XClose

UCL Human Resources

Home
Menu

Immigration

Summary of UK immigration information relevant to university staff

Contents


Introduction

1. When working and living in the UK, you might require a visa. There are different types of visas depending on your circumstances. If you are unsure if you need a visa and if so, which one would be applicable to you, you can use the Government’s checking serviceApplicants being sponsored by UCL must intend and be able to undertake the role applied for and must not undertake any other employment, other than work permitted by their visa conditions.  

Common Travel Area

2. The Common Travel Area (CTA) includes the UK, Channel Islands, isle of Man and Ireland. These citizens have the right to work and move freely in and out of the UK without permission. However, the Right to Work arrangements will still apply. 

Skilled Worker Visa

3. The Skilled Worker Route (SWR) is the most common route for EU and non-EU nationals who wish to take up a job offer in the UK.

4. The SWR applies at and above Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 3. The Government provides up-to-date information about what qualification levels mean.  Review the Skilled Worker Visa: eligible occupations and codes before a role is advertised, to identify whether UCL may be able to sponsor an applicant to perform the role.

5. Please also read the section on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) if any research to be undertaken by the individual requires an ATAS certificate.

6. Points are assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and shortage occupations and visas are awarded to those who gain sufficient points.

7. A job offer must meet the applicable minimum salary threshold. This is the higher of either:

  • the general salary threshold set at £26,200
  • £10.75 per hour, or
  • the specific salary requirement for their occupation, known as the ‘going rate’

8. There are different salary rules for some workers in certain health or education jobs, for ‘new entrants’ at the start of their careers, those taking up shortage occupations and those able to obtain 'tradeable points'. Based on the premise that 70 points are required to qualify for permission to work and that some characteristics are mandatory (i.e. not ‘tradeable’), the  system includes the following:

CharacteristicsTradeable?Points
All of the following criteria must be met to be eligible to apply for a visa (so the individual needs to score all 50 points):  
Offer of job from approved sponsorNo20
Job at appropriate skill level (e.g. RQF level 3 (A levels) and above)No20
Speaks English at required level*No10
The following criteria are tradeable and applicants must score at least 20 points:  
Salary of £20,960 (minimum) - £23,579 or 80% of going rate (whichever is higher) or 70% of going rate for New Entrants (whichever is higher)Yes0
Salary of £23,580 - £26,199 or 90% of going rate (whichever is higher)Yes10
Salary of £26,200 or above or going rate (whichever is higher)Yes20
Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC)Yes20
Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the jobYes10
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the jobYes20

* Further details statement (see paragraphs 22-25)

Applicants can obtain a further 20 ‘tradeable’ points as shown above.

New Entrants 

9. The salary rate for New Entrants will be 30% lower than the rate for experienced workers in any occupation, however, the minimum of £20,960 must always be met. You can use the flowchart below to help you determine whether the person to whom a post will be offered qualifies as a New Entrant. 


All postdoc and lecturer roles may qualify as a New Entrant provided the ‘4 year override’ rule does not apply. 

Going rates 

10. Where the individual is an ‘experienced worker’, they must meet the ‘going rate’ for the role as identified in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code, or £26,200, whichever is higher (unless they can trade points). Some jobs will have a higher salary threshold. The ‘going rate’ can be pro-rated but salary thresholds cannot. This means that part-time staff will need to meet the pro-rated going rate but must still earn above the minimum threshold.

11. Some worked examples based on UCL salaries for the academic year 2023/24 are available below to guide those wishing to calculate the points scored by typical roles. These examples are for reference purposes only and the score achieved for each post under the PBS will depend often upon the individual circumstances of the person appointed to any given role.


Eligibility for PhD points

12. UCL needs to justify the relevance of a PhD to an advertised role. The individual applicant must hold a PhD rather than the role itself being at PhD level. For a full list of occupations potentially eligible for tradeable PhD points see Annex B Table 24 of the Government's Further Details Statement.

Tradeable points combinations

 How to use combinations of tradeable points:

Category of applicantSalary requirements
New entrant - under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional trainingMust be paid the higher of either £20,960, or minimum 70% of going rate for role.
Job on the Shortage Occupation listMust be paid the higher of either £20,960, or minimum 80% of going rate for role.
Person holds STEM PhD that is relevant to the jobMust be paid the higher of either £20,960, or minimum 80% of going rate for role.
Person holds non-STEM PhD that is relevant to the jobMust be paid the higher of either £23,580, or minimum 90% of going rate for role.
None of the above applyMust be paid the higher of either £26,200, or the going rate for role.   

Global Talent Visa 

13. Those endorsed by a relevant body who have achieved the required level of points are able to enter the UK without a job offer. There is a GTV fast-track endorsement for individuals who have accepted a job as a Professor, Associate Professor, or equivalent position such as Senior Group Leader at UCL, provided certain recruitment requirements are met. Please also read the section on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) if any research to be undertaken by the individual requires an ATAS certificate.

Please download the UCL Global Talent Visa guidance pack for more information.


14. Government guidance on the GTV is also available. The four routes available under the GTV are summarised below:

14.1 Have you accepted the offer of a senior appointment at an institution approved by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society?

  • If you have been offered the role of Professor, Associate Professor, Reader, or equivalent position such as Senior Group Leader, and you meet the necessary recruitment requirements, you need a statement of guarantee from the Director of the Professional Services Hub at UCL to support your application for a fast-track visa.

14.2. Have you been awarded an individual fellowship on the list approved by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society?

  • If your fellowship is listed and you hold it currently or have done so within the last 12 months, you must submit a copy of the award letter as part of your fast-track visa application.

14.3. Are you working on a research grant* issued by an endorsed funder on the list approved by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)?
 

  • If you as an individual or your role is named in a successful grant application from an endorsed funder, you need to submit both the award letter and statement of guarantee from the employing or hosting institution as part of your application for a fast-track visa. The funder and the institution must both be on the approved UKRI list.

* Eligibility extends to the principal investigator (PIs), co-investigators (Co-Is) and team roles stated in the grant application at graduate level and above – for example, postdoctoral researchers, research assistants, technologists and methodologists. Eligible individuals must spend at least 50% of their work time on fulfilling the grant conditions (PIs and Co-Is holding multiple grants must spend at least 50% in aggregate). A minimum award threshold of £30,000 applies and the minimum grant duration is 24 months. Individuals must have at least one year left of their employment contract to be eligible.

14.4. Check the eligibility and assessment criteria for standard endorsement and submit an application for peer review by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering or Royal Society.

15. There are further endorsement routes through the Global Talent Visa:

  • Arts and Culture endorsement
  • Architecture endorsement
  • Fashion Design Industry endorsement
  • Film and Television endorsement
  • Digital Technology endorsement

More information about these routes are available on the Government website for the Global Talent Visa

Graduate Visa 

16. This has been launched in the summer of 2021. International students who graduate in the UK can apply to stay here once they have graduated. Undergraduates and Masters students can use this route for a maximum of two years without a firm job offer and PhD graduates for up to three years. More information about this route can be found on the webpages of the UCL Student Immigration Advisory Team. Read the section on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) where any research to be undertaken by the individual requires an ATAS certificate. 

High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa

17. This route, which is not sponsored opened 30 May 2022.  It is for recent graduates from top universities to come to the UK for up to two years (three years for PhD graduates), following successful completion of an eligible course of study equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree-level or above, subject to eligibility e.g. financial requirements. The study must have been with an institution listed on the Global Universities List.  The list will be compiled annually and comprises eligible non-UK institutions that are included in the list of top 50 universities in at least two of the following ranking systems:

  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings
  • Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings
  • The Academic Ranking of World Universities

18. Graduates can apply within five years of graduation. Overseas nationals in the UK under this route will be able to work in any role. The HPI route is not a route to settlement, but a dependent partner or dependent children can apply on this route. Please also read the section on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) if any research to be undertaken by the individual requires an ATAS certificate.     

Health and Care Visa

19. The Health and Care Visa is one of the fast track entry routes for individuals working in eligible health occupations with a job offer from the NHS, social care sector, or employers and organisations which provide services to the NHS, to move to the UK with their families.

20. As well as reduced fees and dedicated support for the application process, those who are eligible are exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge. 

21. Roles qualifying for this visa include: Biological Scientists and Biochemists, Physical Scientists and Medical Practitioners. A full list of qualifying roles and their SOC codes is contained in Annex D of the UK’s Points-Based Immigration System Further Details Statement. These roles entitle eligible applicants to 20 tradeable points, if the salary meets the national pay scale and is above £20,960. Please read the section  on the Academic Technology 23. Approval Scheme (ATAS) if any research to be undertaken by the individual requires an ATAS certificate. 

Permitted Paid Engagement

22. Academic visitors to UCL from outside the UK and Ireland who are asked to deliver one-off lectures can use a Permitted Paid Engagement Visa to do so.   

