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

UKVI Immigration Guide relating to Coronavirus

The UKVI have published guidance in relation to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak and the impact on immigration.

Preventing Illegal Working - Right to Work Checks

No entry signOn 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. A 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. A 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. A 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. A 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. A 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. A 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. A 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. A 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
eVisa to Replace BRP - Summer 2024

Home Office invites select BRP holders to register for an eVisa

The UK Government is replacing physical immigration documents with eVisas. eVisas are a digital record of a person’s immigration status, eliminating the need for people to use physical documents like Biometric Residence Permits (BRP), passports with visa vignette stickers, or Biometric Residence Cards, to prove their status in the UK.

The Home Office is initially rolling out eVisas by sending email invitations to a small number of BRP holders. The eVisa service will then be rolled out to all BRP holders from Summer 2024.

If you have indefinite leave to enter or indefinite leave to remain (also known as settlement) and you currently prove your rights through a different type of physical document, such as a wet-ink stamp in your passport or a vignette sicker, you should make a ‘no time limit’ (NTL) application.

If you’re a current BRP holder and you haven’t been contacted directly by the Home Office, you do not need to register for an eVisa right now.  The Home Office  will contact you when it’s your turn to register for an eVisa.

For more information, click here.

Please also see the eVisa stakeholder fact sheet issued by the UK Government.

Visa Routes

The new immigration system has been launched effective 1st December 2020 which will be relevant for visa applications to come to the UK to study, work and visit from 1st January 2021 onwards.


Full details of the new immigration system can be found online here.

Skilled Worker

The Skilled Worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 route and will be the route for EU and non-EU nationals who wish to come to the UK to work and are eligible for sponsorship by the University. This is a points-based system where points are awarded for 3 mandatory elements and a combination of tradeable elements. The total number of points required to be eligible for sponsorship is 70 points.

These are made up from 3 mandatory elements which will provide 50 points –

  1. Job offer from an approved sponsor;
  2. Qualification level met at RQF 3/SCQF 6 (an appropriate SOC code will be required);
  3. Proven skills in English language (from a majority English speaking country, highest level qualification taught in English or IELTS at B1).

The additional 20 points are obtained from the following –

  1. Met the salary threshold (either the minimum salary requirement or the salary on the SOC code, whichever is the higher);
  2. Individual holds a PhD in a relevant subject or STEM subject;
  3. The job is on the Shortage Occupation List.

Line Managers who wish to recruit to a role should discuss any recruitment requirements with their HR Partner or HR Advisor. Any prospective member of staff who also wishes to discuss the Skilled Worker visa can contact HR. Further guidance on the new immigration system can be found online.


UK Health Surcharge

The Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced by the Government in 2015 and allows those coming to the UK to work, study or join family for a period of longer than 6 months to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the same way a UK resident does. The surcharge is payable by all visa applicants applying to remain in the UK for longer than 6 months under Skilled Worker, Global Talent, Student Route and for any dependents. The surcharge is £624 per applicant, per year of stay in the UK. The surcharge for dependents under 18 years (at the time of application) is £470, per applicant, per year of stay. The surcharge is payable up front at the point of application.

Further information on the Immigration Health Surcharge be found online.

Anyone currently on a Tier 2 visa does not need to do anything at this point and if you need to extend your visa, you will apply under the new system. Your current Tier 2 Biometric Residence Permit remains valid until the expiry date outlined.


Certificate of Sponsorship

The Certificate of Sponsorship is a unique number attributed to the applicant to allow them to proceed with their Skilled Worker visa. Your relevant HR Advisor or HR Partner will help you obtain this number from the Sponsor Management System which may take a couple of days.


Ongoing Sponsorship Requirements

To enable the University to continue to sponsor staff and to maintain our A-rated licence, there are several compliance requirements for both the University and the member of staff being sponsored. The University is required to undertake an annual audit of all staff with time limited permission to work in the UK. We will contact you to ask some questions about any changes to your personal details (address and telephone number, passport details) but also any changes such as office location on Campus, change to your job title, salary. In addition, we are required to report activity to the Home Office such as long-term absence if this impacts your salary and any unauthorised absence.

As a sponsored member of staff, you are required to comply with the terms of your visa.

Global Talent

The Global Talent visa has replaced the Tier 1 – Exceptional Talent visa and is designed to attract recognised global leaders in science, arts, humanities, engineering and digital technology. Academics and researchers in STEM subjects can benefit from a quicker endorsement process as part of the fast track STEM scheme.

Applicants under this route must be endorsed by a UK body as approved by the Home Office. The full list of endorsing bodies is detailed below -

  • The Royal Society, for science and medicine;
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering;
  • The British Academy, for humanities;
  • UK Research and Innovation, for science and research;
  • Tech Nation, for digital technology;
  • Arts Council England, for arts and culture.

