There are many visa types which allow the visa holder to work in the UK, but often under different conditions and restrictions. While the Staff Immigration Team (SIT) do not provide advice and guidance on all of these visa routes, we can assist University of Oxford employees and visitors with basic queries and signpost to the relevant Home Office guidance. Please see an overview of some of these visas below.
Personnel administrators who have been provided with one of these visas when carrying out a right to work check and are unsure of the conditions and restrictions should contact SIT for advice and consult the University's guidance on right to work checks.
Diplomats, heads of state, overseas government ministers, members of some armed forces posted to the UK, and employees of international organisations such as the United Nationals, and some NGOs can be 'exempt from immigration control' and travel to the UK without a visa, if they are coming to carry out activities which form part of their role.
To avoid delays when travelling to, and entering, the UK those who are 'exempt from immigration control' can (but do not have to) apply for an 'exempt vignette' endorsement in their passport.
Those from any of these groups may require a UK visa if they are instead coming to the UK to undertake activities or employment outside their main role.
Cases involving those who fall under these categories should be discussed with the Staff Immigration Team (SIT) as early as possible so that the correct advice, and assistance if required, can be provided.
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Family members of Points Based System (PBS) (i.e. Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5) visa holders can apply for a PBS Dependant visa. The only restrictions on employment for PBS Dependant visa holders is that they cannot undertake work as a doctor or dentist in training, a professional sportsperson, or a sports coach. Guidance for family members applying for PBS Dependant visas is provided alongside our guidance for Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5 applicants.
While it is possible for visa holders (but not those on Visitor visas) to switch to a PBS Dependant visa from within the UK, if a PBS Dependant visa holder wishes to switch into a different visa route they will have to leave and apply from outside the UK.
Those granted Refugee status, Discretionary Leave, or Humanitarian Protection, in the UK have unrestricted employment rights and can normally apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years. A BRP may not state that the holder has been granted rights in the UK under these categories but should clearly state that work is permitted.
Those who have submitted an application for asylum would not normally be permitted to work but in some cases work is permitted. If work rights have been granted this should be clearly stated on the applicant's Asylum Registration Card (ARC). University guidance on right to work includes a 'right to work checklist' which details the extra steps required to establish right to work for those with an ARC which states work is permitted.
The Representative of an overseas business visa route is for the sole representative of an overseas company planning to set up a UK branch or a wholly owned subsidiary for an overseas parent company or an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation posted on a long-term assignment to the UK.
As Home Office guidance makes clear that visa holders under this route can only work for their overseas employer it is unlikely that they would be able to undertake any activities within the collegiate University unless this was on behalf of their overseas employer. Departments/ faculties/ colleges should Contact the Staff Immigration Team (SIT) in advance to discuss before permitting a visa holder under this route to undertake any activities.
Family members of UK nationals or visa holders who have 'settled' in the UK (i.e. those who have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)) can apply under the Spouse/ partner visa route as a dependant partner or dependant child.
The only restrictions on employment for Spouse/ partner visa holders is that they cannot undertake work as a doctor or dentist in training, a professional sportsperson, or a sports coach.
Home Office guidance details the complex financial requirements when applying under the Spouse/ partner visa route.
The Start-up visa route, which replaces the previous Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa route, is a two year visa for applicants setting up a business in the UK. Home Office guidance states that Start-up, and Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, visa holders are permitted to undertake employment in addition to working for their business.
Guidance on the Start-up visa route and information on applying to the University of Oxford for endorsement is provided by the Careers Service.
The Innovator visa route replaces the previous Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa route, and neither of these routes permit employment as visa holders under these routes can only work for the their own business.
Tier 4 student visa holders on University courses are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week in term time, and full time out of term and when they have finished their studies.
Doctoral students who are close, but have not completed, can apply for a 12 month extension of their Tier 4 visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES).
University right to work guidance details the additional requirements when carrying out a right to work check before employing or engaging a Tier 4 or Tier 4 DES visa holder.
University guidance discusses the requirements for any proposed internships.
It may be possible for the University to sponsor those coming to participate in collaborative research as a 'research intern' as long as the normal Tier 5 requirements are met.
Other types of internship cannot be sponsored by the University but the Tier 5 Internship Scheme visa route may be appropriate.
An external commercial organisation (GTI Recruitment Solutions) provides sponsorship under the Tier 5 Internship Scheme visa route which is designed to allow graduates and undergraduates from countries outside Europe to gain experience working in the UK.
Eligible interns will require a Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by GTI Recruitment Solutions before applying for a Tier 5 Internship Scheme visa. Significant costs are involved, payable by the department/college, and a number of conditions are attached, but departments and colleges might find this option useful in some circumstances.
If departments/ colleges wish to use the Tier 5 Internship Scheme, they should contact GTI Recruitment Solutions directly for advice on eligibility and the application process.
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) is for young people from participating countries who would like to experience life in the UK.
The countries currently participating in the scheme are:
Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of (South) Korea, and Taiwan.
Under the Youth Mobility Scheme, the visa holder's national government is the sponsor. Therefore the University does not need to issue Tier 5 (YMS) applicants with a CoS.
Applicants are eligible if they:
Applicants must complete the visa application form on the Home Office website. A successful applicant will be free to do whatever work they like during their stay in the UK, except for working as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach) or working as a doctor in training.
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa holders can be self-employed and set up companies, subject to certain restrictions as detailed in the Home Office website.
Applications for the Youth Mobility Scheme are ineligible if the applicant is already in the UK, or if they have already spent time in the UK as a Working Holiday Maker or under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme. Visa holders coming to the UK under the Youth Mobility Scheme may stay and work for a maximum of 24 months. Visa holders will not be permitted to extend their stay in the UK beyond 24 months nor will they be allowed to switch into another category of the points-based system. Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa holders may, however, switch to a PBS dependant visa from inside the UK.
Turkish nationals who have lived and worked in the UK for one year can apply for a Turkish Worker visa which permits employment in the UK.
Those who apply under the Turkish Businessperson visa route, however, are not permitted to work. They can start a business, or take an active part in a business they have joined, in the UK but are not permitted to undertake work or activities for any other employer.
Citizens of Commonwealth countries countries who can prove that one of their grandparents were born in the UK, and are able and are planning to work in the UK, can apply for a UK Ancestry visa.
Initial applications for UK Ancestry visas can only be submitted from outside the UK, but extension applications and applications from dependant family members can be submitted in the UK.
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