Leave to remain (visa) application process

Once a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship is issued to a migrant, they must apply for leave to remain (visa) within three months of the date that their Certificate of Sponsorship is issued, or before their existing visa expires, whichever is sooner. This applies to all in-country 'initial' and 'extension' Tier 2 applicants. After three months the certificate will lapse and can no longer be used to support a visa application.

Please note that those applying under this category will be subject to a "genuineness test".

Leave to remain (visa) application process

It is the responsibility of the migrant to complete the leave to remain application form, although the Staff Immigration Team can offer guidance on this. It is essential to ensure that the migrant has signed the declaration page.

The Staff Immigration Team will, where possible, check Tier 2 leave to remain visa applications from in-country applicants (and from their dependants, where applicable) and submit these to the Home Office on behalf of the migrant.

Please note that the Staff Immigration Team cannot guarantee the successful outcome of any leave to remain application since this decision is made by the Home Office and not by the University.

Where possible, departments and colleges are advised to submit leave to remain visa applications to the Staff Immigration Team no later than 8 weeks before the migrant's visa is due to expire (for 'extension' applicants), or no later than 8 weeks before they are due to commence their new post (for 'initial' applicants), to allow sufficient time for the application to be checked, issues resolved, and submitted to the Home Office.

The Staff Immigration Team cannot guarantee to be able to check any leave to remain applications received later than three working days before the migrant's visa is due to expire. In such circumstances, the Staff Immigration Team will, where possible, submit the application to the Home Office as it is received.

Departments and colleges should note that migrants applying from within the UK under the following circumstances are not permitted to start their new post with the University until their leave to remain (visa) has been granted for the new post:

  • currently on a Tier 2 or old-style work visa sponsored by another organisation
  • currently on a Tier 2 or old-style work visa sponsored by the University, but who will be changing jobs within the University to a different type of role (e.g. a researcher taking up a new post as a University Lecturer)

Note, however, that this rule does not apply to most student visa holders, who can be employed full-time for up to four months after completion of their studies, pending course results (providing their student visa is still valid). If a student submits a Tier 2 leave to remain application within this four month period, they may continue to work until a decision is reached on their work visa application.

A Tier 4 student visa holder awaiting the outcome of an application to switch into Tier 2 (General) which was submitted before their Tier 4 visa expired can fill a full-time permanent vacancy as long as they have successfully completed a course at degree level or above and they are employed in the role for which they are applying under Tier 2, otherwise a temporary contract of employment should be issued to the student worker until their work visa has been granted.

Please refer to the employing overseas students webpage for further information.

Migrants are strongly advised not to make any travel plans until they have received their passport and visa back from the Home Office. Once a postal application is made, the Staff Immigration Team cannot request a progress update from the Home Office unless the application has been outstanding for more than six months (although applications rarely take longer than 8 weeks).

On average, we find that postal applications take 6-8 weeks to be processed by the Home Office, but the date of return of a migrant's documents cannot be guaranteed.

If the migrant has a spouse or children who also need to extend their leave to remain, their details will need to be completed on the main migrant's application form, but each dependant will also need to complete a separate application form.

Dependants will be required to sign their own application forms, except children, in which case the parent can sign. Dependant applications can be submitted along with the main migrant's application.

Migrants will be required to show that they have extra maintenance funds available for each dependant, unless evidence has already been submitted in a previous Tier 2 application.

Please see the Tier 2 leave to remain (visa) application guidance (in-country) (291kb) for details of the supporting documents that will be needed for Tier 2 leave to remain (visa) applications for both 'initial' applicants and 'extension' applicants applying from within the UK. The relevant guidance document will be sent to the migrant by the Staff Immigration Team by email together with their Certificate of Sponsorship number.

New 5 year Tier 2 leave to remain (visa) - The Home Office have introduced a new Tier 2 leave to remain (visa) which can be granted for a duration of up to 5 years instead of the current 3 year maximum. A higher fee is payable for a Tier 2 visa application for over 3 (up to 5) years. Please note that for those initially granted a Tier 2 visa since April 2011 the maximum duration for which they can hold a Tier 2 visa is 6 years. While the normal Tier 2 requirements apply where an application is being made for longer than 3 years the applicant is considered to be an 'Experienced Worker' and the higher salary threshold applies, regardless of whether they would otherwise meet the criteria to be considered as a 'New Entrant'.

Priority Postal Service applications

The Home Office's Priority Postal Service considers in-country Tier 2 applications in a much shorter timeframe than the standard postal route. This service aims to provide a decision within ten working days of their receipt of an application although applying using this service does cost more.

The fee for an application made using the Priority Postal Service is the relevant standard fee plus £300 per person.

