skip to content

How to Apply

Applications for entry under this route cannot be made from inside the UK.

For visitor visas, not all nationalities are required to apply for a visa in advance of travelling to the UK. Please see the table below for full details:

Visa nationals

(See link for full list of nationalities)


  • Visa nationals must apply for a visa in advance before coming to the UK. This is known as entry clearance.


  • An application must be made online.


  • Applications should not be made more than three months before the date of intended travel.


  • Applications for visitor entry clearance can be made from any country and do not have to be made from the individual’s country of residence. (Source: UKVI Entry Clearance guidance)

Non-visa nationals


  • Individuals who are not classed as visa nationals are not required to apply for a visitor visa in advance of travelling to the UK. Instead, they are permitted to seek ‘leave to enter’ at any UK port from an immigration officer.


  • Where an individual seeks entry as a visitor at the UK border, they will only ever be given entry for 6 months maximum. If the individual wishes to enter as an academic visitor for a period of between 6 and 12 months, they, and their dependants, must apply online for a visa in advance of travelling to the UK.

Application process

If the individual needs to make a visitor visa application in advance of coming to the UK, they will need to submit the following documents when making an application:

  • Original, valid passport
  • One passport sized photograph
  • Documents confirming financial and residential status
  • Visitor invitation letter from the hosting department/institution (see guidance below)
  • Academics seeking entry on a 12 month visa will also require a letter from their current employer on official headed paper, detailing the period of their sabbatical, exchange or outlining the research to be undertaken.

Please see the UKVI Guide to supporting documents for full details of the documentary requirements.

If the individual is a non-visa national seeking entry at the border for a visit to the UK, they will need to carry all of the above documentation except for the passport photograph.

Invitation Letters

When determining who to invite, individual departments/institutions may adopt their own criteria in order to identify suitable visitors which best meet their local academic needs. Where persons being invited are not known personally to members of staff in the department, caution is advisable. For example, it is strongly recommended that you ensure that the overseas academic Institution of the visitor exists and that the visitor is definitely employed there, as well as having a clear understanding of the purpose of the visit for both parties.

Individuals who wish to visit the University to undertake one of the permissible activities should be issued with an invitation letter. The University has produced a template letter that you can use as required. The invitation letter is required:

  • To help the individual gain entry clearance/leave to enter (if seeking entry at the UK border)
  • To set out clearly to the visiting individual and the Immigration Officer the purpose of the visit and that is meets one of the permissible activities.

If you require help with drafting the invitation letter, please contact your departmental administrator or the Compliance Team.

For individuals attending a job interview, the invitation to interview letter will be sufficient and no additional letter will be required.


For up-to-date infromation on visitor visa fees, please see the webpgages here:

For non-visa nationals seeking entry at the border, there is no cost.

Applications for a Standard (Visitor ) visa are not subject to the NHS Immigration Surcharge, even where they are issued for longer than 6 months.


Individuals refused a visitor visa will have no right of appeal and would be expected to make a further visitor application, addressing the reasons for refusal. In the event of visa refusal please contact the Compliance Team for further guidance.