The University is a registered UKVI licence holder and, as such, is responsible for preventing illegal migrants working at the University.

Preventing Illegal Working - Right to Work Checks

On 29 February 2008, the Government introduced legislation, which requires the University as an employer to keep records of pre-employment checks on employees' eligibility to work in the UK. This pre-employment check is known as the Right to Work Check and must be completed prior to any work undertaken. To satisfy this requirement we ask prospective employees to provide us with documents from one of the two following lists. The documents must be provided in their original format and prior to undertaking any work.


You must provide either:

  • One document from List A or
  • A combination of two documents from List B

The standard operating procedure for School administrative staff responsible for checking immigration documents can be found here.

List A
  1. A passport showing the holder, or a person named in the passport as the child of the holder, is a British citizen or a citizen of the UK and Colonies having the right of abode in the UK.
  2. A passport or national identity card showing the holder, or a person named in the passport as the child of the holder, is a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  3. A Registration Certificate or Document Certifying Permanent Residence issued by the Home Office to a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  4. A Permanent Residence Card issued by the Home Office to the family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  5. current Biometric Immigration Document (Biometric Residence Permit) issued by the Home Office to the holder indicating that the person named is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay in the UK.
  6. current passport endorsed to show that the holder is exempt from immigration control, is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, has the right of abode in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay in the UK.
  7. current Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office to the holder with an endorsement indicating that the named person is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK or has no time limit on their stay in the UK, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.
  8. A birth (full or short) or adoption certificate issued in the UK which includes the name(s) of at least one of the holder’s parents or adoptive parents, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.
  9. A birth (full or short) or adoption certificate issued in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.
  10. A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.
List B

If you choose to provide us with the following documents, we are required to contact you on an annual basis to obtain a further copy.

Group 1 - Documents where time-limited permission lasts until the expiry date of leave:

  1. current passport endorsed to show that the holder is allowed to stay in the UK and is currently allowed to do the type of work in question.
  2. current Biometric Immigration Document (Biometric Residence Permit) issued by the Home Office to the holder which indicates that the named person can currently stay in the UK and is allowed to do the work in question.
  3. current Residence Card (including an Accession Residence Card or a Derivative Residence Card) issued by the Home Office to a non-European Economic Area national who is a family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland or who has a derivative right of residence.
  4. current Immigration Status Document containing a photograph issued by the Home Office to the holder with a valid endorsement indicating that the named person may stay in the UK, and is allowed to do the type of work in question, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.

Group 2 - Documents where time-limited permission lasts for 6 months:

  1. A Certificate of Application issued by the Home Office under regulation 17(3) or 18A (2) of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, to a family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland stating that the holder is permitted to take employment which is less than 6 months old together with a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office Employer Checking Service.
  2. An Application Registration Card issued by the Home Office stating that the holder is permitted to take the employment in question, together with a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office Employer Checking Service.
  3. Positive Verification Notice issued by the Home Office Employer Checking Service to the employer or prospective employer, which indicates that the named person may stay in the UK and is permitted to do the work in question.
Documents which are NOT acceptable

Under the UKVI immigration regulations, we are unable to accept the following documents as evidence of your right to work in the UK:

  • a Home Office Standard Acknowledgement Letter or Immigration Service Letter (IS96W) which states that an asylum seeker can work in the UK
  • a temporary National Insurance Number beginning with TN, or any number which ends with the letters from E to Z inclusive
  • a permanent National Insurance number when presented in isolation
  • a driving licence issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
  • a bill issued by a financial institution or a utility company
  • a passport describing the holder as a British Dependent Territories Citizen which states that the holder has a connection with Gibraltar
  • a licence provided by the Security Industry Authority
  • a document check by the Criminal Records Bureau
  • a card or certificate issued by the Inland Revenue under the Construction Industry Scheme

Information about the different types of Visas and sponsorship requirements.


Current Scheme

Tier 1 - Exceptional Talent

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is for those who are endorsed in their field of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts as a recognised leader (exceptional talent) or an emerging leader (exceptional promise).


Applications in this tier are not connected to the employer and individuals can proceed with their application independently. It is a two stage application process whereby endorsement is applied for first via the Home Office followed by the visa application.


Further guidance can be obtained from the Home Office here.

