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Recruitment timings and visa application process

Understand the timings of the visa application process so you can plan this into your recruitment process.

When advertising a vacancy, as a recruiting manager, you will need to set a realistic start date for a candidate to work in the UK. Typically, candidates who apply for academic or research roles are likely to need a Skilled Worker Visa so the broad timings below should be followed.

Please note that these timeframes are based on the worst case scenario and we will aim to shorten these timeframes where possible. Other non-sponsorable visas may allow for work in the UK such as the Global Talent Visa and have the benefit of faster processing times so these should also be considered where possible and where the candidate meets the eligibility criteria.


Process No. of days/weeks (approx.)
1. Advertise (the minimum advertising period should be 1 week to take into account the redeployment process, however, you don't need to advertise for a minimum of 28 days+ now for visa purposes unless you would like to) 2 weeks
2. Shortlist and send invites out the following week 1 week
3. Interview and choose successful candidate, offer and get in place all documents necessary for Staff Immigration Team (SIT) to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) if applicable 1 week
4. ATAS certificate - may be required. Candidate will need to apply for their certificate before a CoS can be assigned 10-20* days
5. Assign CoS - timing of this will depend on where the visa candidate is applying from 1 week
6. Candidate applies for their visa (timings of this will depend on the individual and how efficient they are and Visa Application Centres running normally) 1 week
7. Once the candidate has applied online, proved their identity and provided their documents (they may also need to sit an English language test so the timings of this should be factored in), they'll usually get a decision** on their visa within: 3 weeks, if they're outside the UK or 8 weeks, if they're inside the UK
8. Candidate will need their vignette/BRP before they can start work
TOTAL 10/11 to 17 weeks

*Update October 2021 - ATAS certificates are currently being issued in +20 working days and the delays are causing considerable difficulties and impacting on timeframes.

**If a candidate needs to attend a visa appointment, they may be able to pay for a faster decision.

Please note: although we can vary a start date (within strict timeframes which we need to report to UKVI) we can't vary the end date of a CoS once it's been used so you will need to check on the flexibility of your grant to see whether you can vary the dates prior to the SIT assigning a CoS to a candidate. This will also help to prevent short-term extensions at the end of a grant which are costly to both the individual and University.