Types of Standard Visitor visas

The activities which a visitor can carry out in the UK depend on the type of Visitor visa they hold and the sub-category they fall under, which in turn depends on what they stated was the main purpose of their visit in their visa application or application for ‘leave to enter’.

The Permitted Activities under the Visitor routes which are relevant to visitors to the University and the Restrictions for Visitors are laid out below and should be considered when determining the main purpose of, and additional proposed activities during, a visit. 

 

The main purpose and additional activities should be discussed and agreed with the proposed visitor before an invitation letter is issued. If you are unsure advice should always be sought from the Staff Immigration Team. Find our details on the Contact us page.

 

Standard Visitor visa

The main purpose of a visit to the University under a Standard Visitor visa must always be made clear and would normally fall under the Business or Academic Visitor sub-categories:

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Academic Visitors are a sub-group of the Standard Visitor category. To qualify as an Academic Visitor, the applicant must be able to produce evidence that they are highly qualified in their own field of expertise and are currently working in that field at an academic or higher education institution overseas.

Recent graduates, people on sabbatical leave from private research companies, named researchers on grants, those being paid to give a/ series of lecture(s) and sponsored researchers do not qualify as Academic Visitors and should find an alternative immigration route.

 

Who can come to the University as an Academic Visitor?

Only those employed by academic or higher education institutions overseas in teaching or research roles are eligible to apply to come to the UK under the Academic Visitor sub-category of the Standard Visitor visa route. Research staff should therefore be eligible under this route but research students would not.

Visitors would fall under the Academic Visitor sub-category of the Standard Visitor visa route if they are:

  • carry out private research whilst being on leave from their overseas academic institution (e.g. research for a book, for example);

  • share knowledge or experience or to hold informal discussions with UK counterparts (but not conducting research on University hosted projects);

  • take part in a conference or seminar that is not a commercial or non-profit venture;

  • where the visitor is an eminent senior doctors or dentists, (i.e. those considered to be top of their field of expertise) coming to take part in research, teaching or clinical practice.

  • take part in arranged exchanges e.g. where the University of Oxford is involved in a formal exchange with an overseas university where researchers and other personnel are spending time at each other's institution for some or all of the duration of a project.
    Any salary should continue to be paid by the academic's own overseas institution;

     

Please note that Academics coming to the University to collaborate with University staff on University-hosted research projects are likely to be classed as sponsored researchers, could not apply as an Academic Visitor, and would require need to apply for a Tier 5 visa instead.

Please also note that applicants under the Academic Visitor route must be employed by an academic institution outside the UK. Applicants who are retired are not eligible under either the Academic or Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) route.

 

How long can an Academic Visitor and their dependants spend in the UK?

While a Standard Visitor visa is issued for a maximum of 6 months an Academic Visitor can apply for a visa for up to 12 months.

Dependant spouse/partners and children of Academic Visitors can obtain Standard Visitor visas to accompany them in the UK for up to 6 or 12 months in line with the Academic Visitor’s visa.

Where dependent children of Academic Visitors are coming to the UK for 12 months the restriction that they must not intend to study at a state-funded school does not apply.

 

What can an Academic Visitor (up to 12 month visa) do while in the UK?

An Academic Visitor can undertake other activities under their Standard Visitor visa in addition to the activities which form the main purpose of their visit. See Visitors - Permitted Activities & Restrictions.

 

 

The Business visitor visa allows individuals to come and undertake a range of activities for a period of up to 6 months. These activities are not necessarily business related, and might be the most suitable visa options for visitors coming to the University for academic related reasons.

 

The permitted activities under this visa route are as follows:
 

  • attending meetings, including interviews that have been arranged before coming to the United Kingdom, or conferences;
  • arrange deals or negotiate or sign trade agreements or contracts and carrying out fact finding missions;

  • conducting site visits and inspections;

  • giving a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and are not making profit for the organiser;

  • employees of foreign manufacturers or suppliers installing, dismantling, repairing, servicing, or advising on equipment, computer software or hardware where there is a contract of purchase, supply, or lease;

  • employees of overseas companies or organisations receiving training in specific work practices or techniques which are required for their employment overseas and this training is not available in their home country (this could be receiving training in a research or analysis technique as long as they were not carrying out research during the visit)

  • those acting as interpreter or translator for visiting business persons, provided the interpreter/translator is employed by the overseas company and is coming solely to provide this service for the visiting company member;

  • board-level Directors attending board meetings in the UK provided they are not employed by a UK company, although they may receive a fee for attending the meeting.    

The Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) Visitor route is for individuals invited to come to the UK because of their particular skills or expertise. These individuals can come to the UK for up to one month to undertake pre-arranged engagements for which they must be paid; however, there is no specified level of payment that must be made.

