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Visitor FAQs

Who is the guidance for?

Primarily, the guidance was introduced to satisfy the Home Office requirements in relation to non-EEA visitors i.e. those requiring permission, or a visa, to enter the UK.

Non-EEA nationals are subject to immigration control, meaning restrictions apply in terms of the activities they can undertake as visitors. A visitor needs to obtain permission to enter the UK in the form of either a visit visa (obtained prior to entry to the UK), or be granted leave to enter on arrival in the UK by having their passport stamped under the correct visitor category.

EEA and Swiss nationals do not currently require immigration permission in order to undertake activities in the UK as a visitor.

Who is deemed to be a visitor?

A UK, EEA or non-EEA national engaged in any of the activities detailed in the Visitor Policy.

What activities are permitted?

Non-EEA nationals are subject to immigration control, meaning restrictions apply in terms of the activities they can undertake as visitors - these are detailed in the Visitor Policy.

The activities which a visitor can carry out in the UK will depend on the type of visitor visa they hold and the category they fall under, depending on what they state is the main purpose of their visit.

UK or EEA Nationals do not have restrictions in terms of the activities they undertake but care must be taken to ensure that the activities being undertaken do not amount to a genuine vacancy. The visit should still be authorised by the Head of School and the visitor invited, in writing, detailing the purpose of their visit.

What is a Genuine Vacancy?

Activity that would normally be undertaken by an employee and where an individual should be remunerated for undertaking that activity.

What can a visitor not do?

Undertake any form of employment in the UK (except for the permissible activities listed in the table above).

Fill a normal post or a genuine vacancy at the University, even on a temporary basis.

Receive funding for their work or activities in the UK from any UK source (payments of expenses, including travel and subsistence may be disregarded, but should be reasonable and justifiable). Travel, maintenance and accommodation may be provided by a third party. *PPE and Tier 5 visitors excluded*

Stay in the UK for more than 6 months (or 12 months for visiting academic visitor activities, provided a visa has been obtained in advance in relation to such activities).

Switch to any other immigration category whilst inside the UK. This means, for example, that the person cannot enter the UK as a visitor and then apply in the UK for a leave to remain in the Tier 2 (General) category.

Have recourse to public funds.

What's the difference with a PPE visitor?

The restrictions relating to PPE visitors are essentially the same as for the visitor (standard) category, except that PPE visitors can be paid for the activities they undertake and are limited to one month's stay in the UK.

How do you qualify for entry as a PPE?

In order to qualify for entry under the PPE route the individual must be able to show that they have a formal invitation from the University to carry out the engagement (i.e. a formal invitation letter), and that the specific activity relates to their area of expertise and/or qualifications, and full-time occupation overseas. This means that academics who are retired will not qualify.

Do all visitors require a Visitor Request Form?

Yes. It is advisable that the Visitor Request Form is completed so that Head of School/Function is aware and approves of the visit. It also ensures that other appropriate policies are signposted and adhered to e.g. Health and Safety.

However, if your School/Function has a different mechanism for capturing this data, for UK or EEA nationals, it is permissible to use this instead.

It is advisable to use the Visitor Request Form for non-EEA nationals as it captures the data required for the letter of invitation.

Do HR need to see and/or authorise the Visitor Request Form and letter?

No, this is a local arrangement. The only exception is for PPE and Tier 5 visitors

Do all visitors require a letter of invitation?

The University requires a visitor to be issued with a formal invite in relation to their visit in most circumstances.

For non-EEA nationals, the template letter provided includes the information the Home Office will require to permit entry to the UK.

UK and EEA nationals should be invited in writing, but there is no specific template - Schools/Functions can adapt their own and this can be in email format. It is advisable to include the purpose and duration of the visit and who the visitor should report to.

What happens if the appropriate letter is not set?

Individuals seeking to enter the UK as non-visa nationals will need to be able to satisfy Immigration Officers at the border that they are genuinely entering the UK as visitors. Having the appropriate documentation from the University minimises the risk of being refused entry.

What documentation should I check?

All visitors to the University should present their passport or visa / immigration stamp (as contained in their passport) to the host department.

What is the purpose of doing the documentation check?

You are checking that the person is who they say they are and, if visa restrictions apply, that they have the correct type of visa to allow them to do the activity they are here to undertake. This is detailed in the permissible activity section of the Visitor Policy. If you are unsure, please check this with your HR Coordinator.

When should I check documentation?

Documentation should be checked before any activity is undertaken. It is advisable to ask for copies of documentation ahead of the visit, so that potential issues can be resolved. However, this will not satisfy the necessary Home Office checks, so originals should still be requested.

How long do I need to keep this documentation?

A copy should be taken and retained by the host department for the duration of the visit. For individuals in the visitor (standard category) copies will be destroyed after the visit has concluded.

