Immigration information for visitors
Under the new immigration rules, there are several different visa routes which non-UK academics residing outside the UK may travel to the UK under.
As visa and entry requirements are subject to change and there are different visa options for international visitors, depending on the purpose of their visit, as a first step, we strongly advise that any international academic visitors should first check the visa checker tool: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa
Standard Visitor Visa - Academic Visitor
Work is not permitted on the visitor visa route.
An academic may be eligible to apply as an ‘academic visitor’ under the Standard Visitor visa route if they are visiting the UK to:
• Take part in formal exchange arrangements with a UK counterpart
• Carry out their own research during a sabbatical from an overseas HEI
Evidence is required that both institutions have agreed the exchange and that it will lead to a reciprocal visit by a UK academic to the home institution. Such exchanges can involve some collaborative research; or independent research for their own purposes, if the academic is on sabbatical leave from their home institution. Although this independent research may include some interaction with staff at a UK university or use of its facilities, the academic visitor is not permitted to take part in any collaborative research with UK based academics e.g., the academic could not join a research group in the UK.
If the academic visitor is applying for a standard visa as a visiting academic they can stay in the UK for up to 12 months and must be highly qualified within their own field of expertise; and currently working in that field at an academic institution of higher education overseas (not including private businesses).
Note: Individuals must apply for a biometric residence permit if they are staying in the UK as an academic for longer than 6 months.
The Dean of School in conjunction with HR must approve all international academic visitor requests to ensure the standard visitor visa conditions will be satisfied. HR Services Team cannot advise the academic visitor on any visa questions or assist with the visa application.
The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) applies to all international students and researchers (apart from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control and are intending to study or research at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects.
The subjects and research areas are those where knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery.
Where an academic visitor will undertake postgraduate research activity Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
clearance may be needed, depending on the research subject area. If ATAS
clearance is needed, this must be in place before the academic undertakes any research at the university and a copy of the ATAS certificate provided to Human Resources.
More information about ATAS: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/academic-technology-approval-scheme. If you are hosting an academic, you may be asked to complete an ATAS
determine if ATAS clearance is needed in advance of the academic undertaking research activity in order to comply with UKVI legislation.
Visit the UK on a Permitted Paid Engagement Visa - Short Term Engagements
A Permitted Paid Engagement visa allows paid short-term engagements for those with defined skills and expertise - including some academic activities.
Non-UK academics residing outside the UK may apply to come to the UK for an engagement of up to one month without the need to be sponsored under the Points-Based Immigration Scheme.
Permitted activities include:
- Student examiner or assessor
- Taking part in selection panels for the education, arts or research organisation they are invited by as a highly qualified academic
- Giving lectures, as long as they are not in a formal teaching role
The individual must be highly qualified in their own field of expertise and be invited by a UK higher education institution to:
- Examine students
- Chair or participate in selection panels as part of that institution's quality assurance processes.
The individual must be invited by a UK higher education institution to give an individual or series of lectures in their field of expertise.
A formal invitation is required to undertake the pre-arranged engagement to show that the engagement relates to:
- the individual's expertise and/or qualifications
- their full-time occupation in their home country
The Dean of School in conjunction with HR must approve all international academic visitor requests to ensure the standard visitor visa conditions will be satisfied and would issue any formal written documentation to confirm the approval. HR Services Team cannot advise the academic visitor on any visa questions or assist with the visa application.
Human Resources will complete a document check with Academic Visitors to ensure that they have the permission to undertake the activity they are visiting for. This must be completed on arrival in the UK before they commence the visit activity, and they will be required to visit Sighthill campus with their original passport and visa (where applicable) and evidence of UK arrival date where this is not listed on a visa. Where ATAS is required for Researchers (see ATAS information above), a copy of the ATAS clearance certificate must also be provided to Human Resources in advance of commencing research activity.