Skilled Worker Overview

The Skilled Worker visa route enables non UK/ Irish nationals to undertake a particular skilled role for the University and colleges.
The visa allows the individual along with their family members (partner and children under 18) to live and work in the UK. The route can lead to settlement after 5 years which enables them to stay permanently in the UK. 
A Skilled Worker visa is granted by the Home Office when the
  • appointment meets the sponsorship requirements
  • department, faculty or college submit a request for sponsorship to the Staff Immigration Team
  • an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate has been issued (for research at PhD level or above in certain sensitive subjects, for certain nationalities)
  • Staff Immigration Team provides sponsorship via the University's A-Rated Premium License
  • visa application is submitted by the individual which meets the Home Office eligibility requirements
Sponsorship is provided in line with the duration of the appointment. The University can provide initial sponsorship for up to 5 years. There is no limit to the time that can be spent sponsored under the Skilled Worker visa, but individuals may be eligible to apply to stay permanently after 5 years residence in the UK.  

Further details on the sponsorship process are provided below.

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An assessment of an individual's Right to Work status should be undertaken. An applicant may require sponsorship under the Skilled Worker visa if they do not have a UK visa or their current UK visa does not permit them to undertake the role being offered. 

Certain visas carry restrictions on what work the holder can do and/or the hours they are permitted to work. The visa usually clearly states any restrictions, but please contact the Staff Immigration Team if you are unsure.

Skilled Worker visa holder

  • Individual already employed by the University or a college: Please send a copy of the new job description to the Staff Immigration Adviser who will consider the new role against the individual's current appointment. If this falls within the same occupation it is likely this will just need to be reported to the Home Office. If significantly different, new Skilled Worker sponsorship will be required with the new visa granted before they can commence the role.
  • Individual employed by an external organisation: A new Skilled Worker visa will be required with sponsorship from the University.

Student (Tier 4) visa holder

International students who have been sponsored under a student visa to study in the UK can switch into the Skilled Worker route to undertake their first full time role. Please refer to the Additional requirement for Student (Tier 4) visa holders 

Graduate Route

Students who have successfully completed their UK course of study can apply for a Graduate route visa. This visa allows the individual to work full time for 2 years, or 3 years if they completed a PhD/DPhil qualification. 

If the appointment is shorter than 2/3 years, the Graduate route may be better than the Skilled Worker route. The Student Immigration Team provides further guidance for Oxford students.

For sponsorship to be provided the appointment will need to meet the Requirements for sponsorship which sets a minimum skills and salary threshold and that the appointment is a genuine vacancy.

The Request a CoS & Prepare a visa application page provides further details on requesting sponsorship from the Staff Immigration Team and the visa requirements to be met, which can include English language, tuberculosis screening, maintenance, ATAS clearance and criminal record checks.

The employing department, faculty or college should download and complete the CoS form, submitting this to the Staff Immigration Adviser with the required supporting documents password protected with 7-Zip.


Prospective employee applying from overseas or within the UK



A current University of Oxford employee extending their Skilled Worker (or Tier 2) visa



Global Talent visa

Please consider the Global Talent visa for

  • senior academic and research appointments
  • research or specialist technical roles externally funded
  • individuals awarded an individual fellowship 

Certificate of Sponsorship

Once the Staff Immigration Team are satisfied the requirements have been met they issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the individual.

This is an electronic document which lists the individual's personal details and information about the role. The CoS contains a unique reference number which must be included in the Skilled Worker visa application.

Sponsorship is normally provided in line with the contract of employment period, up to an initial maximum period of 5 year sponsorship. There are different visa costs for an 'up to 3 year' visa, and an 'up to 5 year' visa which are detailed on the costs page.

Reporting changes to SIT

As soon as sponsorship is issued the Home Office expects changes to an individual's appointment to be reported to them. These reporting duties commence as soon as the CoS is issued, and last until we cease sponsoring the individual.

It is important departments, faculties and colleges review the details on the During Sponsorship page relating to changes in a Skilled Worker role and absences from work, so they understand what information needs to be reported to the Staff Immigration Team.

The sponsored individual must submit a visa application within 3 months of the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) being issued, otherwise the CoS automatically expires. They do not have to receive the Skilled Worker visa during this 3 months.

Please refer to the Visa Application section for more information on the process of applying within the UK and overseas.

Applying within the UK

An individual can apply for a Skilled Worker visa from within the UK as long as they do not currently hold a

  • Visitor visa
  • Short-term Student visa
  • Parent of a Child Student visa
  • Seasonal Worker visa
  • Domestic Worker visa
  • visa for reasons Outside of the Immigration Rules

Issuing the Certificate of Sponsorship

The earliest the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) can be issued is 3 months before the individual's

  • employment start date
  • current Skilled Worker visa expires

The CoS will be issued as soon as the Immigration Adviser is happy the Home Office requirements can be met. It is provided electronically to the applicant, enabling them to receive the information they require to apply for the Skilled Worker visa quickly.

We recommend the request for a CoS is submitted as soon as possible, ideally 3-4 months prior to their start date, or visa expiry date, to ensure enough time is provided for the CoS to be issued, and visa application process.

Applications that also require the applicant to have an ATAS certificate issued by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office may take longer as the CoS cannot be issued until the ATAS certificate is received. Further details can be found on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) page.

Visa application processing timescales

Once the full visa application, including online application, payment of fee, and registering biometric details, has been completed processing times are normally

  • 3 weeks when applying outside the UK
  • 8 weeks within the UK

Priority services, at additional cost, are available. For overseas applications information on priority services will be detailed by visa application centre. In the UK this is either a super priority (next working day decision) or priority service (5 working days).

Once a decision is made, it can take another 1-2 weeks for the

  • passport containing the entry vignette to be returned to the applicant overseas
  • the new biometric residence permit (BRP) to be posted to the individual's UK address

Delayed Start date

A realistic start date should be set taking into account the individual's circumstances, and the visa application processing times.

Any proposed change in start date once the CoS has been provided should be discussed immediately with the Staff Immigration Adviser, if possible amendments can be made to the CoS before the applicant submits their visa application.

Late arrivals once the visa has been granted, cannot be delayed by more than 4 weeks otherwise the visa will be cancelled. Further details can be found on the Change in Start Date section.

Travelling to the UK as a Visitor

Once the visa application has been submitted, or after the Skilled Worker visa has been granted, an individual must not travel to the UK earlier than the issue date printed on their vignette or stated on their electronic immigration status. If they do their Skilled Worker visa will no longer be valid and they will not be able to start their employment.


Contact us

Medical Sciences / Humanities / GLAM / UAS / Continuing Education

Angelina Pelova, Email: 

Paul Deeble, Email:


MPLS / Social Sciences / Colleges

Lyn Davis, Email:

Richard Birt, Email:




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