel corridor' with the UK, and for certain occupations). However, under new rules from 15 December you may be able to pay for a COVID-19 test to find out if you can reduce your self-isolation period after international travel.

5 November 2020

- Support information

UKVI now has a page which details support you can get during the pandemic if you don't have permission to live permanently in the UK.  This includes information on medical treatment, state benefits, help with housing costs and information for asylum seekers.

- 'Exceptional assurance' for those unable to leave the UK - visas expiring 1 November 2020 to 30 November 2020

If you intend to leave the UK but haven't been able to do so and your visa expires between 1 November and 30 November 2020, you can request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by completing an online form. You'll need to provide proof (UKVI will tell you what's suitable for this) and, if it's granted, your right to work/study/rent will continue.

If you've already completed the form, but haven't yet had a response, there's no need to chase - UKVI will be in touch with you and, until you hear from them, you won't be classed as an overstayer and there'll be no impact on any future UK immigration applications you make.

If you've already received 'exceptional assurance' but your circumstances have changed or you can't leave the UK by the date UKVI gave you, you must reapply, clearly stating that you're making a subsequent application. 

- Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) which expire on 31 December 2024 

If your permission to stay in the UK continues into 2025 but your BRP expires on 31 December 2024, that's not a mistake. New security measures for BRPs will be introduced in 2025 but these aren't available yet.  UKVI has confirmed that you don't need to do anything at the moment, they'll provide information on how to update your BRP in early 2024.

If there are any mistakes on your BRP, you should report these within 10 days of receiving it. 

- New immigration system from 1 January 2021

There are two major changes to the UK's immigration system from 1 January 2021:

  1. a new immigration route, Skilled Worker, which will replace Tier 2 (General); and
  2. the inclusion of EEA/Swiss nationals in the immigration system.

More information will be available soon but:

  • If you're an EEA/Swiss national who's already resident in the UK, or will be resident by the end of 2020, this won't apply to you as you'll be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline to apply is 30 June 2021, though we'd suggest applying earlier rather than later. Important: all EEA/Swiss nationals need to apply, even if you've been here for many years and/or you already have a Permanent Residence card.
  • If you're an EEA/Swiss national who'll be moving to the UK in 2021, we'll be in touch shortly to discuss your options. If you can move to the UK before the end of 2020, we'd strongly encourage this - the EU Settlement Scheme is straightforward and free to apply; a Skilled Worker visa has strict eligibility requirements and, with the requirement to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (currently £624 per person per year of the visa), it may cost you several thousand pounds.
  • If you're currently in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa, you don't need to do anything at the moment. You'll remain on Tier 2 until your current BRP expires, when you'll need to apply for an extension under the Skilled Worker route, or switch into another immigration route.
  • If you're moving to the UK and need a sponsored visa, your application would be reviewed under Tier 2 (General) rules if you submit it before 9am on 1 December 2020 and you'd be granted a Tier 2 visa; after that, Skilled Worker rules are applicable, and you'd be granted a Skilled Worker visa.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact immigration@leeds.ac.uk.

7 October 2020

UKVI has developed some information pages on the steps involved in applying for a visa which may be useful for new applicants and those applying to switch/extend in the UK:

The European Union has a useful document on what you need to know as a non-EU family member of an EU citizen in post-Brexit UK. Amongst other information, it covers what actions you'll need to take, and who's covered under the EU Settlement Scheme.

4 September 2020

- If your visa is expires between 1 September and 31 October 2020

If your visa expires between the above dates, and you weren't planning to stay in the UK but are struggling to leave, you can ask the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre for additional time in the UK (known as 'exceptional assurance'). If this is granted, it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave to remain has expired. If you've already completed the form, you don't have to do so again.

- Reuse of biometric information by UKVI

UKVI has produced guidance for its staff on when they can reuse your biometric details for an extension application or application to switch to another immigration route in the UK:

  • biometrics must have been enrolled post July 2015 or the applicant must already hold a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  • the new grant of leave must not exceed a period beyond 5 years from when the fingerprints were last enrolled
  • facial image must not be over 5 years old for persons aged over 16 and must not be over 2 years old for persons aged under 16

Further information is available on gov.uk.

