When to apply
A Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) once issued is valid for 3 months. A visa application must be submitted before the date of expiry on the CoS. After this date the CoS will no longer be valid and cannot be used.
A visa application must also not be submitted more than 3 months before the start date listed on the CoS.
Dependants can apply at the same time as the main applicant, though each dependant will need to submit a separate application. Dependants cannot apply before the main applicant: they must either submit their application at the same time as the main applicant, after the main applicant has submitted their application, or after the main applicant’s visa has been granted.
How to apply
Visa applications are submitted online. Applicants should ensure that they check the Tier 5 visa requirements before applying, as well as the Home Office guidance for submitting a UK visa application in their country of residence.
Step 1: apply online
The applicant will need to complete an online application form. Guidance and a link to the online application can be found on the Home Office Tier 5 'Apply' page.
Any dependants must apply separately, and submit an individual application. Guidance and a link to the online application can be found on the Home Office Tier 5 'Family members' page.
The online application forms should be intuitive, and only ask for information relevant to the application being made. The Staff Immigration Team is happy to provide guidance on the completion of the application, and encourages applicants to email a downloaded PDF of the drafted application to be checked before submission. An application cannot be amended once the ‘Declaration’ section has been completed, so a draft PDF should be downloaded once the applicant reaches the ‘Document’ section.
Once they have carefully checked the details and submitted their application, the applicant will need to pay the combined visa application and biometric enrolment fee.
If their Certificate of Sponsorship is for more than 6 months, the applicant and their dependants will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This is a one-off payment that allows access to the National Health Service for the duration of the visa.
When the visa application, and immigration health surcharge fees have been paid, two PDF documents are generated: the completed application form and a supporting evidence checklist.
These two PDFs should be sent to the Staff Immigration Team for future reference, and to help the team provide assistance if any issue with the application arises after submission.
Step 2: book a biometrics appointment
Once they have submitted their application, the applicant should be automatically directed to book a biometrics appointment at a Visa Application Centre in their country of residence. At this appointment, the applicant will enrol their biometrics (photographs and fingerprints), and submit their documents.
EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland nationals holding a biometric passport can you the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' app rather than attending an appointment.
The exact process may differ depending on country, so applicants are encouraged to check the Home Office guidance on how to apply for a UK visa in their country of residence.
Costs and how long it takes
Applicants and each of their dependents will incur a visa application fee, immigration health surcharge fee, and any additional fees for priority services.
Visa application fees will be the same regardless of the duration of the Certificate of Sponsorship. For more information about the costs of the Tier 5 visa, please see our Tier 5 costs page.
The Priority service is paid in addition to the visa application fee, and Priority service fees may vary according to country.
Applicants should note that many application fees, including the visa application fee and immigration health surcharge, are paid in US dollars, and they will be liable for any currency exchange fees.
How long it takes
A Standard Tier 5 visa application should be decided within 3 weeks of the application being submitted online and registering their biometric details. It may take longer to receive a decision if the applicant has had a prior visa refusal, or if the Home Office needs to request more information.
A Priority service visa application should be decided within 5 working days of the biometrics appointment.
Please note that the Home Office generally does not recommend that applicants with previous visa refusals use the Priority service.
What happens next
Once their Tier 5 application has been granted, the applicant should receive an Entry Clearance vignette (visa sticker) in their passport as well as a decision letter.
The visa sticker will be valid for around 30 days, and will allow the applicant to enter the UK within that period.
The decision letter will confirm the full dates for which the Tier 5 visa has been granted, the address of the Post Office from which their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) can be collected, and the date from which their BRP should be available for collection. This will be based on the applicant’s work location and intended travel date listed in their visa application.
Applicants will need to present their passport, visa sticker, and decision letter when collecting their BRP. An applicant must collect their BRP within 10 days, and could face a financial penalty and/or have their visa curtailed if they do not.
For more information, please see the Home Office website on Biometric residence permits: overseas applicant and sponsor information.
EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland nationals, who have a biometric passport and used the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' app will instead have a digital immigration status, and will not receive a vignette or a BRP.
Important points to note
The Staff Immigration Team cannot guarantee the successful outcome of any Tier 5 visa application since this decision is made by the Home Office and not by the University.
It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that they provide the correct supporting documents when submitting their visa application. Should the applicant submit their visa application after their Certificate of Sponsorship has expired, or fail to supply the correct supporting documents, their application will be refused, and their CoS can no longer be used.
If this is the case, the University will need to issue another Certificate of Sponsorship.
Delayed start date
The Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) lists a start date when the Tier 5 sponsored researcher is going to start their visit. If there are any delays, the Tier 5 visa applicant must inform their host department or college at University of Oxford of this as soon as possible. SIT can only make amendments to a CoS before the visa application has been submitted to the Home Office. However, even if the visa application has already been submitted, any delays or changes should be communicated to the Staff Immigration Team.
If the CoS is for a 2 year period, the applicant will be granted with a visa length of exactly 2 years, based on the arrival date entered on the visa application. Applicants should think carefully about the arrival date entered. Entering this significantly earlier than the CoS start date may mean the visit has to be cut short.
If the CoS is issued for less than 2 years, the applicant will be granted a visa that is for the period specified plus 14 days before and after.
Travelling to the UK as a Visitor
Applicants should note that, once they have submitted their Tier 5 visa application, or after their Tier 5 visa has been granted, they must not enter the UK as a Visitor (e.g. as a tourist). If they do, their Tier 5 visa will no longer be valid, and they will not be able to start their employment. Any travel plans should be communicated to the Staff Immigration Team.
Applicants with children
The Home Office has strict requirements for dependant children applicants (i.e. those under the age of 18). Please see the Home Office Guidance for dependant visas for more information.