Tier 2 - General

The Tier 2 visa is for non-EEA nationals who require sponsorship by a licensed sponsor to undertake employment in the UK. The sponsor (employer) is required to undertake specific checks to ensure the role qualifies in order to request and assign a Certificate of Sponsorship. The Certificate of Sponsorship number is unique which the individual uses to make their application. 


The Tier 2 visa is a points has based system whereby the applicant must score 70 points in order to obtain this visa. The requirements are 30 points for obtaining a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS number), 20 points for receiving the appropriate salary, 10 points for meeting the English language criteria and 10 points for meeting the maintenance funds criteria. As the University is an A-rated sponsor, we can certify the maintenance for applicants.

Certificate of Sponsorship

The University has been granted a Licence to act as a Tier 2 Sponsor and therefore is permitted to sponsor recruited employees with a Certificate of Sponsorship to undertake work in the UK.

The Certificate of Sponsorship replaces the work permit and as we apply for it online it is issued immediately compared to the 2-3 weeks previously required to be granted a work permit. It is not a paper document but simply a unique reference number which the employee then uses to make their application for a visa or entry clearance.

As a Sponsor we have had to stipulate how many Certificates we are likely to issue per year and therefore to ensure that none are wasted we must be comfortable that an individual meets the points criteria before we grant a certificate.


When applying for the Tier 2 visa points are awarded based on qualifications; future expected earnings; sponsorship; English language skills and available maintenance funds. Before an application will be considered you must have a minimum of 70 points. Further information on this can be obtained here -


Section Certificate of Sponsorship Qualifications Prospective Earnings (£)

A (50 points needed)

Shortage Occupation 50 points

None 0 points

Below £20,000 0 points

Resident Labour Market Test 30 points

NVQ 3 5 points

£20,000 to £23,999 10 points

Switching from post-study work category 30 points

BSc 10 points

£24,000 to £27,999 15 points

Intra-Company Transfer 30 points

MSc or PhD 15 points

£28,000 to £31,999 20 points

£32,000 or above 25 points

B (10 points needed)

Maintenance requirement



C (10 points needed)

Competence in English





Sponsorship Requirements

The Points Based Immigration System came into effect on 27 November 2008 and there are several audit requirements introduced to ensure that sponsors comply with the immigration regulations and processes.


The University is therefore required to:

  • Carry out appropriate right to work checks on all employees prior to work commencing,
  • Maintain up to date contact details for all migrant workers,
  • Be able to demonstrate good HR practice in respect of recruiting and employing migrant workers (Resident Labour Market Test),
  • Report to the UKVI the following:
    • non-attendance of a foreign national
    • absence from work for 10 consecutive days
    • changes to the migrant worker's employment conditions (salary, role, location)
    • if the worker stops working for the University
    • any suspicions that the worker is breaching the terms of their visa
  • Provide proof of professional accreditations (and renewals) required by the migrant worker to undertake their job.
Tier 5 - Government Authorised Exchange

The Tier 5 – GAE route allows individuals to come to the University for a maximum period of 24 months to undertake research.  As the University is an A rated sponsor, we can certify your maintenance requirement. A letter from your employer confirming employment along with a letter from the academic at the University is required, which needs to outline reason for the invitation, duration of the research activity and confirmation that the activity is at or above NQF level 3.


Further information can be obtained here –


There is also Tier 5 – Youth Mobility Scheme that allows individuals to come to the UK for a maximum of 24 months. This route is not connected with a sponsor and therefore the individual is to apply directly for this. Further information can be obtained here -

Biometric Residence Permit BRP

Any non-EEA national applying from overseas for permission to stay in the UK for more than six months will be required to apply for a BRP and then to collect it within ten days of their first arrival in the UK.

As part of the visa process the applicant will be required to provide their intended date of travel, a UK address and post code. The UK post code submitted as part of the application process will be used to identify the branch of the Post Office to which the Biometric Residence Permit will be sent for collection by the applicant. Help will be provided as part of the application process to guide the applicant in selecting the most appropriate Post Office collection branch.

Successful applicants will receive a letter informing them of the decision, which will also include notification that they must collect their BRP from the designated Post Office branch within 10 days of arrival in the UK. The passport or travel document will also be endorsed with a 30 day short validity (travel) vignette - which will be valid for thirty days from the expected date of travel provided by the applicant - to enable them to travel to the UK and to collect their BRP.

You must have a biometric residence permit (BRP) if you want to:

You don’t have to apply separately for a BRP. You’ll give your personal data when you make your visa or immigration application.