- Information on working in the UK after 1 January 2021 for frontier workers

You're classed as a frontier worker if you're an EEA/Swiss national and you regularly commute to the UK because you're employed or self-employed here but live elsewhere. There are certain situations where you can keep your status while not working - these are explained on gov.uk.

The webpage also states that you'll need to apply for a frontier worker permit - we'll let you know as soon as there's any information on this new visa type.

- Applying for a visa if you're overseas and your Visa Application Centre is closed

Until at least 30 November 2020, you can attend a VAC anywhere in the world if there isn't one which is open in your home country, as long as you have the right to be in the other country. You’ll be able to make any type of application, but at the start of your application you must select the country where you'll submit your biometrics. 

Visit the immigration news archive page for older news.

Information for EEA/Swiss citizens post-Brexit

Now that the UK has left the EU, the immigration landscape looks significantly different for new EEA/Swiss colleagues. We've curated a selection of information below which we hope you'll find helpful. You can also sign up to our UK Visas and Immigration news update service

Moving to/living in the UK

Healthcare for EU citizens living in or moving to the UK

Benefits and pensions for EEA and Swiss citizens in the UK

Working in the UK 

EU Settlement Scheme (for EEA/Swiss citizens who were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 and their non-EEA/Swiss family members)

Skilled Worker Visa (for eligible non-UK/Irish citizens in eligible skilled occupations in the UK)

Frontier Worker permit (for EEA/Swiss citizens who live in the EEA/Switzerland but travel to the UK for work)

Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange visa (T5) (for sponsored researchers to come to the UK to collaborate with counterparts at Leeds for up to 2 years) 

Other work visas

EEA-qualified and Swiss healthcare professionals practising in the UK

Social security contributions for workers coming to the UK from the EEA or Switzerland

Visiting the UK 

Visiting the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen (note: there are very specific limitations on entering the UK as a visitor)

Healthcare for visitors to the UK from the EU

How the UK's National Health Service (NHS) charges overseas visitors for NHS healthcare

If you have any queries, please contact us

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 gov.uk.

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 gov.uk.

  • 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 gov.uk 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 gov.uk 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 immigration@leeds.ac.uk *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 immigration@leeds.ac.uk.

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 immigration@leeds.ac.uk 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 gov.uk 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 gov.uk 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 gov.uk 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 immigration@leeds.ac.uk.  If you've got a query about working overseas, please email InternationalHR@leeds.ac.uk.

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 hr@leeds.ac.uk 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

From https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-entitlements-migrant-health-guide

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: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england​

Travel guidance for the educa​tion sector: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/covid-19-travel-guidance-for-the-education-sector

General​​ guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance​ and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

Information for those ​​with expired/expiriing visas who are in the UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-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 admin.ukvas@soprasteria.com 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 admin.ukvas@soprasteria.com 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.

Focus on visas - the application process

There are three main visa types for international staff working at the University.

  1. Global Talent: for those considered to be a leader, or future leader, in their field
  2. Skilled Worker: for skilled workers with an employment contract
  3. Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange visa (T5)for researchers who have financial sponsorship

The process varies, but is broadly as follows.

Getting a Certificate of Sponsorship from the University

Skilled Worker and Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange visa (T5)

Your School will liaise with you to get the information they need to allow the University to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to you. Once this is done, a copy will be emailed to you with information you will need when you complete your visa application form and notes on next steps.

Once you have the CoS, you should then apply for your visa.

Applying for endorsement

Global Talent

Applying for Global Talent has two stages:

  1. Applying for endorsement
  2. Applying for a visa

You can choose from five 'paths' when you apply for endorsement - please visit our 'Focus on visas - Global Talent Visa' page for more information.   

