UK VISAs and Immigration – Information for Current and Prospective Staff

Information Updated: July 2021

Here at the University of Lincoln, we welcome thousands of new members to our community each year with the benefit of sharing views and ideas from all around the globe. As the UK has now left the European Union and, with the introduction of the revised Points Based Immigration system, we will use this page to keep you up to date with the latest information, advice and guidance as it emerges.

“We actively seek to create One Community where, whoever you are, wherever you come from, you are part of our University and you can be safe enough to be challenged and supported to grow and develop. ‘Wherever you are from, Lincoln is your home – a base for discovery, learning, and exploring your world and your future.’ (University of Lincoln – One Community).”

 

1. Brexit & Guidance for EU, EEA & Swiss Citizens

1.1          Arrived before the end of the Brexit transition period (30 December 2020)

Information for European nationals who were already resident/arrived in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition period.

– Where we refer to European or EU nationals or citizens we are including individuals from countries in the EU, EEA and EFTA.
– For translations of guidance on the EU Settlement Scheme in European languages please see the Home Office website

1.1.1 EU nationals and their family members who were resident in the UK before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020)should have applied for Pre-Settled or Settled status before the 30 June 2021 deadline. If an individual has reasonable grounds for missing this deadline, however, they may be able to submit a late application. The Home Office have published information for late applicants and more information can be found in Home Office guidance on applying for Pre-Settled or Settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme. Citizens advice are also providing a free advice service, as sponsored by the Home Office: EU Settlement Scheme – Citizens Advice South Lincolnshire (citizensadvicesouthlincs.org.uk)

1.1.2   Updating details once you have Pre-Settled or Settled status

Home Office guidance explains that those who have been granted Pre-Settled or Settled status must then keep their details updated to be able to view and prove their rights. The online update service is to be used to report changes to the following details:

  • mobile phone number
  • email address
  • name
  • identity document/ passport
  • UK address

The Home Office also provide a useful guide on how you view and prove your Pre-Settled or Settled status.

1.1.3   Continuity of Residency

Due to the Pandemic and a greater number of individuals working from a non-UK location the Home Office have outlined in their guidance a wide range of circumstances which may be seen as ‘important reasons’ for a longer absence which would not break continuous residency for Settled or Pre-Settled status requirements.

1.1.4 Family members of EU nationals who have Pre-Settled or Settled statuscan continue to join them in the UK but will require an EUSS Family Permit before travelling to the UK, and when applying will have to evidence that their relationship existed prior to 1 January 2021.

1.1.5   What if I do not primarily live in the UK?

A Frontier Worker permit allows EU nationals to come to the UK to work whilst living elsewhere. Applications to the Frontier worker route remain open and individuals may be eligible if all of the following apply:

  • you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
  • you live outside of the UK
  • you worked in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • you have kept working in the UK at least once every 12 months since you started working here

Ref: Frontier Worker permit:Gov.uk

There are no fees to apply for the permit, and individuals do not have to pay the immigration health surcharge although, payment may be required to submit the biometric information (photograph or fingerprints).

1.1.6   What if I have Indefinite Leave to remain in the UK, British or Irish Citizenship, do I still need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

Individuals do not need to apply if they have: indefinite leave to enter the UK, indefinite leave to remain in the UK, British or Irish citizenship (including ‘dual citizenship’). See https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/if-you-have-permanent-residence-or-indefinite-leave-to-remain. However, if individuals choose to apply (and meet all the other conditions), individuals will receive ‘indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme’ – also known as settled status.

1.2      Arriving After Brexit (from 1 January 2021) 

Information for European nationals arriving in the UK from 2021 after the end of the transition period.

1.2.1 EU/EEA and Swiss Nationals (arriving in the UK after 1st January 2021) and Non-EU nationals (arriving in the UK after 1st December 2020) joining the University will fall under the revised Points Based Immigration System (PBS) and require a relevant work visa in advance of travel to the UK.

2. Information for Current Colleagues –with existing Tier 2 visas

2.1. I have an existing Tier 2 visa; how will the revised immigration system affect me?

Existing visa rights will continue until/if renewal is required and at which point either a Certificate of Sponsorship under the new Points Based System will be necessary/ an alternative visa sought, as appropriate.

On 6th March 2021 the government made a further update to the Points Based Immigration system rules and determined that existing Tier 2 holders would not need to meet the revised criteria in order to transfer onto a Skilled Worker (SW) visa. Specifically, under the SW Route the requirement to meet the criteria for HE level occupations meant a significant increase in the going rates for three of those occupations, namely 2113 Physical scientists, 2119 Natural and social science professionals not classified elsewhere and 2311 HE teaching professionals. A transitional arrangement has being introduced for Tier 2 (General) migrants who continue to be sponsored in these occupations which exempts them from the higher going rates when they apply to extend their permission or settle under the skilled worker rules. The previous going rates will continue to apply for these cases for applications made before 1 December 2026.

In some instances, an ATAS certification may be required prior to applying for a visa under the revised Immigration System.

The HR Department will support colleagues over the coming months and make contact with impacted individuals prior to visa expiration dates.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Emma Harrison in the first instance, HR Department.

3. Work Visas

Freedom of movement between the UK and EU ended on 31 December 2020 and the UK subsequently introduced a Points-Based Immigration System (PBS). The revised system treats EU and non-EU citizens equally. Anyone coming to the UK to work, excluding Irish citizens, will now need to apply for permission in advance; this will normally be in the form of a visa, passport or status under the EU settlement Scheme if resident in the UK before 31 December 2020.

Candidates may already have a ‘right to work’ in the UK through a Family visa, Ancestry visa or Global Talent visa for instance. However, for applicants who do not already possess a ‘right to work’ they will, in the main, require university sponsorship to apply for a ‘Skilled Worker visa’ or a ‘New Entrant visa’ under the PBS.

3.1 What should I do before making an application?

Please refer to UK Visas and Immigration to consider your eligibility requirements to work in the UK prior to your application.

4. Long-Term Work Visa

There are various work visas under the new Points Based Immigration System, both long and short term. Highlighted below are the ones typically utilised for University employment.

 4.1 The Skilled Worker Route

 The University may be able to sponsor candidates to enable them to apply for a Skilled Worker visa’ or a ‘Skilled Worker – New Entrant visa’ under the new PBS. The purpose of the Skilled Worker visa is to enable workers to come to the UK to take up a specific skilled role, listed under the ‘eligible skilled occupation’ with a Home Office-approved sponsor.

Such visas require candidates to meet a certain set of criteria to enable the University to apply for a ‘certificate of Sponsorship’ on the candidate’s behalf. It is important that candidates ensure they have sponsorship eligibility as the University may not be able to offer sponsorship if a candidate does not meet the required 70-point criteria.

To check eligibility for a Skilled Worker Visa please visit: UKVI Calculator

If the University can sponsor a candidate to subsequently apply for a work visa, please note that this does not automatically confirm a visa and an individual’s application for entry clearance or leave to remain.

4.2. Will I meet visa/sponsorship requirements?

It is important that applicants check their own eligibility for sponsorship for a skilled worker visa against the UKVI Calculator. The route has numerous variables specific to any one individual and the University are not authorised, by the UKVI, to provide specific advice/guidance on individual circumstances. Please see subsequent section for support available.

4.3 What is the duration of a Skilled Worker Visa?

Skilled Worker visas can be extended indefinitely (subject to the contractual position) provided the visa holder continues to meet eligibility requirements.

4.4 What is the Skilled worker Criteria?

The Skilled worker visa is a ‘points based’ route for which candidates must acquire a total of 70 points to enable the University to offer sponsorship and for the candidate to subsequently apply for a visa.

Applicants for the SW route must achieve an initial 50 points by meeting all three of the following mandatory criteria:

  1. Hold a job offer from an approved sponsor (the University of Lincoln is an approved sponsor) and associated Certificate of Sponsorship 20 points
  2. The job is at skill level RQF3 (A Level) or above 20 points

(NB. This refers to the skill level of the job, not any qualification(s) held by the individual themselves)

  1. English language is at least level B1 10 points

In addition to scoring 50-points for the above criteria, the applicant must score a further 20 ‘tradeable’ points.

Having met the 50-point mandatory criteria an applicant must accumulate a further 20 points through one of the following characteristics:

Tradeable Characteristics Points
Salary of £20,480 (minimum) or 80% of going rate (70% of going rate if new entrant) 0
Salary of £23,040 or 90% of going rate 10
Salary of £25,600 (general threshold) or going rate 20
Job in a shortage occupation as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee (see list here) 20
Education Qualification: PhD in a subject relevant to the job 10
Education Qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job 20
Applicant is a New Entrant to the Labour Market 20

NB: There are different salary rules for workers in certain health or education roles and for ’new entrants’ at the start of their career.

If the candidate’s salary meets the ‘going rate’ for the job the individual will automatically score the 20-points necessary to meet the 70-point requirement.

However, if the candidate’s salary does not meet the going rate, within the PBS a candidate can potentially ‘trade’ certain characteristics against the salary that they would otherwise be required to earn (the ‘going rate’) for their specific occupation, enabling them to come to the UK with a lower salary offer. The reduced salary must not however be less than the new entrant threshold of £20,480.

If the candidate is still unable to meet the 70-point criteria the University would not be able to offer sponsorship.

4.5 What is the Application Process for a Skilled Worker Visa?

After it has been confirmed that a successful applicant has met the points required for sponsorship for a Skilled Worker visa and having accepted a formal offer of employment from the University, Human Resources (HR) will require set information from candidates in order to complete a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The CoS is the University’s undertaking that the role is genuine and meets the necessary skill and salary requirements needed for sponsorship.

Applicants will be asked to confirm/ provide copies of the following information:

  • personal details are correct as stated on the job application form;
  • details of current UK visa (if applicable);
  • how the points criteria for sponsorship will be met; and
  • to upload/ send copies in support of a visa application e.g. copy of passport/ existing visa, copy of PhD qualification, UK ECCTIS reference number if relevant.

4.6 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

The HR Department will subsequently apply for a CoS and applicants will be asked to check and confirm the details on the CoS once assigned. The CoS number will subsequently form the detail required for individuals to make their Skilled Worker visa application.

4.7 Skilled Worker Visa Application Process

 How candidates apply depends on the following:

As part of the visa application, applicants will need to provide the relevant documents listed here, dependent on individual circumstances.

The visa application can be made in the country currently residing in and does not have to be an applicants country of origin.

A Skilled Worker visa can be applied for up to 3 months before the day due to start work in the UK. This date will be listed on the CoS.

4.8 What timescales may I need to be aware of?

It is important to factor additional timescales into expectations regarding joining the University, beyond those of travel/relocation plans. For instance:

  • if a candidate requires a UK ECCTIS code to confirm a PhD to meet the skilled worker points criteria– up to 30 days
  • Confirmation of a Certificate of Sponsorship – up to 30 days
  • visa processing times are currently approximately 3 weeks for candidates outside of the UK and potentially 8 weeks for candidates within the UK.

4.9 Will my qualification be recognised?

Candidates utilising a recognised PhD qualification awarded by an overseas institution to meet PhD points to qualify for the Skilled Worker visa, must first verify the qualification as genuine and equivalent to a UK PhD through UK ECCTIS. The UK ECCTIS reference number will be used as part of the certificate of sponsorship application.

The HR department will let candidates know if they are required to apply for a UK ECCTIS reference number.

4.10 Can I switch to a Skilled Worker visa?

Candidates may be able to apply to switch to a Skilled Worker visa if the individual is already in the UK on a different type of visa. A partner/ child would need to apply separately. Travel restrictions exist until a decision is received.

Candidates on one of the following visas would not be eligible to switch within the UK and would need to apply abroad: apply for a Skilled Worker visa from abroad:

4.11 Post Application

The Home Office will provide the result of an application by letter or email and this will explain next steps.

If successful, applicants will be given either:

  • a sticker (vignette) that goes in the passport if biometric information was provided at a visa application centre;
  • access to view immigration status information online if a smartphone app was used to prove identity.

The vignette or online immigration status information will display:

  • what an individual has been granted (for example, a Skilled Worker Visa)
  • the dates the visa is valid (start date and end date)
  • the conditions of the visa

A candidate must enter the UK before the vignette expires otherwise they will be required to reapply apply and pay for another. In making travel plans, the aim should be to arrive in the UK prior to the start date at the University.

If you get a vignette and you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months, you have to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) either before the vignette sticker expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.

4.12 Visa Conditions

The visa will be subject to all of the following conditions:

  • no access to public funds
  • work is permitted only in the job the applicant is being sponsored for
  • supplementary employment is permitted, providing the person continues to work in the job for which they are being sponsored
  • voluntary work is permitted

4.13 Alternative Long-Term Work Visas

5. Graduate Route

The Graduate route opened to international students on 1 July 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

This is a new visa route for international students who have completed an eligible course and provides a further 2 years (bachelors degree level of above) or 3 years for those awarded a DPhil to take full time employment at any skills level, including self-employment and voluntary work in the UK.

  • Applications must be made within the UK from individuals holding a Student/Tier 4 visa
  • The University must have notified the Home Office that they have completed their studies
  • Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension Scheme) visa holders will not be eligible
  • The Tier 4 (DES) route will close inline with the Graduate visa being launched
  • Family members who already hold a dependant visa will be able to remain in the UK, but it will not be possible  to have new dependants join the main applicant in the UK (apart from children born in the UK)
  • The route does not lead to settlement
  • Switching from a Graduate visa into Skilled Worker visa will be permitted
  • Study is restricted on this visa and is only permitted on courses that would not meet the requirements for student visa sponsorship.
  • There is no access to public funds
  • It is only possible to be granted permission under the Graduate route once. You cannot apply again, for example, if you were to undertake another course of study.
  • Applications need to be made in the UK whilst the current Tier 4/Student visa is still valid.
  •  

6. Investor, business development and talent visas

6.1 Global Talent Route

The Global Talent visa route is available for ‘talented and promising’ academics, researchers and specialists who are working in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, the social sciences, or the humanities. The Global Talent route is a two-stage application process, the first being to apply for endorsement followed by a separate application for a visa. The route does not require sponsorship from the University and the University will provide a statement of guarantee in support of the application.

There are four different routes through which a Global Talent Visa can be gained and once submitted a decision is normally received within 1 week for fast track applications and 5 weeks for standard.

6.1.1 Stage 1: Applying for Endorsement

Applying for and obtaining endorsement through one of the following four routes is the first stage of the application process. Applicants are encouraged to consider all endorsement options prior to making an application.

Academic/Research Appointment
Endorsement for individuals who have accepted a job in which they will have responsibility for academic, research or innovation leadership, or are an emerging leader. This includes but is not limited to Professor and Associate Professor appointments. The appointment must be at an approved UK higher education institution or research institute. Certain recruitment requirements must also be met. The application is assessed by fellows at the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering or Royal Society.

Individual Fellowship
Endorsement for individuals who have been awarded an ‘exceptional talent’ individual fellowship on the list approved by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society. The fellowship must be held currently or within the last 12 months. The application is assessed by fellows at the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering or Royal Society.

UK Research and Innovation
Endorsement for researchers and specialists, employed or hosted by a department, faculty or college, whose name or job title is specified in a successful grant application from an endorsed funder approved by UKRI.

