Visa application process

Limit on delayed start dates
A recent change to the Tier 2 guidance states that if a sponsored Tier 2 visa holder's start date is delayed by more than 4 weeks sponsorship would have to be withdrawn. The start date listed on a Tier 2 CoS can be amended before the visa application is submitted by the individual. After this point the 4 week limit on any delayed start would apply. If you have any cases where a start date may be delayed speak to SIT as early as possible.

Once a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship has been issued to an applicant, they must obtain a Tier 2 visa/ entry clearance before they enter the UK, and have three months from the date the Certificate of Sponsorship is issued to do so. After three months the certificate will lapse and can no longer be used to support a visa application.

Applicants should also note that they must not apply for a visa any sooner than three months before the start date given on their Certificate of Sponsorship. In addition, applicants will not be permitted to enter the UK any sooner than 14 days before the start date on their Certificate of Sponsorship.

Tier 2 visa applications must be submitted online by the applicant, in all countries except North Korea, with supporting documents submitted through their local Visa Application Centre. Home Office Tier 2 visa guidance provides a link to the online application website. Applicants are advised to carefully check the application requirements in their country of residence before applying. The length of time taken to process visa applications can vary considerably from country to country.

Please refer to the Home Office website for details of Visa Application Centres in a particular country. Overseas applicants will also need to provide their biometric details (fingerprints and photographs) when applying for a visa to enter the UK. 

With effect from 6 April 2015 those applying for a Tier 2 visa to come to the UK for more than six months, and their depedants, will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (NHS Surcharge) in addition to the relevant visa application fees when submitting their visa applications. The NHS Surcharge is based on the duration of the visa applied for and is charged as a seperate payment when submitting a visa application. If the NHS Surcharge is not paid the visa application will be refused.

Please see the Tier 2 visa application guidance (overseas) (311kb) for details of the supporting documents that will be needed for this application. This guidance will be sent to the applicant by email with their Certificate of Sponsorship number.

It is the applicants' responsibility to ensure that they provide the correct documentation when making their visa application to the overseas Visa Application Centre.

Should the applicant submit their visa application late, or fail to supply the correct documentation, their application will be refused and their Certificate of Sponsorship will be rendered invalid. In this eventuality, the University will need to request another Certificate of Sponsorship from the Home Office's next available monthly limit. Should the Home Office approve the request, the Staff Immigration Team will issue a new Certificate of Sponsorship to the applicant, and they will then need to submit a fresh visa application.

5 year Tier 2 leave to remain (visa) - a Tier 2 leave to remain (visa) can be granted for a duration of up to 5 years instead of the standard 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'.

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

Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) (credit-card sized plastic visa cards) are now issued to those applying overseas for permission to stay in the UK for more than six months. The applicant will be issued with a 30 day vignette (visa in their passport) to enable them to enter the UK but they must then collect their BRP within 10 days from a designated Post Office.

A letter issued to the applicant along with their 30 day vignette details the designated Post Office and the date from which the BRP will be available for collection, based on the UK address and intended travel date listed in the visa application. The passport containing the vignette and the letter must be presented when collecting the BRP. If the applicant does not collect their BRP within 10 days they could face a financial penalty and have may have their visa curtailed. Guidance in relation to BRPs for overseas applicants, and the schedule for the international roll-out, can be found on the Home Office website.

Tuberculosis (TB) pre-screening

There are 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 which has been issued by a Home Office approved medical practitioner confirming that they have undergone screening for active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) and that they have been diagnosed as being free from active pulmonary tuberculosis if they are applying to come to the UK for more than six months.

Please refer to the Home Office website for the list of countries affected, country-specific guidance in relation to the process and testing for dependants (including children), and the lists of approved testing clinics in each country.

There have been cases where applicants have undergone TB tests at clinics not on the Home Office approved list. Having to book and undergo another TB test has led to significant delays to start dates. In order to avoid such delays please draw applicants’ attention to the requirement that TB tests must be undertaken at an approved centre or the visa application will be rejected.

Please note that while the results of the standard test should be made available quite quickly, if the test results are inconclusive additional tests will be required for which the results could take several months to process. Where TB is detected a medical certificate will not be issued until after treatment has been received (which can take up to 6 months), the applicant can show that they have had treatment, and that they then are free from TB. It is important that applicants from countries where TB pre-screening is required are tested as soon as possible in advance of their application as additional tests and/or treatment will significantly delay their application to come 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 and the Home Office recommends that the certificate is carried in their hand luggage when they come to the UK in order that they are prepared to present this to the immigration officer on arrival.

Overseas Criminal Record certificates

A requirement to provide overseas criminal record certificates when applying for a Tier 2 visa to come to the UK has been introduced for a few jobs codes in the education, health and social care sectors. Of the job codes currently affected the only one which SIT has identified as relevant within the collegiate University is SOC code 2317, which is used (very infrequently) for senior administrative posts such as ‘Course Director’ or ‘Director of studies’.

PLEASE NOTE: the new requirement does not apply to the Researcher (SOC code 2119) and Lecturer (SOC code 2311) roles sponsored most frequently by the University, or any other job types SIT normally encounter, only senior administrative roles which fall under SOC code 2317.

Where the requirement does apply the applicant will have to provide either an original or a scanned copy of a criminal record certificate from the relevant authority in any country in which they have been resident for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total) in the past 10 years, while aged 18 or over. Any dependants who are over 18 years old must also meet this requirement. The Home Office provides contact details for the relevant authorities in different countries along with details of how to apply.

As this requirement will not affect the vast majority of Tier 2 applicants sponsored by the University please contact SIT as early as possible if you are advertising a role which you think may be affected. SIT will confirm if the requirement does apply and provide further information and links to the information provided by the Home Office. If the chosen candidate requires a Tier 2 visa you will then need to inform them of this requirement as early as possible so that they have time to obtain these documents before they submit their visa application.