Submitting your visa application

Once you have your CoS, or your endorsement has been confirmed, you should apply for your visa.  Please note that you cannot apply more than 3 months before the start date of your job.

Applications must be made online; the appropriate link will depend on which visa type you apply for, and from where (within the UK or overseas). This will also determine the cost of the application fee.

You may need some or all of the following before you submit your visa application:

  • Proof that you have a sufficient knowledge of the English language (see link or download below for more information)
  • An Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate for jobs in certain fields (this is currently required for students, and is being introduced for anyone who submits a visa application from 21 May 2021)
  • A tuberculosis test result if you are from a listed country
  • A criminal record certificate for certain jobs

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

You may have to pay the IHS as part of your visa application:

  • for more than 6 months, if you’re applying outside the UK
  • for any length of time, if you’re applying inside the UK

The current cost (as at April 2021) is £624 per year of the visa. For example, if you are applying for a 3 year visa, the IHS charge will be £1,872. This cost must be paid when you apply for your visa, and any family members will also need to pay this (there is a reduced rate for children).

You can use the IHS checker to find out if you will need to pay. 

If you are liable for the IHS, you will need to pay it even if you have private medical insurance. 

Biometric appointments

Note: not applicable to EEA/Swiss nationals with a biometric passport 

If your visa is for more than 6 months, you will need to attend a biometric appointment in your country of application. Once you submit your visa application, you will be able to book an appointment at a VAC (overseas Visa Application Centre) or UKVCAS (UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services) centre. You must attend a biometric appointment within 45 days of paying for your visa application. If you do not book an appointment, you will be sent a reminder which will allow further a specified number of days to enrol. If biometrics are not enrolled within the specified period your visa application may be rejected.

The UK government is aware of difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and are generally understanding if an appointment is not available within 45 days. However, you should attend an appointment as soon as you can.

Travelling to the UK (if applicable) and starting work

If you are coming to Leeds from overseas, you should not travel outside the validity period of your entry clearance permission.

  • Non-EEA/Swiss nationals, and EEA/Swiss nationals who do not have a biometric passport, will receive an entry clearance vignette (sticker) in their passport which will have "valid from" and "valid to" dates.
  • EEA/Swiss nationals who have a biometric passport will be able to access their details electronically.

If you are already in the UK, you can start work once you have confirmation from UK Visas and Immigration that your visa application has been granted. 

All staff must provide right to work documents to the University before starting work.

If you have any queries, please contact your HR hub or email Staff Immigration.

Focus on visas - Global Talent Visa

The Global Talent Visa (GTV) is an immigration route for talented and promising individuals in specific sectors wishing to work in the UK. It replaced the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa in February 2020.

There are two application stages, and full guidance on each is available as follows:

Endorsement: https://royalsociety.org/grants-schemes-awards/global-talent-visa/

Visa: https://www.gov.uk/global-talent 

Endorsement

Within the GTV route, there are five possible 'paths' to endorsement:

  1. Academic and research appointments
  2. Individual fellowships
  3. Endorsed funders
  4. Peer review
  5. Prestigious prizes

Each path has its own requirements and criteria. To help you to decide which path is right for you (or, if you already know, the allow the University to provide the supporting documents you need), please complete the checklist. If you are not sure which path is right for you, please start with 'Academic and research appointments' - you will have the opportunity to check other paths.

You will normally receive a decision on your endorsement application:

  • within 1 week if you are applying under path 1, 2 or 3. 
  • within 8 weeks if you are applying under path 4.

Note: holders of certain prestigious prizes can apply for a visa without going through the initial endorsement stage. The list of eligible awards and further information is available on gov.uk.

Endorsement applications for academic and research roles are decided as follows:

  • The British Academy: humanities and social sciences
  • Royal Academy of Engineering: engineering
  • The Royal Society: natural and medical sciences
  • UK Research and Innovation: all endorsement applications submitted under the 'Endorsed funders' path

The full list of eligible disciplines and sub-disciplines per endorsing body is available on gov.uk.

