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Applying for a Skilled Worker visa

Guidance relating to the application process for a Skilled Worker visa.

Overview of the application process

When it's confirmed you have met the sponsorship requirements and you have accepted a formal offer of employment from us, we will start the onboarding process.

As part of this process, you’ll need to complete an ‘Applicant Details Form - CoS Checklist’. This will enable us to carry out the necessary checks before assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to you. The CoS is our guarantee that the role is genuine and meets the necessary skill and salary requirements needed for sponsorship.

You will be asked to confirm the following information:

  • that your personal details are correct as stated on your job application form
  • details of your current UK visa (if applicable)
  • how you will meet the English language requirements

You will also be asked to upload the necessary documentation to your applicant account on our Jobs website to support your visa application. This may include a copy of your passport or visa, a copy of your PhD qualification, your UK ENIC (formerly known as UK NARIC) reference number or English Language test reference number.

One of our HR Recruitment Co-ordinators will check your documents and will get in contact if we need any further information from you, or if there are any issues with the details you have provided. Once they have carried out the checks and are satisfied the requirements for sponsorship have been met, they will start the process of assigning a CoS.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requirements

If you need a Skilled Worker visa and are intending to research at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects, you will require an ATAS certificate before you can apply for your visa. Please visit our ATAS webpages for further information.

The Staff Immigration Team will let you know if you need to apply for an ATAS Certificate and provide you with the details that you need to make an application. This includes your SOC code, academic subject (CAH3) code and the research statement from your line manager.

The Staff Immigration Team will not issue you with a CoS until they have received formal confirmation from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) that your ATAS application has been approved.

Assigning a CoS

When your CoS is ready to be assigned, you’ll receive an email from HR notifying you that you need to log into your applicant account. Once you have logged into your account, you’ll need to check that the details in the CoS are correct. You will then need to use this CoS to make your visa application.

It’s important to keep your HR Recruitment Co-ordinator updated on the progress of your visa application. You should let them know immediately if you encounter any problems, as we are obliged to report any changes to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) within strict timeframes.

Duration of a CoS

The duration of your employment contract will determine the duration of your CoS. For example, if you have a permanent contract, you will be issued with a five-year CoS (the maximum visa length before you need to extend it).

You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like (subject to your contractual position) as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.

After five years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK. This is known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). ILR gives you the right to live, work and study in the UK for as long as you like and to apply for benefits if you are eligible.

If you are successful in gaining settlement, you will no longer be subject to visa restrictions in the UK and you will have the unlimited and unrestricted right to work.

How to apply for a visa

How you apply depends on whether you are:

If you want to change your job or employer, you must apply to update your visa.

As part of your visa application, you will need to provide the relevant documents, dependent on your individual circumstances.

The visa application can be made in the country where you are currently residing and does not have to be your country of origin.

You can apply for a visa up to three months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your CoS.


If you are applying from outside the UK as the main applicant, you will need to apply for your visa before your partner and children can apply for theirs. They will need your Global Web Form (GWF) or Unique Application Number (UAN) when they apply. You'll be able to find this information on emails and letters from the Home Office about your visa application.

If you are applying from inside the UK, you can apply for your partner or child’s visa at the same time as you apply to extend or switch your own visa. This includes children who were born or have turned 18 during your stay.

If you can't apply at the same time, your partner or child can apply to extend or switch their visas at a later date. This must be before their current visa expires.

How long it takes

Once you have applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you will usually get a decision on your visa application within:

  • three weeks, if you’re outside the UK
  • eight weeks, if you're inside the UK

If you need to attend an appointment, you may be able to pay for a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you are outside the UK or inside the UK.

Visa costs

In addition to the cost of the visa application, you will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee. The exact amount you'll have to pay will depend on how much leave you are granted. Full details on the costs of a visa application and the IHS can be found on the government website.

If applying online, the IHS will need to be paid at the same time as your visa application. This will ensure you have full access to the National Health Service (NHS).

The IHS will cost an additional £1,035 per person per year that your visa is valid. Children aged under 18 pay a reduced fee of £776.

Support with immigration expenses

We provide the following support for staff to help with the cost of immigration expenses:

These support options are subject to eligibility criteria and are only accessible once you have started your employment with us.

Please note: we won't be able to support you in switching visas if you have pre-existing immigration permission in the UK which can be transferred to your new role.

After you apply

You'll receive a letter or an email from the Home Office with the result of your visa application and this will explain what you need to do next.

If your application is successful, you will be given either:

  • an entry clearance sticker (called a travel vignette) that goes in your passport, if you gave your biometric information at a visa application centre
  • access to view your immigration status information online, if you used the smartphone app to prove your identity

The travel vignette or online immigration status information will show:

  • what you have been granted (for example, a Skilled Worker visa)
  • the dates your visa is valid (start date and end date)
  • the conditions of your visa

You must enter the UK before your travel vignette expires otherwise you will need to apply and pay for another one. In making your travel plans, you should aim to arrive in the UK prior to your start date at the University.

If you get a travel vignette and you are coming to the UK for more than six months, you'll need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) when you arrive. This can be done either before your travel vignette expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later. You can choose where to collect your BRP from during your application. Typically, for most new starters at the University, this will be the central Post Office in Bath.

Right to work check

You'll need to provide your BRP to your HR Recruitment Co-ordinator as soon as you receive it, so that they can carry out a Home Office online right to work check with you before you start work.

If there is an exceptional reason why you have not been able to collect your BRP before your first day, we will allow you to start work on the basis of your travel vignette as long as it is still valid. You must then obtain your BRP from your designated collection point as soon as possible and provide this to your HR Recruitment Co-ordinator.

Application refusals or problems with your BRP

If your visa application is refused, you will receive a letter or email explaining why.

You must let your HR Recruitment Co-ordinator know immediately if your application is refused as we will need to notify UKVI as part of our reporting obligations.

Your passport will be returned if it was kept as part of your application. Your refusal letter will explain if you have the right to either an Administrative Review or an Immigration Decision Appeal.

Similarly, if there is a problem with your BRP, it is lost or stolen, or you need to replace it, you should read this guidance and contact UKVI immediately.


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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