Visiting staff

Keele University welcomes visitors to undertake a variety of academic related activities on a temporary basis. For international visitors it is essential that the appropriate visa or entry clearance is obtained in advance of arrival at Keele University. In order to identify if the visit can be supported and to determine the appropriate visa for the required visit, please refer to the summary table Visitor Category Summary .

Non-visa nationals do not require a visitor visa in advance of travel to the UK if they are coming for less than 6 months. They must, however, announce and evidence the purpose of their visit, by providing their letter of invitation from the University and any other required documents, to Immigration Officers at their UK port of entry and satisfy them that they meet the relevant requirements. They will then have their passport stamped under the appropriate visitor category granting ‘leave to enter’ the UK as a visitor. Visa nationals are required to apply for a visa in advance of a visit. A non-visa national who is coming to the UK for longer than six months (maximum period of 12 months) must apply for a visa in advance of travelling to the UK using the same process as visa nationals. Appendix 2 of the Immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules detail the countries whose nationals are considered to be ‘visa nationals’. 

Visitors cannot work or study in the UK unless this is allowed by the permitted activities that are set out in the visitor rules. A summary of the rules is provided below, however for the full list of rules please visit Immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules.

If the activity or reason for the visit is not covered in this guidance, please contact your link HR team for further advice.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

From 21 May 2021, visiting academic researchers who are carrying our or taking part in research at postgraduate level or above in certain sensitive subjects must hold an ATAS certificate before they begin any such research.

Although this certificate is only needed before research begins, it is strongly advised that the visitor obtains this before traveling to the UK.

More information on applying can be found at

A right to work check must be conducted for any visitor invited by the University and before their period of engagement commences.  Schools and Departments should retain a copy of the right to work check. Further information on right to work checks and list of acceptable documentation can be found in the Right to Work Checklist .

Please click on each of the below visitor visa titles for further information.

Visitors must be a genuine visitor and must:

  • leave the UK at the end of their visit;
  • not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home;
  • be genuinely seeking entry for a purpose that is permitted by the visitor routes;
  • not intend to take employment or file a temporary or permanent position;
  • not receive payment from any UK sources (except for reasonable expenses and subsistence payments) unless PPE or Tier 5 visa;
  • not undertake any prohibited activities;
  • have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit without working or accessing public funds. This includes the cost of return or onward journey, any costs relating to dependants, and the cost of planned activities such as private medical treatment.

In addition, for permitted paid engagements the visitor must intend to do one (or more) of the permitted paid engagements set out in the rules which must:

  • be arranged before the visitor travels to the UK; and
  • be declared as part of the application for a visit visa or leave to enter; and
  • be evidenced by a formal invitation; and
  • relate to the visitors area of expertise and occupation overseas.

When determining who to invite, individual faculties and departments may adopt their own practices on visitors which best meet their local needs. Where individuals being invited are not known through their academic institute, caution is advisable. For example, it is best practice to ensure that the academic institution of the proposed visitor exists and that the proposed visitor is a member of staff at that institution.

Before formally inviting a visitor to the University, please complete the Visitor Request (Academic, Business & Researchers) form, ensuring that the correct visa route has been identified. Once approval has been granted the Senior School Manager or Departmental Manager may issue the visitor with a formal letter of invitation outlining the following points:

  • the name of the Department and University staff member ‘hosting’ the individual;
  • the nature of the visit;
  • the duration of the visit;
  • the nature of any fee or expenses.

The formal letter of invitation must be sent in advance of travel, as applicants will be required to present it with their visa application (for visa nationals) or to Immigration Officers at their UK port of entry (for non-visa nationals).

The HR department has produced a template visitor invitation letter. This letter should always be provided to visitors to the University to ensure they hold the correct visa. The consequences for the individual and potentially the University of not travelling on the correct visa can be serious.

The UK tax regulations state that a UK organisation hosting overseas visitors who undertake work while they are in the UK have a potential UK PAYE obligation, even if those overseas visitors are not paid by Keele University and continue to be remunerated by their overseas employer. It is therefore important that Stuart Smith, Tax Manager, is notified of any visitors to Keele. A copy of the completed Visitor Approval Form must be sent to Stuart at

An application for a visit visa must be made whilst the applicant is outside the UK.

Standard Visa and Permitted Paid Engagements

The earliest an application can be made is 3 months before travel. Applicants should get a decision on their visa within 3 weeks.

The applicant must:

  • complete an online application process on the visas and immigration pages of the website; and
  • pay any fee that applies; and
  • provide their biometrics if required; and
  • provide a valid travel document.

Tier 5

The University will apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from UKVI. This may take up to approximately 5 weeks. Upon receipt of a successful application, the worker will be notified of their CoS number and they may then apply for entry clearance.

Visa Extension

Visitors for permitted paid engagements may not apply for an extension of stay as a visitor.

visitor (standard) who was granted a visit visa or leave to enter for less than 6 months may apply for an extension of stay as a visitor so that the total period they can remain in the UK (including both the original grant and extension of stay) does not exceed 6 months.

visitor (standard) who is an academic on sabbatical leave and is in the UK undertaking their own research, or the spouse, partner or child accompanying such an academic, may be granted an extension of stay as a visitor so that the total period they can remain in the UK (including both the original grant and extension of stay) does not exceed 12 months.

Tier 5 visa which was granted for less than 24 months may be granted an extension of stay so that the total period they can remain in the UK (including both the original grant and extension of stay) does not exceed 24 months.

Visitors must not intend to work in the UK, which includes those listed below, unless expressly allowed by the permitted activities. Full details of the permitted activities can be found in Appendixes 3 and 4 of the Immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules.

  • Undertake any form of employment in the UK (except for permissible activities);
  • Do work for an organisation or business in the UK
  • Establish or run a business as a self-employed person
  • Do a work placement or internship
  • Direct selling to the public
  • Provide goods and services
  • Not receive payment from the University for any activities undertaken in the UK (exclusions apply to PPE). Reasonable expenses to cover the cost of travel and subsistence may by paid.

In no circumstances must a visitor take employment, or do work which amounts to them filing a role or providing short term cover for a role within the University.