Inviting Visitors to the University
Understand what you need to do before inviting a visitor to the University and what types of activity they can do.
Visitors will need confirmation from the relevant Department/Faculty that they approve the visit (for some Faculties, this goes through the Board of Studies) .
With effect from 1 January 2021, any non-settled worker must hold an appropriate visa / UK entry clearance that enables them to fulfil the specific purpose of their visit.
If you would like to invite a PhD student to visit, please contact your relevant graduate school who can advise you further. For all other types of visitor, please see below for further guidance.
What you need to do to invite a visitor
If you are proposing to host a visitor and have been granted the appropriate permissions from within the relevant Department/Faculty:
- Use the GOV.UK online tool to determine whether your proposed visitor requires a visa.
If the individual does require a visa or if you are unsure, email HR Visas with the details of the visit and visitor, including:
- nationality of visitor
- postal address
- purpose of the visit
- dates and duration of the visit
If the visitor requires a visa, they will need to apply for and obtain entry clearance before they arrive in the UK.
The types of activity your visitor can do whilst they're here
A visitor can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months (£95 fee) and whilst they are here, they can do the following activities:
General Business Activities
- attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews; and
- give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser; and
- negotiate and sign deals and contracts; and
- attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling; and
- carry out site visits and inspections; and
- gather information for their employment overseas; and
- be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK
Subject to a visiting academic meeting the eligibility requirements, they may be able to stay in the UK for up to 12 months (£190 fee) along with their spouse/partner and their children (if applicable). They must:
- be highly qualified within their own field of expertise; and
- have been working in that field at an academic institution or institution of higher education overseas prior to their arrival in the UK.
They can carry out the following activities, in addition to the above:
- take part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts (including doctors);
- carry out research for their own purposes if they are on sabbatical leave from their home institution;
- if they are an eminent senior doctor or dentist, take part in research, teaching or clinical practice provided this does not amount to filling a permanent teaching post.
Scientists and researchers may:
- gather information and facts for a specific project which directly relates to their employment overseas;
- share knowledge or advise on an international project that is being led from the UK, provided the visitor is not carrying our research in the UK.
Permitted Paid Engagement
A Permitted Paid Engagement Visa is for experts in their field coming to the UK to undertake a specific paid engagement for up to one month.
The following are Permitted Paid Engagements:
- an academic who is highly qualified within their field of expertise, coming to examine students and/or participate in or chair selection panels, and have been invited by a UK higher education institution, or a UK-based research or arts organisation as part of that institution or organisation’s quality assurance processes; and
- an expert coming to give lectures in their subject area, where they have been invited by a higher education institution; or a UK-based research or arts organisation, and this does not amount to filling a teaching position for the host organisation.
Permitted activities must not amount to the visitor undertaking employment, or work which amounts to them filling a role or providing short-term cover for a role within a UK based organisation and where the visitor is already paid and employed outside of the UK they must remain so.
These sub-types are now within the over-arching Standard Visitor Visa. The UKVI website has useful information and guidance on the visitor routes and associated rules, a summary of which can be found below:
Those applying for a Visitor Visa under the Standard Visitor visa route for up to 6 months must submit the following documents in support of their visa application:
- current passport
- 1 passport-sized colour photograph (only required when applying before travelling to UK)
- proof that they can support themselves during their trip
- details of where they intend to stay and their travel plans
- an invitation letter from the host Department/Faculty within the University
Guidance on supporting document requirements for Visitor Visas can be found in the Home Office Guide
Letters of Invitation
Visitors to the University who are coming as an Academic or Business visitor or as a Permitted Paid Engagement visitor will always require a letter of invitation from the host Department/Faculty to present with their visa application (for visa nationals) or to Immigration Officers at their UK port of entry (for non-visa nationals). Letters of invitation are not required for dependants who are accompanying Visitors, nor do they need to be listed in the Visitor’s letter of invitation.
We have prepared a template letter that can be copied onto Department/Faculty headed paper and amended accordingly.
Please note that a letter of invitation will not guarantee a successful visa application/successful entry to the UK. This decision is made solely by immigration officers overseas and/or at the UK port of entry.
Visitors are not permitted to receive pay from a UK source (except Permitted Paid Engagement Visitors who must be paid). However, payment of reasonable expenses to cover the cost of travel and subsistence is permitted. The Home Office do not define ‘reasonable’ so please ensure any payments can be justified. If unsure on this point contact the HR Visa team to discuss prior to the invitation letter being issued.
Further guidance is available from the UKVI website.