Immigration & Visa information



The University of Glasgow is an international employer, and we are committed to promoting diversity and equality of opportunity for all members of staff.

If you do not yet have eligibility to work in the UK, and you have subsequently received an offer of employment with the University, the offer will be subject to successful attainment of this requirement.

Applicants from Outside the EU

The UK immigration system has recently changed to a points-based system and there are some restrictions in relation to who we are able to employ from non-EU countries on various grounds (see the Home Office website's section on working in the UK for further details).

Applicants from outside the EU need to apply for eligibility to work in the UK through one of the allowed immigration routes. The majority of overseas workers coming to the University apply through the Tier 2 (Sponsored Skilled Worker) route, but there may also be other routes available to you, depending on your circumstances.

Applicants from New EU Member States
Some restrictions also apply to workers from new EU member states:
Bulgarian and Romanian nationals need to apply under the Work Permit Scheme.

Note: The Worker Registration Scheme closed on 30 April 2011. The scheme was for workers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia.

What is the Points Based System (PBIS)?

What is the Points Based System (PBIS)?

The points-based immigration system is the means of regulating immigration to the United Kingdom from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The scheme was phased in between 2008 and 2010. It is composed of five "tiers" which replaced all the previous work permits and entry schemes. The system is administered by the Home Office.

How the Points Based System will work
Migrants need to pass a points-based assessment before they are given permission to enter or remain in the United Kingdom. For those not currently in the UK, the application and assessment will be done in their home country.

Existing migrants in the UK will usually be able to convert to the new system whilst remaining in the UK. Eventually all staff on work permits & visas will convert to the new system, but only as the present permits begin to expire or their circumstances change

What are the tiers?

Tier 1 – Post Study Worker (Closed to new Applicants) and Exceptional Talent
Tier 2 - Skilled workers with a job offer
Unrestricted – In Country
Restricted – Out of Country
Tier 3 - currently suspended
Low skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages
Tier 4 – Student Visa
Tier 5 - Youth/Mobility/Temporary Workers & Sponsored Researchers

Successful Tier 1 & Tier 5 Youth Mobility staff do not need sponsorship from the University, obtain their own permits, can move from job to job without changing their permits, and are not subject to the reporting arrangements listed below. We will seek to maximise the use of this tier.

The role of the University

The role of the University

Migrants applying under Tier 2 and Tier 5 Sponsored researcher will need to be sponsored by the University. The University will issue the migrant with a sponsorship certificate (a virtual document with a unique reference number) which the migrant will then use to obtain entry clearance/leave to remain in the UK. For those not in the UK, they apply in their own country.

When issuing a certificate of sponsorship the University must ensure the job is a genuine vacancy and meets the resident labour market test. The Border & Immigration Agency will audit this, and will require proof that the job has been properly advertised and the Resident Labour Market test carried out. This includes advertising for a period of 28 days.

Certificates of sponsorship will only be issued to those who, to the best of the University's knowledge, meet the requirements of the tier or category they are applying under, and who are likely to meet the conditions of their permission to enter or stay in the United Kingdom.

Sponsorship rating
When the Home Office issues a licence, they can award an “A” rating or a “B” rating. The rating awarded reflects any track record the University has in employing migrants.

The university has currently been awarded an A rating for sponsorship for staff.

The Home Office is content that the University has no evidence of abuse, and has all the necessary systems in place to meet it's duties as a sponsor.

Certificate of Sponsorship

Certificate of Sponsorship

The University of Glasgow is licensed to issue Certificates of Sponsorship under Tiers 2, 4 and 5.

A certificate of sponsorship is not an actual certificate or paper document, but is a unique reference number, which holds information about the job and your personal details.

The University (as your sponsor) will give you your certificate of sponsorship reference number, together with some of the information they used to assign the certificate for you to use the point-based calculator and apply, for example, the wage of the job.

Having a certificate of sponsorship alone does not mean you will be successful in applying to come or stay in the UK. You must meet the requirements of the tier and category you are applying under as well

Sponsors assign certificates using the sponsorship management system, and you can only have one live certificate of sponsorship in the system at any one time. A live certificate of sponsorship is one that the sponsor has assigned to you, but that you have not used yet to apply.