Peer Review
Endorsement application for individuals who meet all eligibility criteria and demonstrate they are a proven leader within their field of expertise (Exceptional Talent) or have the potential to become a leader within their field of expertise (Exceptional Promise). The application is assessed by fellows at the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering or Royal Society.

6.1.2   Stage 2: Applying for a Visa

Once endorsement has been granted, the applicant can proceed with the visa application. The visa application must be submitted within three months from the date the endorsement decision was made. After this time, the endorsement will expire, and a new Stage 1 endorsement application would need to be submitted.

Applying Outside the UK 
Applicants applying from outside the UK, will need to submit the application in their home country or a country where they have the right to reside for 6 months or more.

Switching to Global Talent visa within the UK 
Applicants may apply to switch to a Global Talent visa from within the UK, provided they do not hold permission to stay in the UK under:

  • Visitor
  • Short-term Student
  • Parent of a Child Student
  • Seasonal Worker
  • Domestic Worker

Applications to switch to a Global Talent visa in these instances would need to take place abroad.

6.2 Alternative Investor, business development and talent visas

8. Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

From 21st May 2021 an ATAS certificate will be required for any individual entering the UK under the Skilled Worker, Graduate or Visitor routes to undertake research in programmes of concern/sensitive subjects and will include post-doctoral researchers, academic staff undertaking research (including those undertaking teaching and research). The rules also apply for existing Tier 2/5 colleagues extending their visas.

For visa applications made from 21 May applicants must provide a valid ATAS certificate if all of the following apply (NB the HR Department will determine if an ATAS certificate is required) :

  1. Individual is on a Graduate visa or being sponsored as a Skilled Worker/Visitor by a sponsor which is also a licensed Student sponsor
  2. Individual is not one of the exempt nationals listed in paragraph ATAS 3.1  (EU countries, the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, or the United States of America are exempt)
  3. Role is in one of the occupation codes listed in paragraph ATAS 1.2 
  4. The job includes an element of PhD-level research in a relevant subject (and these subjects are listed in paragraph ATAS 4.1 (All HE subject areas are identified by CAH codes.)

The ATAS requirement means that an applicant must obtain a free valid ATAS certificate prior to commencing research in any of the specified subjects or fields of research – Therefore a reminder that work/research should not commence remotely until an ATAS certificate and visa are confirmed.  Processing an ATAS application takes at least 10 working days, and can take 30 or more working days between April and September.

9. Support Available for Advice and Immigration Expenses

9.1 Immigration Advice

The University are not authorised, by the UKVI, to provide specific advice/guidance on individual circumstances. However, the University can signpost/ offer support through the following activities:

For specific advice the government provide an independent immigration advice service, as regulated by the Immigration Services Commissioner OISC.

For existing colleagues, the University’s Employee Assistance Programme, a free confidential support, counselling, information and legal advice service or alternatively the government provide an independent immigration advice service, as regulated by the Immigration Services Commissioner OISC.

The University’s Employee Assistance Programme, a free confidential support, counselling, information and legal advice service or alternatively the government provide an independent immigration advice service, as regulated by the Immigration Services Commissioner OISC.

9.2 Financial Assistance

The University provides the following support for staff to help with the cost of immigration expenses:

  • Relocation Procedure
  • Interest-Free Loan Scheme (for Home Office application fees and related legal costs)

These support options are subject to eligibility criteria and only accessible once you have started your employment with the University.

9.3 Well-Being

The University recognises that this may be a challenging time for many in our community, particularly those from the EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and those currently on Tier 2 visas who may be uncertain about the changes. The HR department will continue to update the HR information pages to highlight relevant information, where to seek further guidance and support, along with the availability of wellbeing services.

Manager Guidance

External Guidance

Click Here to link to a page containing Gov.uk immigration guidance.

UK Points Based Immigration System:

Click here to link to a page containing UK points-based immigration system information.

 

Disclaimer

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided here but this does not constitute legal advice and is subject to change. The University accepts no liability for content provided via third party websites.