The cost of endorsement is £456 (May 2021). 

Once you receive your endorsement confirmation, you must apply for your visa within 3 months. 

Visa

Ordinarily you will apply for a visa once your endorsement application has been granted. However, if your existing UK visa is expiring soon, you can apply for endorsement and visa at the same time.

If you are outside the UK, you should submit your visa application within 3 months of your expected date of travel to the UK.  If you are already in the UK on another visa type, or extending your existing Global Talent visa, you should apply within 3 months of your current visa's expiry date.

You will usually receive a decision on your visa application:

  • within 3 weeks if you are applying outside the UK
  • within 8 weeks if you are applying inside the UK

You may be able to pay for a faster decision (see "Visa" link above).

You can choose how long your visa will be valid for - 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 years. This can be extended on an ongoing basis. The cost of the visa application is £152 (May 2021). 

Visa applications are decided by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), a department within the UK Home Office. The University has no influence over decision-making by the endorsing bodies or by UKVI.

Family members

You can bring family (spouse, partner, children) to the UK as your dependents - they can quote your visa application reference number on their own application, and do not need to apply for endorsement first.

The cost of a Global Talent dependent visa is £608 (May 2021).

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

When you and your family apply for a Global Talent visa, you will also need to pay the IHS which will allow you to access the UK's National Health Service (NHS). The total cost will depend on the length of visa, and is £624 per year (May 2021), or £470 per year (May 2021) for children under 18. You can calculate how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

If you have any queries, please speak to your local HR hub.

Focus on visas - Visitors

If you are coming to the University but not as an employee or a student, there are three potential immigration routes for which you could apply: Visitor, Permitted Paid Engagement or Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange (T5).

Each immigration route has strict rules on what you can do and how long you can stay in the UK.

You can download more detailed information at the bottom of this page, and you may find the following Home Office links useful:

Standard Visitor (including business and academic visitors)

Under the Standard Visitor immigration route, you can:

  • take part in research or an exchange programme as an academic
  • undertake certain business activities, for example attending a meeting
  • have a holiday or visit your family and friends (tourism)
  • do a short course of recreational study
  • receive private medical treatment

You cannot:

  • be employed in the UK, whether paid or unpaid
  • be paid by any UK source, apart from reasonable expenses to cover the cost of your travel and subsistence
  • be self-employed
  • do a work placement or internship
  • provide goods and/or services
  • claim state benefits ('no access to public funds')
  • study for more than 6 months

Permitted Paid Engagement

You may be eligible for a Permitted Paid Engagement visa if you:

  • are invited by the University as an expert in your field; and
  • want to come to the UK to do specific paid work without having to be sponsored under the points-based visa system, and
  • are staying for no longer than 1 month

You can:

  • be a student examiner or assessor
  • take part in selection panels as a highly qualified academic
  • give lectures, as long as these don not amount to a part-time or full-time role
  • take part in arts, entertainment or sporting activities including broadcasting
  • do minor activities related to your work or business overseas, such as attend meetings

You cannot:

  • do paid work unrelated to your main job or area of expertise at home, other than what is allowed by your visa
  • extend this visa or switch to another visa while you are in the UK
  • live in the UK for extended periods
  • get public funds (benefits)
  • bring family members (‘dependents’) with you on your application - they must apply separately

Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange (T5)

This immigration route is for researchers (which includes academics, researchers, scientists, research engineers or other skilled research technology specialists) who are financially sponsored to come to the UK to collaborate with colleagues at the University for up to 2 years.

You will need visa sponsorship from the University. Your funding must meet UK National Minimum Wage, and this cannot be in the form of savings and/or loans from family/friends.