If you have given your personal details to a prospective sponsor and that sponsor assigns a certificate of sponsorship to you, then no other sponsor can assign a certificate of sponsorship to you during the time the certificate gives you permission to come or stay. So it is very important that you only give your personal details to a sponsor you intend to work for.

Your certificate of sponsorship must:

  • have the same details as in your passport 
  • be assigned to you by your sponsor no more than three months before the date you apply 
  • has not been withdrawn by your sponsor or us.

The certificate of sponsorship will run out if it is not used by you to apply within three months of the sponsor assigning it to you. If you apply using a certificate of sponsorship that has run out, your application will be refused. You must get a new certificate of sponsorship from your sponsor.

Compliance with Points Based Immigration System

Compliance with Points Based Immigration System

The University will be fully responsible for the actions of any migrant it employs. This is a key new feature, and affects departments as well as HR. The University must ensure migrants comply with their immigration conditions, by keeping records on each migrant, and reporting any changes to the Border Agency.

The university must report the following information or events about sponsored migrants to the Home Office within the time limit given:

  • if they do not turn up for their first day at work this must be reported to the Home Office within 10 working days – could be HR who spot this first, or the PI
  • if they are absent from work for more than 10 working days, without reasonable granted permission, this must be reported to the Home Office within 10 working days of the tenth day of absence – so we need to be clear about agreement on holidays, attendance at conferences, field work etc. Prolonged sick leave will, in practice, need to be monitored. This has to be in departments: it also means a clear record of authorized field trips, conference attendance and sick absence recording
  • if their contract of employment ends (including when the resign or are dismissed), this must be reported within 10 working days – again departments are the first to know
  • if the University ceases to sponsor them for any other reason, for example, if they move into another immigration category
  • if there are any significant changes in their circumstances, for example, change of job or salary – again, a new feature which affects us – promotions, major new roles in the department
  • if the University suspects that they are breaching the conditions of their leave 
  • if the University suspects they are engaging in terrorism or any other criminal activity this must be reported immediately to the Police and Home Office – a difficult issue

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

This route opened in September 2011 and is for exceptionally talented individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts, who wish to work in the UK. There is an annual limit of 1,000 places on this route.

These individuals are those who are already internationally recognised at the highest level as world leaders in their particular field, or who have already demonstrated exceptional promise and are likely to become world leaders in their particular area.

The first step in the process is for the applicant to request a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Unique Reference Number from the Home Office. This request must state the appropriate Designated Competent Body to endorse the applicant.

The Designated Competent Bodies recognised by the Home Office for the purposes of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route are:

  • Arts Council England – for arts and culture applications 
  • The British Academy – for humanities and social science applications
  • The Royal Society - for natural sciences and medical science research applications
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering – for engineering applications

NOTE – Royal Society and Arts allocated higher number of endorsements

Tier 2 (General)

Tier 2 (General)

The Tier 2 (General) category is for foreign nationals who have a skilled job offer to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.

Before you apply under Tier 2 (General), you must have:

  • a sponsor; and 
  • a valid certificate of sponsorship. 
  • When you apply, you are awarded points based on your: 
  • salary and allowances; 
  • sponsorship; 
  • English language skills; and 
  • available maintenance (funds). 

UKBA: Points-based System -

Tier 4 - Student Visa

Tier 4 - Student Visa

  • Students at recognised bodies retain the right to work for 20 hours a week and to do work placements where the work: study ratio is 50:50.
  • Students at publicly funded FE colleges will continue to be able to work 10 hours a week.
  • Other students will have no right to work part-time and work placements will have to be 66:33 in favour of study: work.

Tier 5 – Youth Mobility

Tier 5 – Youth Mobility

The youth mobility scheme is for young people from participating countries who would like to come and experience life in the UK.

The countries in the scheme are:

  • Australia 
  • Canada 
  • Japan 
  • New Zealand 
  • Monaco

This scheme does not require sponsorship from the University and will give the individual 2 years permission to live and work in the UK.

Applicants must be aged between 18-31.

This is a personal application and is a non switchable category.

Tier 5 - Sponsored Researcher

Tier 5 - Sponsored Researcher

This scheme is for people coming to the UK through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice, and to experience the social and cultural life of the UK.