 

PPE Visitors do not require a Certificate of Sponsorship from the University, but will require a formal letter of invitation from the University to be able to enter the UK under this route, whether they are applying for a visa in advance of travelling to the UK or for ‘leave to enter’ at their UK port of entry. Visitors will also be required to satisfy Immigration Officers that the pre-arranged engagement relates to their area of expertise and/or qualifications and to their occupation overseas.

 

Who can come to the University as a PPE Visitor?

Only the following groups of individuals are able to come to the University under the Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) Visitor route to undertake one or more of the following paid activities:

  • Visiting lecturers – lecturers invited to give one or a short series of paid lectures in their field of expertise, as long as this is not a part-time or full-time role*;

  • Visiting examiners or assessors – academics who are highly qualified in their field of expertise to examine students or participate in and/or chair a selection panel as part of the institution’s quality assurance processes;

 

* PLEASE NOTE: Home Office guidance makes clear that someone coming on a PPE Visitor visa must not be replacing the formal role of the course teacher, hence, they can deliver lectures as a 'guest slot' within a course of study but cannot be responsible for the design, delivery, marking, or review of a course etc.

 

The paid engagement must relate to the individual’s area of expertise and/or qualifications and must relate to their main occupation overseas.

 

Please note that applicants under the Academic Visitor route must be employed by an academic institution outside the UK. Applicants who are retired are not eligible under either the Academic or Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) route. 

 

What can a PPE Visitor do while in the UK?

A PPE Visitor can undertake other activities under their PPE Visitor visa in addition to the activities above which would form the main purpose of their visit. Please see visitor visa conditions page for more information.

What is the PPE Visitor visa application process?

The process of obtaining permission to enter the UK as a PPE Visitor is the same as that for other Visitor visa routes and depends on whether the applicant is classed as a ‘visa national’ or ‘non-visa national’. Please see the Visa application and supporting documents for more information.

 

What Supporting documentation is required?

Those applying for a PPE Visitor visa must submit the following documents in support of their visa application if applying if advance of travelling to the UK, or to the Immigration Office at their UK port of entry if applying for ‘leave to enter’:

  • current passport or other valid travel identification

  • 1 passport-sized colour photograph (only required if applying for a visa in advance)

  • an invitation letter from the host department/ college within the university

  • proof that the paid engagement relates to their expertise, qualifications and main job in their home country, for example a letter from their employer

  • proof that they can support themselves during their trip

  • details of where they intend to stay and their travel plans
     

Guidance on requirements for supporting documents when applying for a Visitor visa can found in the Home Office Guide

Tourism & Leisure

  • visiting friends and family and undertaking tourist activities while in the UK

 

 

Volunteering

  • undertaking ‘incidental volunteering’ provided that it: 

    • lasts no longer than 30 days in total;

    • is not the main purpose of their visit; and

    • is for a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, or the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

Please note that unpaid work is not considered to be voluntary work and we would not envisage these activities to be relevant within the University. Advice should be sought from the Staff Immigration Team before discussing Visitors volunteering.

 

 

Religious activities

  • Religious workers preaching or undertaking pastoral work, however, if this is the main purpose of their visit this should be made clear when applying for their Visitor visa

 

 

Entertainment

  • amateur or professional artists, entertainers or musicians giving performances as an individual or as part of a group, however, if this is the main purpose of the visit they would need to apply under the Entertainment Visitor sub-category of the Standard Visitor visa route where additional information must be submitted when applying. See Home Office Guide to supporting documents.

 

 

Sports

  • Sports persons taking part in a sports tournament or sports event as an individual or part of a team, however, if this is the main purpose of the visit they would need to apply under the Sports Visitor sub-category of the Standard Visitor visa route where additional information must be submitted when applying. See Home Office Guide to supporting documents. Sports Visitors would most likely have to be hosted by a relevant sporting organisation rather than the University. Those being employed as a professional sports person by a team based in the UK would require a work visa such as a Tier 2 of Tier 5 visa and could not come as a visitor.

Short term student visa 

If a visitor is coming to study at the University of Oxford for a period of six months or less on a full or part-time course they may be eligible to apply for a Short-Term Student visa. To find out more, please contact UAS Student Immigration

 

Recognised student visa  

The Recognised student visa allows graduate research student, who is registered with another university, to come to the UK when being admitted to undertake research at a UK university for a minimum of one and maximum of three terms. 

To find out more about this visa, please contact UAS Student Immigration 

 

 

 

 

Contact us


Medical Sciences

Angelina Pelova Tel: 01865 289904 Email: angelina.pelova@admin.ox.ac.uk 

 

MPLS

Nina Song Tel: 01865 289926 Email: nina.song@admin.ox.ac.uk

 

Humanities / Social Sciences / GLAM / UAS / Continuing Education / Colleges

James Galloway Tel: 01865 289927 Email: james.galloway@admin.ox.ac.uk

 

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