• Home
  • Login
  • Welcome to the Staff Intranet
YOU ARE HERE: Skip Navigation LinksEdinburgh Napier Staff Intranet > Service Depts > Human Resources > Recruitment > Visas & Immigration > Immigration Rules For Visitors
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, except specific paid permitted engagements (see https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor/paid-engagement-event​)

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 (max. 12 month visit)

• Carry out research, either​ as part of their job or independently (max. 6 month visit)
• Carry out their own research during a sabbatical from an overseas HEI (max. 12 month visit)

Evidence is required that both institutions have agreed the exchange and that it will lead to a reciprocal visit by a UK aca​demic 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 the People Team must approve all international academic visitor requests to ensure the standard visitor visa conditions will be satisfied and can provide support with invitation letters, where the visit is approved. The People 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 assessment to determine if ATAS clearance is needed in advance of the academic undertaking research activity in order to comply with UKVI legislation.

Document check

The People Team 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 the People Team in advance of commencing research activity.