Q. I'm a non-visa national and used the 'Check if you need a UK visa' on the Home Office website. Is it correct that I do not need a visa to enter the UK?
A. When the Home Office website states that you do not need a visa to come to the UK, it means you do not need to apply for and be granted a visa before coming to the UK.
All visa and non-visa nationals need a visa to enter the UK. However, the visas they obtain look a bit different from one another.
A visa national receives a entry vignette in their passport which is stamped by UK border control. Non-visa nationals, on the other hand, can travel to the UK without a entry vignette and should instead present their documents to UK border control. If the Immigration Officers are satisfied that the main purpose of your visit complies with the visitor visa category you are wishing to enter as, you will be permitted to enter the UK under this Visitor visa route. You may or may not receive an entry stamp in your passport. If you receive an entry stamp this acts as your visa, if you don't receive an entry stamp you will have to keep your boarding pass (or other document showing when you entered the UK) so you know when you entered and when you will have to leave six months later, if not before.
If you're a non-visa national who enters the UK as a tourist visa, you will be expected to undertake only tourist activities and cannot have any involvement with the University. This will not permit you to undertake any activities classified under any of the other visitor visa categories. In order to change the visitor visa category, the individual would need to leave and re-enter the UK under the correct visitor visa route.
Q. Are letters of invitation from the University always required?
A. Visitors to the University who are coming as an Academic or Business visitor or as a Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) visitor will always require a letter of invitation from the HR team in the host department or college to present with their visa application (for visa nationals) or to Immigration Officers at their UK port of entry (for non-visa nationals).
Those who are visiting only open access areas of the University, such as public areas of Museums and Libraries, would not require a letter of invitation. Letters of invitation are not required for dependants who are accompanying Visitors, nor do they need to be listed in the Visitor’s letter of invitation.
The Staff Immigration Team has produced template for Business Visitor template letter of invitation and Academic Visitor template letter of invitation and a PPE Visitor letter of invitation that the HR team in the host department or college will use to draft and issue the invitation letter to the visitor. Please note that a letter of invitation will not guarantee a successful visa application/successful entry to the UK. This decision is made solely by Home Office caseworkers (if a visa application had to be submitted) and/or by Immigration Officers at the UK port of entry.
Q. If I hold a UK visitor visa, can I apply for a Skilled Worker or a Tier 5 within the UK?
A. No, it is not possible to switch to any other UK visa route from within the UK. If you are eligible to apply under a different UK visa route you will have to leave and apply from outside the UK.
Q. Can the University pay travel and subsistence expenses to Visitors?
A. Visitors are not permitted to receive pay from a UK source (except PPE Visitors who must be paid), however, payment of reasonable expenses to cover the cost of travel and subsistence is permitted. The Home Office do not define ‘reasonable’ so please ensure any payments can be justified. If unsure on this point please go our 'Contact us' page and speak to your key contact within the Staff Immigration Team to discuss prior to the invitation letter being issued.
Q. Does the NHS Surcharge apply when applying for a Visitor visa?
A: No, the NHS Surcharge does not apply to the Visitor visa categories, even where the visa is issued for more than 6 months. Visitor visa holders are charged for any NHS treatment they receive (at a rate of 150% of the cost of treatment) and are advised to ensure they have adequate insurance for their visit.
If someone applying for a Visitor visa has failed to pay charges for NHS treatment on a previous visit to the UK their application will normally be refused.