Once endorsement is in place, the individual can proceed to make their application. The Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year will apply.

The fast track STEM scheme allows senior academics and researchers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics benefit from a quicker application process. Applicants must be in receipt of a fellowship; in a senior academic position (Professor) at an eligible Higher Education Institute or Research Institute and/or part of a publicly funded research team in receipt of prestigious funding or awards.

The Global Talent visa is a route to settlement in the UK after 3 years rather than 5 years in the UK. 

Temporary Worker

Temporary Worker – GAE route replaces Tier 5 – GAE which 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.

Under the Temporary Worker route, there is also a category for the 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.

Student Route

The student visa has changed from Tier 4 to Student Route visa which enables EU and non-EU students to come to study in Aberdeen. Students must have a CAS issued from the University and should liaise with Student Recruitment to discuss this further.

Students that hold a Student Route visa can work the maximum of 20 hours per week during term time. Please note that for PhD students the term time is the full year and they can only work more than 20 hours per week during a period of annual leave. Written permission must be provided from the PhD supervisor to confirm that the student is on annual leave and that more than 20 hours can be worked. The written permission must be provided in advance of additional hours being undertaken.

Those with Tier 4 visas are still valid and will be valid until the expiry date. The new Student Route visa will apply to new students entering the UK in January 2021.

Graduate Route

From Summer 2021, international students can apply to extend their stay in the UK post study under the Graduate Route visa.  The Graduate Route will enable students who have completed a degree programme at a UK University to stay in the UK for two years (three years for PhD graduates) to work at any level and to allow them to switch to eligible roles under the Skilled Worker visa.

Further details can be found online regarding this route.

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

Any EU and non-EU applicant seeking 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 with 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 date of travel provided by the applicant. This time period enables the individual to travel to the UK and to collect their BRP.

Please note – you should not arrive in the UK before the valid date of your visa, arriving early will require you to leave the Common Travel Area (UK and Ireland) and return after the visa valid date.

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

You do not have to apply separately for a BRP. You will give your personal data when you make your visa or immigration application.

What’s on your BRP?

  • 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 are entitled to

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


ATAS Requirement

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate applies to academic researchers who are subject to UK immigration control and who will undertake research at PhD level in certain areas/disciplines. The ATAS certificate scheme already applies to students but will now include academic researchers from 21st May 2021.  The ATAS certificate is issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and will be required as part of your visa application and permission to enter the UK. For those individuals who require the ATAS certificate, it will need to be shown at the border to obtain entry clearance.

The University is obligated under UK immigration law to ensure you have an ATAS certificate granted prior to you undertaking research covered under the Scheme.

Who requires an ATAS certificate

Academic researchers who are coming to the UK under Skilled Worker, Tier 5 or a visitor (to research) and are nationals of specific countries and will be undertaking research in certain research areas/disciplines.

Nationals of the following countries are exempt: EU countries, EEA countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United States of America. All other nationals will require an ATAS certificate if they are undertaking research at PhD level in certain research areas/disciplines.

For Skilled Workers, the ATAS requirement falls under several frequently used SOC codes for academic positions including 2119 Natural and social science not elsewhere classified, 2311 Higher Education Professionals and 3111 Laboratory Technicians. The full list of relevant SOC codes and subject discipline CAH codes can be found in Annex S1 of guidance online. For SOC code 2311, the ATAS requirement will only apply when research is being undertaken at PhD level.

For those applying under Tier 5, the ATAS certificate is required as part of the application process. For visitors (coming to undertake research), it is strongly recommended that you obtain the ATAS certificate prior to travelling to the UK. The University is required to check the ATAS certificate prior to any research commencing and a visitor cannot attend Campus without having the certificate in place. 

For those already in the UK (Tier 2, Tier 5 or Skilled Worker), you do not need to obtain an ATAS certificate unless you are extending your visa. When you extend your visa, you must apply for the ATAS certificate prior to applying for your new visa. If you have not received your ATAS certificate at the point you apply for your new visa, please let your HR Partner or HR Adviser know so they can inform the Home Office can be advised that your ATAS certificate will follow.

Application Process and Timelines

The ATAS certificate application is completed online. For the application, you will need –

  • Information about the research you will be undertaking at a detailed level to be provided in a research statement noting with the relevant CAH code (area/discipline of research).  The University will assist in providing the research statement. Please liaise with your Head of School, Line Manager or PI to draft and prepare this document.
  • The research statement is limited to 2,000 characters (6-8 lines) and should outline a brief summary of the research including information of the scope, application of the research, experimental tests, methods/techniques which might be used. It should include complex technical details where appropriate.