What’s on your BRP?

Your BRP will include:

  • your name, date and place of birth
  • your fingerprints and a photo of your face (this is your ‘biometric information’)
  • your immigration status and any conditions of your stay
  • whether you can access public funds (eg benefits and health services)

You can use your BRP to confirm your:

  • identity
  • right to study or work in the UK
  • right to any public services or benefits you’re entitled to

Your BRP will be sent to you by post if you’re making your immigration or visa application from inside the UK. If you apply from outside the UK you’ll have to collect it from a Post Office in the UK.

For further guidance please refer to the UKVI website.

UK Health Surcharge

In 2015, the UK Government introduced an immigration health surcharge for non-EEA nationals who come to the UK to work, study or join family for a period of more than 6 months to permit access to the National Health Service (NHS) in the same way that a UK resident does. Payment maybe be required for some services such as dental treatment and eye tests.  

The surcharge is also payable by non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay in the UK. The surcharge is also payable by dependents who join their family here.  

The surcharge fees is £400 per year, per applicant (including dependents) for all visa and immigration applications. The fees are payable up front at the point of application.  

Further details can be reviewed at the Government webpages that also outline when payment needs to be made and details on exemptions.

Academic and Business Visitors

Standard Visa Visitor Route

This is the appropriate route for both Business Visitor and Academic Visitor.


The content of this guidance document is a summary of the Standard Visitor Visa Guidance. To view the guidance in full please visit  

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK for business-related activities, e.g:

  • You’re coming to the UK for a conference, meeting or training
  • You want to take part in a specific sports related event
  • You’re an artist, entertainer or musician coming to the UK to perform
  • You’re an academic and are doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad programme

What you can or cannot do

You can

  • Take part in any of the business-related activities mentioned in the visitor rules
  • Study for up to 30 days, as long as it’s not the main reason for your visit

You can’t

  • Do paid or unpaid work
  • Live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
  • Get public funds

Duration of Stay

  • For up to 6 months
  • You may be eligible to stay longer if you’re an academic on sabbatical and coming to the UK for research – you, your spouse or civil partner may be able to stay for up to 12 months.

You must always show that:

  • You’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
  • You’re able to support yourself and any dependents for the duration of your trip
  • You’re able to pay for your return or onward journey and any other costs relating to your visit
  • Any business or other activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the Visitor rules


You can stay in the UK for 12 months if you are applying as an academic.  You must prove you are highly qualified within your field of expertise, on sabbatical leave from your home institution and visiting to either:

  • Take part in a formal exchange within a UK counterpart
  • Carry out your own research
  • Take part in someone else’s research, teaching or clinical practice, as long as this doesn’t involve filling a permanent teaching post

Further details regarding Immigration Rules for all visitors can be found here.

Guidance on Supporting Letter from Host

The Letter of support should state the following:

  • The duration of stay
  • The dates of visit
  • The Academic visitor’s employer
  • The Academic’s field of expertise and status with employer
  • The reason for visit (sabbatical, exchange, or outlining the research to be undertaken).  The term “collaborative research” should be avoided.
  • Why you are willing to host the academic visitor
  • That the academic is not filling any post within the University
  • That there will be no payment made to the academic visitor
  • That they will return to their employer at the end of their stated visit
  • Any additional information you deem appropriate in supporting the application.
Permitted Paid Engagements

You can apply for a Permitted Paid Engagement visa if you:

For more information, please visit the GOV.UK page.

Please note:

  • That the supporting letter does not guarantee the issue of an Academic Visitor Visa.
  • That the supporting letter from the Academic visitor’s employer must not contradict the supporting letter from the Host.
  • The University of Aberdeen has no responsibility to monitor visiting Academics to the institution.

* Accurate as at date published – 11/02/2016


Employing International Students

Students who undertake paid employment with the University are subject to the same immigration checks as all employees of the University. Where a student has permission to work under the terms of their Student Visa (Tier 4) they can work a maximum of 20 hours per week during their term time. During their vacation time and on completion of their studies they are permitted to work full-time until the expiry of their visa. The work undertaken must not fill a full-time permanent vacancy, and must not be self-employed, employed as a doctor in training or as a professional sportsperson (including coach) or entertainer. 

It is the student’s responsibility to maintain their visa status throughout their studies and employment by the University remains conditional upon them holding the appropriate visa status. When a student visa is about to expire, the University will expect the individual to submit an application for an extension in good time so that visa validity is still in place whilst the extension application is being considered.  

