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Academic Visitors


The Standard Visitor Visa has now replaced the Business Visitor Visa, which included visas for academics, doctors and dentists.


Academic visitors can stay in the UK for up to 12 months.  They must prove they are highly qualified within their field of expertise, on sabbatical leave from their home institution and visiting to either: 

In addition they can't

Recent graduates, people on sabbatical leave from private research companies, named researchers on grants, those being paid to give a series of lectures and sponsored researchers do not qualify as Academic visitors.  Please contact your HR Officer if you have any visa queries relating to these cases.


Further Information

To enter the UK as an Academic Visitor under the Standard Visitor visa route for up to 6 months is the same as that for other Visitor visa routes and depends whether the applicant is classed as a ‘visa national’ or non-visa national’.

Appendix 2 from the UKVI Guidance : Visa National list lists the countries whose nationals are considered to be visa nationals.

If the applicant wishes to come to the UK as an Academic Visitor for up to 12 months both visa nationals and non-visa nationals are required to apply for a visa in advance of travelling to the UK as visa nationals are always required to. 

Non-visa Nationals do not require a Visitor visa in advance of travel to the UK if they are coming for less than six months.  They must provide a letter of invitation from the University to evidence the purpose of their visit when they enter the UK.  If they satisfy the relevant requirements, they will receive ‘leave to enter’ the UK as a visitor.

Visa Nationals must always apply for a visa before travelling to the UK.  The UKVI website gives guidance on how to apply for:

A Standard Visitor Visa

A Permitted Paid Engagement Visa; or

You might be able to get a visit visa for up to 30 days if you’re a visitor under the Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement.


How to Apply

If the individual you have in mind meets with the above criteria, then a letter of invite is sent from the Discipline to the individual who is coming to the UK, detailing the following points:

Academic Visitor Letter Template

To enable the Academic Visitor to receive a living allowance you should write to Finance and advise them of the details including amount of payment, length of stay, weekly or monthly payment and bank account details.

Payment of reasonable expenses to cover the cost of travel and subsistence are permitted, but Visitors are not permitted to receive any pay from the University. 

When the academic visitor applies to UKVI they will need to provide:

It should be noted that the NHS Surcharge does not apply when applying for a Visitor visa, however, any NHS treatment will be charged at the rate of 150% of the cost of treatment.  It is therefore strongly recommended that the Visitor has adequate insurance. 

They will also need a page in their passport that is blank on both sides for their visa.

The academic visitor will need to make their application online, apply on line at the UKVI website.

They will be required to have their fingerprints and photograph (known as Biometric information) taken at a visa application centre as part of the application. 

The academic visitor will be told where to send their documents when they make their application, and any original documents they submit will be returned.

How long will it take?

Academic Visitors can apply for a visa up to 3 months before their date of travel to the UK.

They should get a decision on their visa within 3 weeks.

Academic Visitor’s can check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the Country it’s being applied for from.


If you have any queries regarding the most appropriate visa route, please contact your HR Officer in the first instance.  If there are any questions or queries regarding the visa before travelling to the UK, it is advised that the visitor contacts their nearest Visa Application Centre to avoid any problems on arrival in the UK.  Further information is also available on the UKVI website