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Any non-UK academic or  researcher who wishes to visit the UK can do so via the visitor visa sytem. For some nationalities, they will require a visa in advance of travel, but some nationalities will be able to seek entry as a visitor at the border without the need to gain a visa in advance of travel (for example, EU/EEA/Swiss nationals, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand nationals etc.). For a full list of nationalities who do require a visitor visa in advance on travel, please see the Home Office guidance here

The Visitor (Standard) visa, or where entry is sought at the border, will be granted for a maximum of 6 months (there is an exception for academic visitors - please see below)

There is a wide range of activities that individuals can undertake on the Visitor (Standard) visa. For full details, see the UK Visas and Immigration webpages.  However, for individuals visiting the University to undertake a short period of work, the majority of these activities will not be relevant. Therefore, only the activities which are relevant to the University have been described in the eligibility section below.

ATAS requirements

From May 2021, relevant international researchers applying for a Visitor Visa must obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before they can undertake any research in the UK. 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 hosting 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 and our guidance webpages.


The table below outlines the types of permissible activities that can be undertaken depending on the type of person being invited to the University. 

Note: individuals coming to the UK to undertake an internship or a work-placement cannot use a visitor visa/visitor status conferred at the border to facilitate this. Please see the GAE T5 temporary worker visa route as an alternative. 

Type of visitor


Permissible activities

Maximum validity of visa

Any person invited by the hosting department/institution


  • Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews;


  • 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;


  • Negotiate and sign deals and contracts;


  • Attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling;


  • Carry out site visits and inspections;


  • Gather information for their employment overseas;


  • Employee of an overseas company or organisation receiving training from a UK based organisation in work practices and techniques which are required for the visitor’s employment overseas and not available in their home country.


  • Archaeologists taking part in a one-off archaeological excavation;


  • A Professor from an overseas academic institution accompanying students to the UK as part of a study abroad programme, may provide a small amount of teaching to the students at the host organisation. However this must not amount to filling a permanent teaching role for that institution.


In addition to undertaking the above activities, visitors are also permitted to:

  • Visit friends, family and / or come to the UK for a holiday


  • Perform up to 30 days of incidental study and/or 30 days of incidental volunteering with a registered charity at any time.











6 months

Scientists and researchers:

  • Invited by the hosting department/institution; and 
  • Who remain paid and employed at their overseas institution.


  • Gather information and facts for a specific project which directly relates to their employment overseas, or conduct independent research;


  • Share knowledge or advise on an international project that is being led from the UK, provided the visitor is not carrying out research in the UK.


6 months

Academic Visitors:

  • Invited by the hosting department/institution; and
  • Who are highly qualified in their own field of expertise; and
  • Who are currently working in that field at an Institution overseas

(Note: Undergraduate and post-graduate students currently studying would not qualify as an academic under this definition)

  • Taking part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts (including doctors);


  • Carrying out research for their own purposes if they are on sabbatical leave from their home institution;
  • Eminent senior doctors or dentists, taking part in research, teaching or clinical practice provided this does not amount to filling a permanent teaching post.

12 months *

* It is only possible to obtain a 12 month visa where the individual applies for a visitor visa in advance of travel to the UK. Where seeking entry at the border as an 'academic visitor', entry will only be granted for a maximum of 6 months.

How to apply for a visa

For further details, please see the How to Apply section of our webpages.

Visitor visa restrictions

In all cases, holders of a Visitor (Standard) visa cannot:

  • Undertake any form of employment in the UK (except for the permissible activities listed above);
  • Fill a normal post or a genuine vacancy, even on a temporary basis;
  • Receive funding for their work from any UK source (payments of expenses, including travel and subsistence may be disregarded – see below);
  • Stay in the UK for more than 6 months (or 12 months for visiting academics);
  • Switch to any other immigration category whilst inside the UK;
  • Have recourse to public funds.

Acceptable Payments

The individual must not receive payment from a UK source for any activities undertaken in the UK, except for reasonable expenses to cover the cost of their travel and subsistence, including fees for directors attending board-level meetings.

A visitor’s travel, maintenance and accommodation may be provided by a third party (which can be the University) provided:

  • They have a genuine professional or personal relationship with the visitor; and
  • They are legally present in the UK, or will be at the time of the visitor’s entry to the UK; and
  • They can and will provide support to the visitor for the intended duration of their stay.

Children - attending state school in the UK

The only circumstance in which a Visitor Visa holder's child(ren) may attend a state school in the UK is if the adult they are accompanying has been granted an Academic Visitor Visa before they travel to the UK (regardless of whether or not they were required to do so by their nationality or the duration of their visit). Responsibility for deciding whether to admit a child to a school rests with the school’s admission authority, which is the local authority in the case of a community or voluntary controlled school, and the school’s governing body in the case of voluntary aided or foundation school. Please see the University Childcare Office's website for more information.