Under the terms of the University’s UKVI sponsor license, we are obligated to complete a Positive Verification Notice via the UKVI Employer Checking Service to confirm that employment can continue. Consent from the individual extending their visa will be sought in order to undertake the PVN check.

Settlement/Indefinite Leave to Remain

This section explains what is required to apply for permission to settle (ILR) in the UK and information on how to apply to become a British citizen (citizenship/naturalisation).


Indefinite Leave To Remain

After individuals have lived and worked legally in the UK for a period of 5 years, they can become eligible to apply for permission to settle. This is known as Indefinite Leave to Remain.


Applications can be made within 28 days of the 5-year qualifying period and your HR Adviser can assist in supplying a letter to confirm details of your continued employment at the University. However, please note that an ILR application is a personal application and does not require sponsorship or endorsement from the University.

UK Settlement

To settle in the UK (indefinite leave to remain), you will have to pass the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK Test (KOLL). The KOLL test designed to make sure you are aware of the basics of UK life - things you should know if you are planning to live there permanently. It tests your knowledge of UK customs, government, law and values.


The Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK test will cover the following topics:

  • The values and principles of the UK
  • Traditions and cultures from around the UK
  • Events and people that have shaped the UK's history
  • UK government and law
  • How to get involved in the UK community 

The test is to be taken on a computer in a designated testing facility in the UK. You will be asked 24 questions and be given 45 minutes to complete the test. There is no limit to the number of times the test can be taken, so don't worry if you don't pass the first or even the second time.

Language Test

To pass the KOLL English test, you must speak English*, understand spoken English and be able to read English. You can meet this requirement in one of four ways: 

  • You are a national of a majority English speaking country.
  • You have obtained a degree taught in English.
  • You can prove that your knowledge of English is equivalent to B1 (intermediate level) on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR).
  • You can obtain a speaking and listening qualification in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Entry levels 1,2 or 3. You must study at an accredited institution on a course of study which uses citizenship-based teaching materials. 

*If you are taking the test in Scotland, you may request to take it in Scottish Gaelic. If you are taking the test in Wales, you may request to take it in Welsh.

Citizenship / Naturalisation

There are different ways to become a British citizen. The most common is called ‘naturalisation’.

You can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation if:

And you must usually have: 

  • lived in the UK for at least the 5 years before the date of your application
  • spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years
  • spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
  • been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (or permanent residence if you are an EEA/EU national)
  • had indefinite leave to stay in the UK for the last 12 months (or permanent residence if you are an EEA national)
  • not broken any immigration laws while in the UK


There are different requirements if your spouse or civil partner is a British citizen.


You cannot include any time spent in the UK when you are exempt from immigration control (eg as a diplomat or member of visiting armed forces) as part of the 5 years.


For more information, visit the 'Become a British Citizen' page. 


1. Do I need a Visa?

Check if you need a Visa 

2. Can a Dependant of a Work Permit Holder Get a Visa?

A dependant of a work permit holder can obtain a visa for entry to the UK that will match the duration of the work permit holders leave to remain. The dependant must be under 18 years of age, not be living independently and is unable to financially support themselves.

3. Can a Dependant of a Points-based System Migrant Get a Visa?

Yes, see UKVI document PBS Dependant Policy Guidance

4. Do we report to UKVI if a migrant worker gets Indefinite Leave to Remain or Gains British Citizenship? 

There is no need to report this to UKVI, even if the existing permission (work permit or points-based) still has some time to run. The HR Section will update their database to reflect the new visa details, and if someone has gained British citizenship, their nationality can be changed to British. Copies of original documents should be taken.

5. Can an Individual who is Working for us on a Dependant's Visa Switch into Tier 2 for the Same Job?

Switching (the term used when a migrant who is already legally in the UK changes immigration status from one immigration category to another) is only permissible in certain limited situations. Switching enables some of the criteria for points to be waived. It is not possible to switch from a dependants visa into Tier 2 (General), or any of the other Tier 2 sub-categories.

In certain circumstances the individual may be able to apply for their own Tier 1 (High value migrants) leave to remain (for a maximum of 3 years), and then be free to take up any employment in the UK for the period of the leave to remain.