  • This category must not be used to fill job vacancies or to bring unskilled labour to the UK.
  • The University acts as the overarching body who manages the placement as Host only and not Employer.
  • This route allows the individual to remain in the UK for up to 2 years and is a non switchable category.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite Leave to Remain

After individuals have lived and worked legally (under Tier 2, Tier 1 or old work permit) in the UK for a period of 5 years they currently become eligible to apply for permission to settle here. This is known as 'indefinite leave to remain' .

  • Applications can be made within 28 days of the qualifying 5 year period
  • Staff should be encouraged to pay the premium rate to apply in person as postal applications can take up to 6 months
  • This is a personal application and does not require endorsement from the University
  • If including partner and dependants this can be an expensive process

Other types of VISAs

Other types of VISAs

UK ancestry - Who can apply?

You can apply to come to the UK in this category if you can show that:

  • you are a Commonwealth citizen; 
  • you are aged 17 or over; 
  • you are able to work and you plan to work in the UK; and 
  • you can adequately support and accommodate yourself and your dependants without help from public funds - the Rights and responsibilities section explains what public funds are.

You must also show that at least 1 of your grandparents was born:

in the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man); or
before 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland; or
on a British-registered ship or aircraft.

You can claim ancestry if your relationship to the relevant grandparent is in the legitimate or illegitimate line.

You cannot claim UK ancestry through step-parents, but you can apply if you or your parent (through whom you are claiming ancestry) are adopted.



Once I have my sponsorship number, how do I get my visa?

This depends on whether or not you are in the UK when you apply for your visa. If you are already in the UK, you should go to the Home Office web pages on working in the UK. There you will find an application form to apply for a Tier 2 visa.

You should complete this, using the sponsorship number that we have issued to you. Make sure that you include the appropriate fee.

If you are not in the UK at the time of application, you should go to the Home Office web pages on applying from outside the UK. You will also need to arrange to give your biometrics; usually these are taken at the visa application centre in your country/region.

What else do I need to know?

It is illegal for you to start work without a visa that gives you permission to work; therefore, it is extremely important to keep in touch with us and make us aware of any possible delays, change of circumstances or any factors which may affect the kind of visa that you may be planning to enter and work in the UK or delay it.

As an A rated sponsor, we are able to provide a guarantee letter for the maintenance element of the sponsorship. Please remember to ask for this from us if it would help your visa application.

What do I need to do when I start working at the University?

Once you are employed, as a sponsored migrant you have a responsibility to ensure that you keep the University informed of your contact details and of any changes to your personal circumstances which may affect your visa.

Who can I contact if I need advice on immigration matters?

The main source of information on immigration requirements are the Home Office web pages. You should contact the Recruitment Team within HR at the University if you have a query regarding a post that you have been offered at the University. Unfortunately, we are not immigration specialists/advisors and can only help with our own sponsored migrants.

What are Biometrics?

Biometrics are the unique physical characteristics that can be used to identify you, such as facial images and fingerprints. You will need to have your 10 digit finger scans recorded, and provide a digital photograph, when applying for a visa to come or stay in the United Kingdom. There are a few exceptions, such as heads of state.

Where can I find information about Tier 2 dependant applications?

See the Home Office web site's section on applications by dependants.

Can I switch into Tier 2 from the Post-Study Worker (Tier 1) category?

Yes, you can switch into Tier 2 from the Post-Study Worker category. You can claim 30 points if you are switching from:

  • The post-study worker category of tier 1; OR
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme; OR
  • International Graduate Scheme (formerly known as the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme).

Further information is available at:

What are the sponsor’s responsibilities during my employment?

Reporting any unauthorised absence : unauthorised absence does not include authorised annual leave, sickness absence which has been appropriately reported through the University’s sick absence reporting procedure, or any other leave (such as compassionate, parental, maternity, study etc) authorised under a University process. You should ensure that you are aware of the process for reporting all forms of leave, including annual leave. Therefore, it is very important that you comply with the appropriate leave procedures, as we may have to report your unauthorised absence to the UK Border & Immigration Agency.

Annual check of eligibility to work in the UK: The University is required to formally check your eligibility on an annual basis. You will be contacted by HR should we need any further information.

Please contact your HR team if you would like advice/information on which categories under Points Based Immigration System that you may be eligible for.

Human Resources

Recruitment Team
University of Glasgow
Main Building
G12 8QQ

Telephone: +44 (0) 141 3302990