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Skilled Worker Visa - application process

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

Overview of the application process

After it has been confirmed that you have met the points required for sponsorship and you have accepted a formal offer of employment from the University, Human Resources (HR) will initiate the onboarding process via our e-recruitment system, Stonefish.

As part of this process, you will be required to complete an ‘Applicant Details Form - CoS Checklist’ so that we can carry out the necessary checks prior to assigning a CoS to you. The CoS is the University’s undertaking 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 points criteria for sponsorship; and
  • how you will meet the English language requirements.

You will also be asked to upload the necessary documentation to your applicant account accessed via to support your visa application e.g. copy of passport/visa, copy of your PhD qualification, UK ENIC (formerly known as UK NARIC) reference number, English Language test reference number, etc.

After checking this documentation, if the relevant HR Recruitment Co-ordinator needs any further information from you, or they encounter any issues with the details you have provided, they will contact you directly.

When the relevant HR Recruitment Co-ordinator has carried out the necessary checks and they are satisfied that the requirements for sponsorship have been met, the process of assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) will be initiated.

ATAS requirement

You will require an ATAS certificate if you need to obtain a Skilled Worker Visa and are intending to research at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects e.g. academics and researchers. Please visit our ATAS webpages for further information.

You will be notified by the Staff Immigration Team if you are required to apply for an ATAS Certificate. They will advise you of your SOC code, academic subject (CAH3) code and provide you with 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

You will receive an email from HR notifying you that you need to log into your applicant account once your CoS is ready to be assigned. Once you have logged in to your applicant account, you will 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 is important that you 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 the University has an obligation 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 5-year CoS (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 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK. This is also known as ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (ILR). This 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 are no longer subject to visa restrictions in the UK and you will have the unlimited 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 listed here, 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 3 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 make their own separate applications as they will need your Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN). You will 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 cannot 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:

  • 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK
  • 8 weeks, if you're inside the UK

If you need to go to 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 will 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 here.

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

The IHS will cost an additional £624 per person per year that your visa is valid. Children aged under 18 pay a reduced fee of £470.

Support with immigration expenses

The University provides the following support for staff to help with the cost of immigration expenses:

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

After you apply

You will 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:

  • a sticker (called a 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 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 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 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. 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 will need to provide your BRP to your HR Recruitment Co-ordinator as soon as you receive it so that they can carry out the right to work check with you. This right to work check must be carried out prior to work commencing. If you have not yet collected your BRP before your first day, you can start work on the basis of your 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.

If you get access to your immigration status information online, you will need to share this information with your HR Recruitment Co-ordinator so that they can carry out a right to work check with you prior to work commencing.

Application refusals or problems with your BRP

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

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

Your passport will be returned if it was kept as part of your application and 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 your BRP, you should read this guidance and contact UKVI immediately.


If you have any questions, please contact us.