Academic visitors

An Academic Visitor is a person from an overseas academic institution or who is highly qualified within their own field of expertise seeking leave to enter the UK to carry out research and associated activities for their own purposes.An Academic Visitor is a sub-category of Business Visitor.

Academic Visitors who are staying no longer than 12 months on a self-financed basis do not need a Certificate of Sponsorship/work permit. However, they will need a letter of invitation from the University to obtain entry clearance to show the Immigration authorities on arrival in the UK. This letter indicates that the person will not be taking up a position of work that could be undertaken by an EEA national.  The Visitor should take the letter of invitation to the British Embassy for any Visa or entry clearance requirements.  The letter of invitation and entry clearance should be brought through Immigration Control on arrival to the United Kingdom.

A person seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom as a Business Visitor (this includes Academic Visitors) must be able to prove that they -

  • only want to visit the UK for up to six months;
  • plan to leave the UK at the end of their visit;
  • have enough money to support and accommodate themselves without working, help from public funds or they will be supported and accommodated by relatives or friends;
  • do not intend to charge members of the public for services provided or goods received;
  • do not intend to study;
  • can meet the cost of the return or onward journey;
  • are based abroad and have no intention of transferring your base to the UK even temporarily;
  • receive their salary from abroad.

Proof must also be given that they plan to do one or more of the following permissible activities -

  • attending meetings, including interviews that have been arranged before coming to the UK, or conferences;
  • arranging deals or negotiating or signing trade agreements or contracts;
  • undertaking fact finding missions; 
  • conducting site visits;
  • delivering goods and passengers from abroad such as lorry drivers and coach drivers provided they are genuinely working an international  route;
  • tour group couriers who are contracted to a firm outside the UK, who are seeking entry to accompany a tour group and who intend to leave with that tour group;
  • speaking at a conference where this is not run as a commercial concern and the conference is a 'one-off';
  • representing computer software companies by coming to install, debug or enhance their products. Representatives of such companies may also be admitted as business visitors in order to be briefed as to the requirements of a UK customer but if they are to provide a service involving the use of their expertise to make a detailed assessment of a potential customer's requirements this should be regarded as consultancy work for which entry under the points-based system would be required;
  • representing foreign manufacturers by coming to service or repair their company's products within their initial period of guarantee; 
  • representing foreign machine manufacturers by coming to erect and install machinery too heavy to be delivered in one piece, as part of the contract of purchase and supply;
  • interpreting or translating 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.
  • monteurs - workers, for example fitters or servicepersons coming for up to six months to erect, dismantle, install, service, repair or advise on the development of foreign-made machinery; 
  • board-level directors attending board meetings in the UK provided they are not employed by a UK company, although they may be paid a fee for attending the meeting.

Full details on business visitors can be found on the UKBA Home Office website.