However, in many cases the only option is to advertise the post that the individual is in. If the individual has the appropriate qualifications, English Language and maintenance (funds) and no EEA national is suitable for the job, then it may be possible to apply through Tier 2 (General) for a Certificate of Sponsorship.

6. How Long After a Position is Advertised Can we Apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A Certificate of Sponsorship must be assigned within 6 or 12 months of the date the vacancy was first advertised, depending on the nature and level of position.

7. How Long does a Certificate of Sponsorship Remain Valid?

A certificate of sponsorship under Tier 2 remains valid for 3 months from the date of assignment by the UKVI Managed Migration online system. An application for leave to enter or remain in the UK must be made within that 3 month period.

8. How Much Time Can an Employee Remain in the Country after the End of the Period of Employment?

The UKVI will normally give the employee leave to enter and remain in the UK one month more than the period of employment or 3 years and one month, whichever is shorter. Therefore, depending on how far in advance of the start date the employee entered the country (see Q7 above) the employee should have a leave to remain for a minimum of 14 days after the end of the employment.

Visa and Citizenship Application Service – Aberdeen Service Centre

UK Visas and Immigration have recently confirmed the opening of new Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UK VCAS) centres across the UK. These centres enable applicants to submit their biometric information and have their documents checked at an appointment rather than having to post documents to the UKVI and enrolling biometrics separately. This will allow individuals to retain important documents such as passports (however whilst an application is in process, individuals are required to remain in country to ensure the application does not become void.)

The service point centre in Aberdeen is within the Central Library on Rosemount Viaduct and appointments can to be arranged via the UKVI website when processing your application. There is also a centre in Glasgow, which is an enhanced service point. The cost of an appointment in Aberdeen is £60.

From 25th March 2019, the UKVI ask that all individuals seeking leave to remain in the UK or to settle permanently on the routes listed below to make an appointment at a UK VCAS centre. Please note that the Post Office will no longer be an option to use.

  • Tier 1 (Investor, Exceptional Talent, Entrepreneur, Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 4 (General) student, (Child) student
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)
  • PBS dependent: partner, child
  • Settle in the UK: indefinite leave to remain
  • Settle in the UK: long residence, child, partner of a person or parent of a child already settled in the UK
  • Settle or extend your leave in the UK; Turkish ECAA categories only
  • British Citizenship by naturalisation (if applying online)
  • Register as a British Citizen (if applying online)
  • Register for British Citizenship as a child under 18 (if applying online)
  • Update, replace or transfer: Biometric Residence Permit

Further information can be obtained directly from the UK VCAS website (UK VCAS FAQ’s)

Home Office Digital Research

The Home Office’s digital team for UK Visas and Immigration are committed to making digital services that can be used by everyone.  To do this, the Home Office carry out research with the people who use their services, to understand what improvements can be made.


The Home Office are currently looking for people who are interested in taking part in their research and who would be willing to join their research register or “panel’. The participants required are:

  • from outside the UK (including EU countries)
  • may need to apply for settled status or a UK visa in the future.

Taking part in the research will have no impact on current or future applications to the Home Office. The Home Office have committed that they will never share names or personal details about people taking part in research outside of the research team at the Home Office. Please note that your involvement with this research is not related to your employment and you would be participating as an individual in your own right.


Research sessions normally:

  • Last one hour (but sometimes can be longer).
  • Include the participant trying out some of the designs and giving feedback on these

As a thank you to the participants for their time, they will receive “Compliments” shopping vouchers for taking part in the session, which can be used in various high street shops.

To find out more about joining the Home Office research panel, please read the Participant Information Sheet. If you want to join the panel, fill in the recruitment survey. If you have any questions, please contact the Home Office at

Faster Travel with eGates

The Home Office have expanded the remit of eGates for faster entry into the UK for nationals of certain countries. Further details of the categories of which this applies can be found here -

UKVI- Customer Experience Pilot

The UKVI are currently undertaking a customer experience pilot to understand and improve communication to applicants regarding decision making timescales. As part of this process, a random selection of applicants will receive an email providing information on when the UKVI aim to make a decision on their application. This email will also include a link to a survey to provide feedback on the email communication.


Participation in the pilot is voluntary and will have no bearing on the immigration decision made by the UKVI. The pilot commenced at the beginning of June and will to December 2019.


Should you be in doubt of any communication from the UKVI, please liaise with your HR Partner or HR Adviser.


UKVI – Customer Experience Pilot- Email Wording