You can:

  • work in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
  • do a second job for up to 20 hours per week, as long as it is on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list or in the same profession as your substantive role
  • study (for some courses you’ll need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate)
  • apply to change (‘switch’) to a Global Talent visa without having to leave the UK if you wish

You cannot:

  • take a permanent job, even at the end of your visa
  • get public funds 

Focus on visas - Academic Technology Approval Scheme

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is a UK government scheme which, since 2008, has provided a vetting service for students from certain countries who have an offer to study at a UK HEI in certain, sensitive subjects. The aim is to prevent technology research/knowledge from being used to support military programmes “of significant concern” overseas.

The Home Office has decided to extend the scheme to workers and therefore it is now a legal requirement for relevant individuals to hold an ATAS certificate. 

Who needs an ATAS certificate

Everyone who is carrying out research in the UK (whether employed or visiting, including academics whose work involves an element of research), if they meet the following criteria:

  1. applying for a new visa or to extend existing permission to stay in the UK under the Skilled Worker, Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) or Visitor immigration routes*, and
  2. not a citizen of an exempt country. and
  3. researching in a relevant field.

*Other visa routes, such as Global Talent and PBS dependent, do not currently require an ATAS certificate.

Existing staff who meet the criteria do not need to apply for an ATAS certificate unless/until they are applying to extend their permission to stay in the UK, or to switch into one of the above immigration routes from another route.

How to decide whether an ATAS certificate is required

  1. Under which immigration route are you coming to the UK? If it is not one of the routes mentioned above, or you are not coming to the UK at all, you will not need an ATAS certificate
  2. Are you a citizen of an exempt country? These are countries in the EEA, and 8 others
  3. Skilled Worker and Temporary Worker –Government Authorised Exchange (T5) only: is the SOC code under which your job is classified on the list? Our ‘usual’ codes are 2119 for research roles, and 2311 for teaching – both of these are on the list but you should check with your School/Institute contact.
  4. Does the job involve an element of research, even if it is not a ‘research role’?
  5. Is the field of research on the list of CAH3 codes? These are quite wide-ranging and would cover many areas of research in Arts, Humanities and Cultures, Biological Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Environment and Medicine & Health.

You can check whether an ATAS certificate will be required by completing our form.

When and how to apply

The processing time for applications will be 10 working days between October and March, and 15 working days between April and September from the date the application is submitted. The application is free of charge.

  • Skilled Worker and Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5): you must provide evidence that you have applied for an ATAS certificate before we can assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to you. You will need to submit your ATAS certificate when you apply for your visa. If you need a certificate, but do not provide one, your visa application will be refused. 
  • Visitors: you will need to show your certificate to the University before you are permitted to carry out any activity. If you do not have a certificate when you arrive in the UK, you will not be allowed to start the engagement.
The application form will ask you for the following information:

  1. A detailed description of your area of research - the University will provide you with a research statement which will give this description and other relevant information
  2. Your personal details - please be careful completing this, as mistakes may affect or delay your visa application
  3. Your spouse's information (if applicable)
  4. Your contact details
  5. Undergraduate/postgraduate studies
  6. Other relevant studies
  7. Published papers
  8. Your employment history
  9. Details of your financial sponsor (if you are grant-funded, this should be the funding body or, if your salary comes from a core-funded University of Leeds budget, this will be the University of Leeds, email rp_applications@adm.leeds.ac.uk)
  10. Contact details for 2 referees who have known you for at least 3 years. At least one must be from the academic sector. If you have work experience, you should include a referee from your employment. A referee from your home country is preferable, but it is not essential if you have studied and/or worked in another country. Family members are not accepted as referees.

You can download a copy of this page below, and you may find the links below useful.

Points to note

An ATAS certificate is applicable to one university/research institute. If you are conducting research at more than one you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate for each, which details the research you will specifically undertake at each HEI/research institute.

Skilled Worker and Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) visa holders who are undertaking a course of study will need a single ATAS certificate for work and study, but it must detail both the research project and study activities.

If you are a student in the UK and you have an ATAS certificate which covers your studies, you cannot use it when you apply for a work visa. If you are switching in the UK into Skilled Worker or Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate.

Contact us

If you have any queries, please email InternationalHR@leeds.ac.uk.