Only a limited number of Tier 2 Priority Postal applications (currently 30) are accepted by the Home Office each day (excluding weekends & bank holidays) and a request for an application slot must be made through the Staff Immigration Team and approved by the Home Office before a priority application can be made.

In order to use this service migrants must:

  • make a request to the Home Office through the Staff Immigration Team for an application slot by completing and emailing a Tier 2 Priority Postal Service Request for inclusion form to the Staff Immigration Team;
  • submit their completed Tier 2 Priority application form(s) and supporting documents to the Home Office by post using Royal Mail Special or Recorded Delivery within 24 hours of confirmation of an application slot from the Staff Immigration Team which will provide a reference number issued by the Home Office which must be used when applying;
  • submit their Biometric information through the Post Office within 2 days of receiving their letter from the Home Office inviting them to enrol their biometric information.

Please consult the Home Office's Tier 2 Priority Service webpage where the Tier 2 Priority application forms and guidance (for main applicants and dependants) can be found. In order to use the Tier 2 Priority service these forms must be used rather than the standard Tier 2 application forms.

More information in relation to the Biometric enrolment process can be found below, however, please note that for a priority application Biometric information must be submitted within 2 days of receiving the invite letter rather than the usual 15 days.

Please note that due to the 24 hour deadline within which Tier 2 Priority Postal applications must be submitted migrants apply at their own risk as the Staff Immigration Team is not able to check or submit these applications on their behalf.

Applying in person

Migrants may make an application for a Tier 2 Leave to Remain visa in person at one of the Home Office's Visa Premium Service Centres although this does cost considerably more. The fee for an application made in person is the relevant standard fee plus £400 per person (this includes a £100 appointment fee paid at the time of booking which may be retained if the applicant fails to attend their appointment without good reason, the appointment is cancelled without good reason and not rebooked, or the application is withdrawn before the appointment).

Please note that from 15 November 2013 where the migrant has booked the appointment themselves the fee in respect of all applications to be submitted on the day must be paid in full online prior to the appointment, however, this does not apply if the Staff Immigration Team have secured the appointment as in this case the fees can still be paid in full on the day.

Where a migrant is paying the application fee(s) on the day of the appointment payment can only be made via Credit or Debit card. If payment is being made on the day using a credit or debit card that is not in the migrant's own name the person named on the card must be present to authorise the transaction, and the card must be 'chip and pin' enabled. We would recommend that migrants contact their bank before attending the appointment in person to make them aware that a large payment will be taken in order to avoid the payment being queried or refused.

The nearest Premium Service Centres to Oxford are in Croydon and Solihull, Birmingham.

Information on how to book an appointment at these centres online can be found on the Home Office website.

When applying in person, the applicant should receive a decision on their application the same day. However, their Biometric Residence Permit (equivalent to a visa) will not be available immediately, and will be sent to the applicant within ten working days of the date of their appointment.

Biometric enrolment process

Migrant workers (and their dependants) applying for Tier 2 leave to remain (visa) from within the UK will need to have their biometrics (fingerprints and photographs) taken before a decision is made on their application. Migrants will be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit, rather than a work visa or vignette in their passport.

Once the Home Office receives a Tier 2 leave to remain application, the migrant (and any accompanying dependants) will be identified as needing to provide their biometric details, and will be sent a letter inviting them to do so within 15 working days of receiving the letter. Migrants can find more information about enrolling their biometric information on the Home Office's website.

Migrants who have submitted their visa application by post or online may enrol their biometric information at one of the Post Office branches offering this service across the UK, information about this process can be found in the Home Office's Biometric Residence Permits guidance. Please note that the Post Office charges a fee for each person enrolling their biometric information. There is no need to book an appointment at the Post Office as it is a walk-in service but you can only use the service after you have received a letter inviting you to do so. The Post Office is open from 09:00 - 17:30 Monday to Saturday.

Migrants who have made an appointment to submit their application in person will enrol their biometric information at the time of their appointment.

When enrolling their Biometric information migrants must ensure that they take the following information with them:

  • the complete original letter from the Home Office inviting the migrant to submit their biometric information (including the back page which contains a barcode and the applicant's case reference number, full name and date of birth) , the Post Office will not be able to proceed with their enrolment if the complete letter is not presented;
  • sufficient payment for the service (when enrolling your biometric information through the Post Office fees can be paid by cash or debit card only).

Any applicant under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. If the responsible adult is the parent, they must take either the letter they received from the Home Office inviting them to use the biometric enrolment service, or photo identification such as a UK photocard driving licence, passport or national identity card. If the responsible adult is the child's legal guardian or someone else who is not a parent, they must take one of the forms of photo identification listed above, as well as a letter confirming that they are a responsible adult who has a close connection to the child and who has been authorised to accompany him or her to the biometric enrolment centre.