UK Visitor Visa - Academic, Research and Teaching

23. In accordance with the government visitor visa guidance, staff from an academic institution overseas may apply for a visitor visa to:

  • take part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts
  • carry out research during a sabbatical 

24. UCL must not pay those with a visitor visa to work at UCL. The Academic member of staff they will collaborate with may need to provide a letter confirming the arrangements for the visitor's research, exchange or clinical practice.  Please also read the section on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) if any research to be undertaken by the individual requires an ATAS certificate.  

Further information about eligibility and how to apply can be found on the government visitor visa webpage.  

Employment of Individuals on a Student Visa

25. It is UCL’s responsibility to ensure that if we employ anyone living in the UK with a Student Visa (previously Tier 4) they must not work for more than the maximum number of hours permitted by their visa. Here is an Excel Spreadsheet Timesheet that you may use to assist you in complying with the rules with regards to employing anyone with a Student Visa. UCL’s Student Immigration Advisory Team provides a range of useful advice for international students about working in the UK. Please also read the section on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) if any research to be undertaken by the individual requires an ATAS certificate.

 26. International Students are not able to bring dependents to the UK, unless the dependents are on a postgraduate course currently designated as a research programme. This will only apply to students starting courses from 1 January 2024.   

Government Authorised Exchange Visa (Temporary Work)

27. The Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange Visa is for those wanting to come to the UK for a short time to undertake work experience or training, an Overseas Government Language Programme, research or fellowship through an approved government authorised exchange scheme. Those wanting to apply will need a Certificate of Sponsorship from UCL and must meet any other relevant eligibility requirements. Please also read the section on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) if any research to be undertaken by the individual requires an ATAS certificate. 

Creative Visa (Temporary Work)

28. A creative worker is someone who works in the creative industry, for example an actor, dancer, musician or film crew member. This visa has replaced the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Creative and Sporting) Visa. To apply for this visa, individuals need to have a Certificate of Sponsorship from UCL and must meet any other relevant eligibility requirements. This visa is for temporary workers coming to the UK to work or perform as entertainers or creative artists for up to 12 months.

Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa

29. This is a bespoke immigration route to enable British National (Overseas) (BN(O) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, to move to the UK to work, live and study.

30. This route opened in January 2021. Applications can be made to this route from inside or outside the UK. More information about this route can be found on the webpages of the UCL Student Immigration Advisory Team.   

Frontier Worker Permit for EEA Nationals

31. Since December 2020, those not normally resident in the UK intending to visit UCL in the capacity of guest lecturers or external examiners for example have been eligible  to apply for a Frontier Workers permit. This permit has been created for EEA nationals living outside the UK but commuting to work here. To be eligible, such individuals must have visited the UK to work before the 31 December 2020 but should live outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 month period. Permits can be issued for up to 5 years and may be re-issued, provided the permit holder continues to work in the UK in the manner described above.  

ATAS

32. To research certain subjects at postgraduate level or above, academic visitors may need to get an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before coming to UCL premises.  The UCL Principal Investigator for the research project should draft the description for the collaborator to include in their application for the ATAS certificate

33. Individuals who apply for entry to the UK under the Skilled Worker or Government Authorised Exchange Route, will need to apply for, and be granted, their ATAS certificate before applying for a UK visa or permission to stay. They do not need to have a final employment contract before applying for an ATAS certificate. Where someone enters the UK under the Global Talent Visa, Graduate Visa, Health and Care Visa, High Potential Individual (HPI), Student Visa or the UK Visitor Visa, they will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before beginning any relevant research activity in the UK. UCL must check the ATAS certificate before allowing the research to start, and if a certificate is not provided the individual will not be permitted on-site.   

EU Settlement Scheme

34. The deadline for most people to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme has now expiredFor information on late applications and reasonable grounds for a delayed application see the Government advice. Applications may continue to be made if that deadline did not apply, or the applicant has ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying by the deadline. From September 2023 the Home office will be automatically extending leave for two years for anyone who has pre-settled status in the UK but has not yet obtained settled status. A new Right to Work check will need to made once the individual is notified their pre-settled status has been extended by the Home Office.

35. The Home Office also intends to automatically switch those on pre-settled status to settled status once they are eligible without individuals having to make a settled status application.  This will ensure that those with pre-settled status do not lose their immigration status if they do not apply or qualify for settled status before their pre-settled status expires. 

The Employer Checking Service

36. The Employer Checking Service (ECS) is used to request verification from the Home Office that an individual has the right to work in the UK when they have an outstanding application or appeal and cannot present valid right to work documents before they start work as a casual or employee.