Information for new staff requiring a visa to work in the UK - Certificate of Sponsorship, Visa and BRP

If you do not yet have the legal right to work in the UK, you need to have both a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and a visa before you can start work at the University. The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) gives the University permission to employ you (and is therefore not transferable to other employers), and the visa gives you permission to stay and work in the UK.  You can check if you already have the right to work in the UK here: www.gov.uk/legal-right-work-uk

There are two stages to obtaining the right to work in the UK.  The first stage is for the University to obtain a CoS, and this will be done by your Faculty HR Office.  The second stage is for you to make your visa application.  The visa applicaton process is different depending on whether you are in the UK or out of the UK at the time of your application.  Either way, the responsibility for obtaining your visa lies with you.  If you are coming from outside the UK, you will also need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within 10 days of arriving in the UK.

Stage 1 - Certificate of Sponsorship application

Your Faculty/Divisional HR team will apply for your CoS using the UKVI online system.  Your HR team can do so no earlier than three months in advance of your proposed start date and the process will vary depending on whether it is for an Unrestricted or a Restricted CoS. 

You will first need to supply your HR team with copies of all your higher education qualification certificates (first degree and above) together with translations into English where necessary.  If you need to prove English language proficiency as part of your visa application (as outlined here: www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/knowledge-of-english), you will also need to provide HR with details of how you will be demonstrating this. 

There is a fee for the CoS which the University will pay.  A CoS will be requested for the duration of your contract or for the maximum permissible time in the first instance. If a subsequent CoS is required to complete your contract this will be issued to cover the remainder of your contract or for the maximum permissible time.  On completion of 5 years’ continuous employment on a CoS you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (a settlement visa).   For more information on Settlement in the UK, please see: 

www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/settle-in-the-uk 

The CoS is a reference number which holds information about your job and your personal details. It is not an actual certificate or paper document.  Once the CoS is issued, your Faculty HR Office will forward the unique reference number to you to use for your personal visa application.  

Stage 2 - Your visa application 

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) uses a points-based system when considering visa applications.  For more information please see www.gov.uk/tier-2-general

a)      If you are outside the UK 

You now apply for a visa giving you entry clearance and limited leave to remain in the UK under Tier 2 (General) before you can start work. Please refer to the following website for guidance on the visa application process in your country:  

www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/apply 

A list of visa application centres can be found at www.gov.uk/find-a-visa-application-centre  

b)      If you are in the UK 

You now apply for a visa giving you limited leave to remain in the UK under Tier 2 (General) before you can start work. You will need to complete the Tier 2 application form which can be found at the following website, together with guidance notes: 

www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/apply 

Once completed, you send the form to the address given at the start of the form, together with the supporting documents requested.  

For all applications 

You are required to pay a fee to UKVI for your visa. A list of fees payable is available at the UKVI website below. However, you can claim the full cost of the standard application fee from the University once you start work.

www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/overview

It is not possible to confirm how long it will take for your visa to be approved. Current processing times for in-UK applications are available at www.gov.uk/visa-processing-times. For applications made from outside the UK your visa application centre will advise you on processing times.

When your visa has been issued to you, inform your Faculty/Divisional HR team and contact your recruiting department to agree a start date. The earliest possible start date will be the issue date of the visa. Your HR team will write to you to formalise the start date and give you details on how to reclaim the standard visa application fee.  

Your Biometric Residence Permit 

If you are applying from outside the UK, on arrival in the UK you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Your BRP is a card proving you have the right to stay and work in the UK and includes your personal identity and visa details. You must collect your BRP from a local Post Office within 10 days of arrival in the UK (www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits). You must then present your BRP in person to the Faculty/Divisional HR Office, together with your passport or national travel document, for checking on your first day of work. 

If you are applying from inside the UK your new Biometric Residence Permit will be sent to you at your UK address. You must present your BRP in person to the Faculty HR Office, together with your passport or national travel document, for checking on your first day of work. 

Important Note: Please be aware that you will not be eligible for public funds during your time in the UK as a Tier 2 migrant. 

Extensions to your visa 

If your contract is longer than the duration of your visa, your HR team will arrange to issue another CoS no earlier than 3 months before the expiry date of your current visa. You will then need to apply for a visa extension (see Stage 2 - Your visa application, above). You must apply for an extension before the expiry date of your current visa in order to continue working legally while the further visa application is being considered. If this deadline is not met, you must stop work, and cannot be paid until the visa extension has been approved. 

If you have any questions regarding the Certificate of Sponsorship process, please contact your HR Adviser (contact details at the top of your offer letter).  

Sources of useful information: