Academic Visitor (up to 12 month visa)

Academic Visitors are a sub-group of the Standard Visitor category. To qualify as an Academic Visitor, the applicant must be able to produce evidence that they are highly qualified in their own field of expertise and are currently working in that field at an academic or higher education institution overseas.

Recent graduates, people on sabbatical leave from private research companies, named researchers on grants, those being paid to give a/ series of lecture(s) and sponsored researchers do not qualify as Academic Visitors and should find an alternative immigration route.

Who can come to the University as an Academic Visitor?

Only those employed by academic or higher education institutions overseas in teaching or research roles are eligible to apply to come to the UK under the Academic Visitor sub-category of the Standard Visitor visa route. Research staff should therefore be eligible under this route but research students would not.

Visitors would fall under the Academic Visitor sub-category of the Standard Visitor visa route if they are:

  • on leave from their overseas academic institution coming to the University to carry out their own private research (e.g. research for a book, for example);
  • taking part in arranged exchanges e.g. where the University is collaborating with an overseas university on research and exchanges personnel for some or all of the duration of the project. Any salary should continue to be paid by the academic's own overseas institution;
  • coming to share knowledge or experience or to hold informal discussions with UK counterparts (but not conducting research on University hosted projects);
  • taking part in a conference or seminar that is not a commercial or non-profit venture;
  • eminent senior doctors or dentists, (i.e. those considered to be top of their field of expertise) coming to take part in research, teaching or clinical practice.

Please note that Academics coming to the University to collaborate with University staff on University-hosted research projects are likely to be classed as sponsored researchers, could not apply as an Academic Visitor, and would require need to apply for a Tier 5 visa instead.

Please also note that applicants under the Academic Visitor route must be employed by an academic institution outside the UK. Applicants who are retired are not eligible under either the Academic or Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) route.

How long can an Academic Visitor and their dependants spend in the UK?

While a Standard Visitor visa is issued for a maximum of 6 months an Academic Visitor can apply for a visa for up to 12 months.

Dependant spouse/partners and children of Academic Visitors can obtain Standard Visitor visas to accompany them in the UK for up to 6 or 12 months in line with the Academic Visitor’s visa.

Where dependent children of Academic Visitors are coming to the UK for 12 months the restriction that they must not intend to study at a state-funded school does not apply.

What can an Academic Visitor (up to 12 month visa) do while in the UK?

An Academic Visitor can undertake other activities under their Standard Visitor visa in addition to the activities which form the main purpose of their visit. See Visitors - Permitted Activities & Restrictions.

What is the Academic Visitor visa application process?

The process of obtaining permission to enter the UK as an Academic Visitor under the Standard Visitor visa route for up to 6 months is the same as that for other Visitor visa routes and depends on whether the applicant is classed as a ‘visa national’ or ‘non-visa national’.

If coming to the UK as an Academic Visitor for more than 6 (up to 12) months both ‘visa-nationals’ and ‘non-visa nationals’ must apply for a visa in advance of travelling to the UK as ‘visa nationals’ are always required to. See What is the Visitor visa application process?

What Supporting documentation is required?

Those applying for an Academic Visitor (up to 12 month) visa must submit the following documents in support of their visa application before travelling to the UK:

  • current passport or other valid travel identification
  • 1 passport-sized colour photograph
  • proof that they can support themselves during their trip
  • details of where they intend to stay and their travel plans
  • an invitation letter from the host department/ college within the university
  • proof that they are highly qualified in their own field of expertise and currently working in that field at an academic or higher education institution overseas, for example a letter from their employer
  • medical certificate issued by a Home Office approved medical practitioner confirming that they have undergone screening for, and have been diagnosed as being free from active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) - if applying from specified countries. [in page link to Tuberculosis (TB) pre-screening below]

Guidance on requirements for supporting documents when applying for a Visitor visa can found in the Home Office Guide.

Tuberculosis (TB) pre-screening for Visitors coming to the UK for more than 6 months

There is a growing number of countries considered by the Home Office to have a high incidence of tuberculosis. Those who are resident in these countries must provide a valid medical certificate issued by a Home Office approved medical practitioner confirming that they have undergone screening for, and have been diagnosed as being free from, active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) if they are applying to come to the UK for more than six months.

Please refer to the Home Office website for country-specific information to determine whether TB pre-screening is required, and for full details in relation to the process and testing for dependants (including children).

It is important that applicants from countries where TB pre-screening is required are tested as soon as possible in advance of their application and travel to the UK as if additional tests and/or treatment is required this will significantly delay their visit to the UK.

When issued with a medical certificate confirming that the applicant is free from TB this certificate must be submitted with their application if applying for a Visitor visa in advance of travel to the UK, or presented along with their invitation letter if applying for ‘leave to enter’ at their UK port of entry. The Home Office also recommends that the certificate is carried in hand luggage so that it is available for inspection on arrival in the UK.