For PPE visitors, copies of passport and visa / immigration stamps should be forwarded to the HR Department. No payment will meet made without these documents being provided. These documents will be retained on file until the University's next Home Office compliance audit.

Do I need to keep the Visitor Request Form and do HR need to see this?

You should retain the Visitor Request Form for the duration of the visit or a locally agreed time frame that complies with GDPR. HR only need to see these for PPE visitors.

Do I need to check documentation for someone coming for less than one day?

It is advisable to adopt the same document checking process for all visitors. However, if someone does not, or is unable to, provide the relevant documentation and you only intend to invite the visitor for less than 24 hours, they may still visit.

Who can undertake a documentation check?

Usually, this will be undertaken by Executive Support colleagues. However, Human Resources can do this between 9am-5pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-4.30pm on Fridays. visitors will need to report to Room 1.10 Whiteknights House or to one of our HR Coordinator hubs in Park House or Harborne.

How long can visitors stay?

See pages 3-5 of the Visitor Policy. NB: UK and EEA visitors should not exceed these time frames

Can I pay a visitor?

Visitors cannot receive funding for their work or activities in the UK from any UK source (payments of expenses, including travel and subsistence may be disregarded, but should be reasonable and justifiable). Travel, maintenance and accommodation may be provided by a third party.

PPE visitors can be paid for the activities they undertake.

What is the difference between an Academic Visitor and a Visiting Lecturer?

An Academic Visitor is non-EEA national who is highly qualified in their own field of expertise and currently works in that field at an institution overseas. This effectively means they must be employed overseas in a teaching or research role. There should be no remuneration from the University.

A Visiting Lecturer is a UK or EEA national that is engaged by the University to undertake a one-off or series of lectures (max 3 per year) and will be remunerated for this.

When is a visitor visa not the correct visa?

A visitor visa would not be appropriate in the following circumstances:

The person will be employed by the University. In this case, a Tier 2 (General), or Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa would usually be required.

Someone coming to give one, or a series of, lectures for more than one month. A Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa may be appropriate, but the person should not be filling an advertised vacancy and must be supernumerary (i.e. additional to normal staffing requirements).

Someone coming to participate in collaborative research on a University-hosted research project. A Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa would usually be required.

Students coming on internships or work placements to undertake research. Further advice should be sought from the HR Department in these circumstances as advice is likely to be required from the University's International Student Advisory Team.

A person holding the title of Visiting Professor, if working on University-hosted formal research projects. A Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa or Tier 1(Exceptional Talent) visa would usually be required.

Do I need to log all visitors on the Tax spreadsheet?

Overseas Visitor details must be added to the Tax teams Overseas Visitor Spreadsheet if their stay at the University is greater than 2 days. For more information, please contact vat@reading.ac.uk.

How do I know if bench fees apply?

Bench fees are locally arranged within the School or Function and payment is not made through HR. If you are unsure if bench fees apply, or how to these should be paid, please speak with your Head of School or Function.

When is a visit for educational purposes?

There are two questions to ask here: What is the visitor in their home country? What are we engaging them to do? If a student, in either case, liaise with the International Student Advisory Team in the first instance immigration@reading.ac.uk.

Do individuals engaged via Procurement need to follow the Visitor Policy?

No, they are not visitors to the University but are contracted to provide a service. For further information liaise directly with procurement@reading.ac.uk.

What is a Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange?

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) is a category which enables the University to sponsor 'researchers' (which includes academics, researchers, scientists, research engineers, and other or other skilled research technology specialists) for a maximum duration of 2 years to undertake the following activities:

External examinations.

A formal research project or collaboration.

A period of work-based training / work experience / internship / placement.

Skill development / knowledge transfer.

A series of lectures, which doesn't amount to a formal teaching post.

This Tier 5 (GAE scheme) is designed to support UK universities to engage with researchers abroad; promote the UK's position as a world leader in research, education and innovation; and maximise the effectiveness of public funding.

Can I pay a Sponsored Researcher?

The researcher may be funded by their host, their overseas employer, or an independent UK or non-UK funding body. The researcher cannot be self-funded and must be in receipt of funding in line with, or above, the National Minimum Wage.

Do HR need to be made aware of a Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange?

Yes. Sponsored Researchers need to have a Certificate of Sponsorship which HR must apply for.

What is the main difference between the Scientists & Researcher activities listed in the Visitor Policy (Standard Visit Visa), compared to the Tier 5 GAE category?

The main distinction here is that a researcher being sponsored under Tier 5 must be funded by their host, their overseas employer, or an independent UK or non-UK funding body. The researcher cannot be self-funded and must be in receipt of funding in line with, or above, the National Minimum Wage.

Researchers engaged in relation to their employment overseas and in receipt of no funding would fall under the standard visitor route.

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