Leave to remain (visa) application process (for in-country applicants)

PLEASE NOTE: Travel is not possible while an application is being processed

While applicants will retain their documents, or have them returned by the Home Office, a recent change in the Immigration Rules has clarified that travel outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) is not possible, as it would automatically result in the application being withdrawn.

The Staff Immigration Team email a Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the applicant and Personnel contact. This email includes the Tier 5 leave to remain (visa) application guidance (in-country) (378kb)

Upon receipt of the email the applicant must submit an application for leave to remain (visa) from within the UK. This application process, for themselves and each dependant (if applicable), is undertaken in three stages. Firstly an online application, secondly the submission of supporting documents, and finally the enrolment of biometric details.

Once the application is approved by the Home Office, the applicant and each dependant is issued with a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), which is a credit card sized plastic visa card. Further information on the BRP can be found on the Home Office website.

Timing an application

An applicant must apply to the Home Office for leave to remain (visa):

  • Before their existing visa expires: By submitting a valid application before their visa expires, their current immigration status is extended until a decision is made on the application. If their visa expires whilst their application is pending, this prevents them from becoming an overstayer. AND
  • Within three months of the date that their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) was issued: After this period the CoS will automatically expire and can no longer be used to support a visa application.

Travel Plans

Applicants must not travel outside of the UK until they have recieved a decision on their application. If they travel outside the ‘Common Travel Area’ (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) before a decision is made on the application, the application will be treated as withdrawn.

Applicants should therefore allow around 10 weeks from submitting the online application to receiving their new Biometric Residence Permit, during which time they must not travel outside of the UK.

Applicants who have urgent travel plans will need to consider the super priority service available. For further details refer to the Super Priority Service section below.


Applicants and each of their dependents will incur a visa application fee, NHS surcharge, biometric enrolment fee and any additional fees for a super priority service. A full table of costs can be found here on cost and payment of application page.

Application process

Step 1: Online application

The applicant will need to complete the online leave to remain application for both themselves and any dependants. For extension applications, guidance and a link to the online application can be found on the Home Office Tier 5 'Extend your visa'

For switching applications (for example student (Tier 4) visa holder) the online application can be found on the Home Office Tier 5 'Switch to this visa'

The applicant first provides an email address and password. A unique hyperlink is then emailed to the address provided. This hyperlink enables the applicant to draft the application and return to it later.

The system is intuitive and only asks for the required information applicable to the application being made. 

The Staff Immigration Team is happy to provide guidance on the completion of the application and encourages applicants to email a downloaded .pdf of the drafted application to be checked before submission. An application cannot be amended once the ‘declaration’ section has been completed so a draft .pdf should be downloaded once the applicant reaches the ‘document’ section.

When the visa application fees, biometric enrolment and NHS surcharge have been paid, two .pdf documents are generated; a summary of the application and a supporting evidence checklist.

These two .pdf’s should be sent to the Staff Immigration Team for future reference, and to help the team provide assistance if any issue with the application arises after submission.

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.

Step 2: Supporting documents

The online application will direct applicants to upload scanned copies of the supporting evidence and to book an appointment to register their biometric details via the Home Office’s commercial partners (Sopra Steria) website.

The supporting evidence checklist provides the list of documents applicants will need to scan and upload. These documents can be uploaded under the ‘Document upload’ section prior to their biometric enrolment appointment.  Alternatively the original documents can be taken to the appointment to be uploaded and scanned. Those applying at a Core Centre as detailed at Step 3 will be charged additional costs for utilising the scanning service. 

If any applicant requires assistance with scanning and uploading documents ahead of their appointment or has any uncertainty around which documents need to be submitted, they should seek support from the Staff Immigration Team.

Step 3: Biometric enrolment

Applicants will need to book and attend an appointment with the Home Office’s commercial partner Sopra Steria to have their biometrics (fingerprints and photographs) taken before a decision is made on their application.

There are UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS) Centres aroun the UK:

  • 7 core services which offer free appointments (Belfast, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield and Solihill)
  • Approx. 50 Enhanced service centres, which charge an additional £60 per applicant. This fee includes biometric enrolment and scanning of documents
  • 1 premium lounge (London)

Applicants and their dependants will all need to attend an appointment, and children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by the responsible adult named in the childs application.

Applicants will be told what they need to take to the appointment when making the booking, this will include:

  • Appointment confirmation
  • Passport or travel document
  • Supporting evidence (even if scanned and uploaded in advance, it is advisable to take these documents to the appointment in case they need to be reviewed or re-scanned)

Additional information can be found on the Sopra Steria website

Step 4: Decision

The Home Office will issue a decision letter via Royal Mail, and the new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is delivered by courier within 10 working days after the decision.

Guidance in relation to BRPs for in-country applicants can be found on the Home Office website.

Super Priority Service

Applicants may make an application for their Tier 5 leave to remain application using a super priority service. The fee for this service is paid via the online application system in addition to the visa application fee and costs an additional £800 per applicant.

A decision should be made within 1 working day following the biometric appointment at the UKVCAS. The Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) will not be available immediately, this will be couriered to the applicant within ten working days of the approval decision.

Dependants (Family Members)

If the main applicant has a spouse or children who are applying along with them, their details can be included in the online application to form a family group application which will mean that separate applications for each dependant will not need to be submitted. The online application will ask whether any dependants are applying and the details are added by specifying whether they are a 'dependant partner or spouse' or a 'dependant child'.

When applying as a family group the combined visa fees for all those applying must be paid as one amount, as do the combined NHS Surcharges.

Where dependants are applying from within the UK separately from the main applicant each dependant will need to submit their own separate online 'dependant partner' or 'dependant child' application as appropriate. Guidance and the links to separate online dependant applications can be found in Home Office Tier 5 guidance for Family members

Applicants 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 5 application.