UK VISAs and Immigration – Information for Current and Prospective Staff

1. Information for Current/Prospective Colleagues (EU/EEA and Swiss Nationals resident/ working in the UK by the 31st December 2020)

The revised UK Points Based Immigration System is currently in the ‘grace period’ up until 30th June 2021, during which time EU/EEA and Swiss Nationals can continue to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

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 concerned 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.

1.1 The Settlement Scheme for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals’ resident in the UK by the 31st December 2020?

Colleagues who are EU, EEA and Swiss nationals resident in the UK by the 31st December 2020 can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled or pre-settled status to continue to live, work and study in the UK after 30th June 2021.

Individuals (and their family) will still need to apply for settled or pre-settled status.  Once five qualifying years has been reached, individuals may then wish to apply to update their visa to settled status.

For individuals who have not been resident in the UK for five years you can apply for pre-settled status. Once you reach five qualifying years, you can then apply to update your visa to settled status.

 

1.2 EU Settlement Scheme Applications

The EU Settlement Scheme is still open, and we encourage colleagues to apply as soon as possible. Individuals must have been resident in the UK by the 31st December 2020, with a closing date for applications to the settlement scheme being 30th June 2021.

The EU settlement scheme application process is free for all applicants.

 

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

A Frontier Worker permit allows EU/EEA/Swiss citizens to come to the UK to work while living elsewhere. Applications to the Frontier worker route close at the end of the ‘grace period’ on 30th June 2021.

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).

1.4. 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.

 

1.5 How will I prove my Right to Work?

 For current colleagues, the government have confirmed that there will be no requirement for retrospective right to work checks.

 For newly appointed EU/EEA and Swiss Nationals, individuals can continue to evidence their right to work in the UK by providing their passport (and/may also opt to provide their share code if they have a status under the EU Settlement Scheme) up until 30th June 2021. Noting however, that whilst the University are currently not required to check an individual’s existing right to work visa/ status under the EU settlement scheme, for employment start dates prior to 1st July 2021, candidates who do not have a right to work may be refused entry to the UK upon arrival and it is therefore important that you check your right to work status against the Governments Right to Work calculator prior to application. The University may be able to provide sponsorship for eligible roles.

 

1.6 Continuity of Residence: Advice if you are currently working outside of the UK

The Covid-19 pandemic, may have resulted in many European colleagues working remotely outside the UK, please be aware of the following:

1.6.1     Settled status

If you have already been granted Settled status, you can remain outside the UK for up to 5 years without affecting your status. Returning to the UK, even for one day, during a five year period of absence will mean that you won’t lose your settled status and it will reset the clock for another 5 years.

  • Pre-Settled status

If you hold Pre-Settled status, you can remain outside the UK for up to 2 years without your Pre-Settled status being cancelled however, if your absence outside the UK is more than 6 months in any 12 month period (or 12 months for an ‘important reason’, such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training or an overseas work posting) it will break your continuity of residence. While you could remain in the UK for the five years, a long absence might mean that you do not qualify for Settled status at the end of that time. You might then have to apply for a UK work visa (at significant expense) instead. If you have had a significant absence it may be worthwhile considering applying for Pre-Settled again when you return to the UK before the 30 June 2021 deadline to apply.

1.6.3 If you have not yet applied for Pre-settled Status

If you were previously living in the UK but have not yet obtained Pre-Settled status and:

  • returned before 1 January 2021 following an absence from the UK, you should apply for Pre-Settled status as soon as possible, and before the 30 June 2021 deadline, at the latest.
  • returned after 1 January 2021 following an absence from the UK, you will only continue to have a ‘right of residence’ and be able to apply for a Pre-Settled status when you return if your absences have not exceeded 6 months (or 12 months for an ‘important’ reason such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training or an overseas work posting).

It may be possible in some circumstances to submit a Pre-Settled application from outside the UK.

1.7 Absences due to Covid-19

Home Office guidance published in December 2020 states that periods outside the UK when you were ill with Covid-19, were self-isolating, or could not return to the UK due to travel restrictions, would be counted as an ‘important reason’ which would not break your continuous residence if you were outside the UK for up to 12 months. You would need to retain evidence of your illness, required period of self-isolation, or that travel to the UK was not possible to submit when applying for Settled status to explain that this longer absence was for an ‘important reason’.

If it was possible to return to the UK, but you chose not to, this would not count as an absence for an ‘important reason’ and would break you continuous residence if you were outside the UK for more than 6 months in any rolling 12 month period.

Please note: this is generic guidance and cannot cover every scenario, should you have a query related to your status in the UK now or after the end of the transition period (31 December 2020), or your eligibility for Pre-settled or Settled status, please obtain legal advice, to ensure the duration of absences outside UK will not affect your continued rights to live and work in the UK without having to obtain a UK work visa.

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

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 concerned 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.

2.1. I have an existing Tier 2 visa; how will the new 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.

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. Recruitment and Prospective Applicants –EU/EEA and Swiss Nationals (arriving in the UK after 1st January 2021) and Non-EEA nationals (arriving in the UK after 1st December 2020)

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 new 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.

The following individuals do not need a visa for the UK, but do still have to prove their right to work before employment can commence:

3.1 How will Brexit Impact my Immigration Status and Right to Work?

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

 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 new PBS.

3.2 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

5.1 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 is not a sponsored route and can only be undertaken by the applicant.

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.

5.1.1 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.

5.1.2 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.

5.2 Alternative Investor, business development and talent visas

5. Investor, business development and talent visas

5.1 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 is not a sponsored route and can only be undertaken by the applicant.

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.

5.1.1 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.

5.1.2 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.

7. Support Available for Advice and Immigration Expenses

7.1 Immigration Advice

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

the University’s Care First programme, the free helpline enables you to speak to a professional counsellor or information specialist in confidence and is accessed by calling 0808 168 2143, or alternatively the government provide an independent immigration advice service, as regulated by the Immigration Services Commissioner OISC.

7.2 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.

Manager Guidance

External Guidance

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

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.