Requesting Tier 5 CoS and preparing visa application

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In order to sponsor a Tier 5 visa holder, the University must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). This is an electronic document which lists the sponsored individual's personal details, information about the role, and the advertisement process. The CoS also includes a reference number which must be included in the visa application. 

The employing college or department should download and complete the CoS form depending on whether the visiting researcher is applying from outside or from within the UK. The relevant CoS form and supporting documents should be secured with 7-zip and emailed to their contact person within SIT. The immigration adviser will review the application, check that the researcher is receiving enough funding and that they are undertaking supernumerary research. Once the adviser is satisfied that the necessary criteria have been met, the CoS will be issued to the visiting researcher. 


Prospective visiting researcher applying from overseas or within the UK




Current sponsored Tier 5 visa holder extending their visit to continue work on their research project



The main purpose of the visit will be for the visitor to undertake their own research project which is supernumerary, but can be in collaboration with the host department or college at the University of Oxford. Before the CoS can be issued, the Immigration Adviser must be satisfied that the visitor is not coming to work on part of already on-going research, and that they are not filling an advertised position at the University. 


To provide an overview of the research project they will be working on, every visitor will need to provide a project plan (1-2 pages long) to their host department or college. This document must be included in the CoS application sent to SIT. 


The plan should also include a bulleted list of the research activities they will be undertaking. These activities will be entered on the CoS to show the Home Office exactly what the sponsored researcher will be doing. 

Please note that sponsorship cannot be issued where a researcher is working on and supporting a University-hosted project. The Tier 5 visa route may not be used to sponsor individuals who will be filling a vacancy in the UK or filling a department or college's normal staffing requirement. 

An individual cannot be self-funded or rely on savings. They must instead receive funding from their employer overseas, or by an external funding body, to cover their living costs in the UK for the whole duration of the visit.

The visa holder must receive funding which exceeds the hourly minimum wage in the UK.

As part of the CoS application a letter from the employer or funding body will need to provided on the organisations headed paper, signed and dated. This must confirm the duration of the visit, and the amount of funding to be provided. 

Individuals undertaking an element of research at PhD in certain sensitive subjects must obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).


The following nationalities are exempt from the ATAS requirement:

  • UK, EU/EEA and Swiss nationals
  • Nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, or the United States of America.

Dual nationals who hold one of the listed nationalities above will also be exempt. This is not based on country of residence, but nationality only.


The ATAS requirement applies to both initial and extension Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa applications.


The Staff Immigration Team (SIT) will work with Department, Faculty and College colleagues to identify if the individual will need to obtain an ATAS certificate. If this is required the template letter and guidance must be followed. 

In most cases, where ATAS is applicable the Staff Immigration Team will only be able to issue the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) once the individual has applied for and been issued the ATAS certificate. This means applications must be submitted in good time.

The ATAS certificate reference number will be listed on the CoS and the individual must include a copy of the ATAS certificate in the visa application.

Full details can be found on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) page.

The default position is the hosting department, faculty or college certifies this requirement for the first month of engagement.

Otherwise the applicant has to evidence personal savings held for a 28 day period of

  • £1,270 for the main applicant
  • £285 for a dependant partner
  • £315 for the first dependant child
  • £200 for any other dependant child


Permission to Stay applications

Applicants who have been in the UK for 12 months of longer, and are applying to extend or switch their visa do not need to meet the maintenance requirements.

Please refer to the TB screening test webpages for more information.

SIT will issue a Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the visa applicant and send this by email together with information on the visa application process. The Certificate of Sponsorship will contain information about the sponsored individual, the research project they will be undertaking, the amount of funding (stated in GBP) they are receiving, and whether their hosting department or college is certifying the sponsored individual's maintenance. The CoS also contains a CoS reference number which must be included in the visa application. 


A CoS can be issued for a period up to 2 years. This is the maximum amount of time that can be spent on a Tier 5 visa in the UK.  Tier 5 visa holders who have already been issued with a 2 year visa would need to leave the UK and reapply for a new Tier 5 visa from overseas. 


The Tier 5 visa application page provides further details on the visa requirements to be met, which can include tuberculosis screening and maintenance funds. 

Tier 5 visa holders can also bring dependants. See the dependant visa pages for more information on how to submit a visa application for family members. 


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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