You will be required to provide information on the following as part of your application –

  • previous studies,
  • previous and current employment,
  • list of all published papers,
  • your area of research and description within a research statement as agreed with your line manager/PI/Head of School,
  • 2 referees full names and contact details (ideally that you have known for over 3 years),
  • how you will be sponsored whilst in the UK (i.e Skilled Worker, Tier 5 or visitor).

Further detailed guidance is available online, please carefully review the information when making your ATAS certificate application.  

The application processing time is 10 working days but will increase to approximately 15 working days during peak periods (April to September). There is no fee to obtain an ATAS certificate.

Conducting Research at more than 1 HEI or Research Institute

If you are conducting research at more than 1 institution, the applicant will need to apply for an ATAS certificate for each institution. The applicant will be required to outline the research that will be undertaken at each institution.

University Transfers (already in the UK and transferring under TUPE Transfer Regulations)

If you transferring to the University of Aberdeen as part of a research group (under TUPE transfer regulations) and already have your ATAS certificate in place, you will not require to obtain a new one as part of the transfer process.

Privacy Information

Further information on the ATAS Scheme privacy notice is available online.

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. ou 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


EUSS - Automatic pre-settled status extension and upgrade to settled status

From September 2023, individuals with pre-settled status under the EUSS automatically have their status extended by two years before it expires, if they have not already acquired settled status.  This process will be automated by the Home Office and the extension will be reflected in the individual’s digital status via their UKVI account.  Individuals will be notified of the extension by the Home Office directly by email.  Once the extension has been granted, the individual’s pre-settled status rights will continue. 

The Home Office also intends to take steps during 2024 to automatically upgrade pre-settled status holders to full settled status.  Those affected will no longer need to make a second application, provided that automated government checks (HMRC and DWP) can establish their ongoing continued residence in the UK.  If the Home Office cannot make that decision based on the available date, those with pre-settled status are likely to be invited to apply for settled status, if they wish to do so. 

The above changes have been incorporated into the Immigration Rules for the EUSS in Appendix EU.  

EU Settlement Scheme enhancements confirmed - GOV.UK (

Suggested practical steps for UoA Staff holding EUSS pre-settled status

Given the uncertainty around how this new system will work and the potential for issues relating to right to work, and right to rent we suggest that individuals with pre-settled status take the following proactive steps:

  • If you are eligible for settled status (lived continuously in the UK for at least 5 years) you should apply for settled status as soon as you are eligible to do so. You do not have to wait to the extension.
  • You must not allow your pre-settled status to expire without making another application, unless you have been notified by the Home Office that your leave has been automatically extended. 
  • You must keep your online digital status up to date, especially if you have updated your passport, or email address since you obtained your pre-settled status.
  • Maintain your residence records to demonstrate your continuous residence in the UK, in case automated government records do not contain adequate data to evidence your eligibility for settled status under the EUSS

Please note:

If you have received confirmation of your extension to your pre-settled status already, or you may have applied for, or been automatically granted settled status you should  arrange to obtain a share code and share this with  your HR Adviser to ensure that an online right to work check can be arranged. 


Late Applications

The rules relating to late applications has changed, with the Home Office taking a much stricter stance on reasonable grounds for a late application. 

For example, it will no longer be automatically acceptable to state that an application was submitted late for the following reasons:

  • The applicant was unaware of the requirement to apply to the EUSS by the deadline relevant to them
  • They had limited English language skills
  • They were digitally excluded
  • Other personal circumstances, such as simply overlooking the need to apply or other commitments
  • The impact of Covid restrictions on the ability to make an application
  • There is no longer a presumption that victims of modern slavery will have reasonable grounds for applying late. 

Rejected Application - Right to administrative review

If the Home Office rejects an application, it is considered invalid  and there will be no right of administrative review. 

Lapsed Settled Status (ILR)

Immigration Rules - Immigration Rules Appendix Returning Resident - Guidance - GOV.UK (


A person whose settlement has lapsed and who wants to return and settle in the UK must apply for entry clearance to return to the UK.  The government has implemented a new Returning Resident route.  A returning resident means “ person who previously had indefinite permission to enter or stay (settlement) in the UK which has now lapsed and who now wants to return to and settle in the UK”.  Where that application is as a returning resident.

Your settlement (ILR) will have lapsed if you have been absent for:

  • more than 5 years, if you previously had settlement in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • more than 4 years, if you previously had settlement in the UK under the EUSS as a Swiss national or a family member of a Swiss national.  
  • otherwise more than 2 years.
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 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. For those undertaking PhD studies, the term time is considered the full year and these students cannot work more than 20 hours unless on vacation time or on completion of their PhD. Explicit written permission from the PhD supervisor is required to outline that the student is on vacation time and can work more than 20 hours. 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. Under the new immigration system, the introduction of a Graduate route to permit post study work is expected to be launched in Summer 2021. Further details can be found here.

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)