skip to content

Most non-UK/Irish academics and researchers who wish to visit the UK can do so via one of categories within the Standard Visitor visa system. 

The categories are:

If none of these categories suit your visitor, please check our Government Authorised Exchange (Temporary Work) (GAE) visa webpage. If you are unsure which category of visitor is best, you may find our visitor tool helpful.

Eligibility requirements for all categories

  • The visitor must be a “genuine visitor”. In other words, they are seeking entry into the UK for a permitted purpose, after which they will leave, and they will have enough money to support themselves and pay for a return/onward journey at the end of the visit without working or accessing public funds.
  • International researchers who are coming to the UK on a Standard Visitor visa and who meet the eligibility criteria* must have obtained an ATAS certificate before their visit begins. The ATAS requirement only applies to certain nationalities, and in certain roles and research fields.
    • As part of the ATAS application process, the individual will be required to submit information about their programme of research including the relevant 'CAH3' code. This must be arranged by the recruiting department/institution, via the HR58 form.
    • Note: though the ATAS certificate is not required for a Visitor visa application, we strongly recommend that you do not issue an invitation letter supporting a visa application until the visitor can provide you with the certificate. This is to eliminate the risk of the visitor arriving in the UK without ATAS clearance and being unable to begin their visit, either because the application has not yet been decided, or because it is refused.

* For further guidance on the ATAS scheme and making an application, please see:

  • Study is only allowed for up to 6 months and the visitor must have been accepted onto a course provided by an Accredited Institution that is not a State Funded School or Academy.

Permitted activities for all categories

  • Standard Visitors may come to the UK to visit friends and family and/or visit the UK for a holiday;
  • They can take part in educational exchanges or visits with a state funded school or academy or independent school; 
  • They can also attend recreational courses (not English Language training) for a maximum of 30 days;
  • Standard Visitors are permitted to volunteer, but only for 30 days in total and only for a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland or the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator;
  • They may also undertake work for their overseas employer, provided this is not the primary purpose of their visit.