Academic Visitors: a guide to apply for a UK visa

Entering for private research, arranged exchanges, teaching or clinical practice.


MARCH 2011. An academic visitor is either:

• A person on leave from an overseas academic institution who wishes to carry out their own private research or exchange information on research techniques;
• Academics (including doctors) taking part in arranged exchanges;
• Eminent senior doctors and dentists, coming to take part in research, teaching or clinical practice.

Academic visitors are allowed to stay in the UK for up to 12 months.

You will need to apply for leave to enter on Application Form VAF1E or select "Visit" as the purpose of application and "(Business) Academic visitor" as the type of application while filling out your visa application online.

Eligibility criteria for a Business Visitor visa – Academic Visitor

As well as meeting the normal requirements for a visitor visa and the requirements for a General Business visa, you must show that that:

• you have been working as an academic in an institution of higher education overseas, or in the field of their academic expertise immediately prior to seeking entry or entry clearance in this category.

Supporting documents for a Business Visitor visa – Academic Visitor

As supporting documents, you need to provide:

• Evidence that you have been invited to the UK from the institution you will attend (e.g. a formal letter of invitation from a university)
• Evidence of any accommodation arranged for you
• Details of any grants/bursaries

Your application as academic visitor is likely to be turned down if you are a:

recent graduate: you are unlikely to have sufficient expertise
postgraduate researcher: if you are studying to achieve a UK academic qualification you should apply for a student visa; if you receive a grant to undertake research, you should seek entry under Tier 2.
lecturer: if you plan to undertake a series of lectures, of commercial nature, you should seek entry under Tier 2; if it is a one-off engagement, apply for a mainstream business visitor visa
sponsored researchers: you should seek entry under Tier 5 – Government Authorised Exchange

Those who are on sabbatical leave from private research companies are not eligible for leave under the academic visitor provisions.

Related guides:

How to apply for a General Visit Visa
Business visitors: how to successfully apply for a UK visa
Sports visitors: a guide to apply for a UK visa
Entertainment visitors: a guide to apply for a UK visa
Visiting family in the UK: How to apply for a family visitor visa


By Federica Gaida
Edited by Raheela Hussain,
Principal Solicitor
Greenfields Solicitors
March 2011



For questions regarding the subject covered in this guide, PLEASE REGISTER IN OUR FORUM and post your question under the appropriate category (‘ENTERING THE UK: VISA ISSUES').
Greenfield Solicitors will answer them regularly.

Disclaimer: The above article is meant to be relied upon as an informative article and in no way constitutes legal advice. Information is offered for general information purposes only, based on the current law when the information was first displayed on this website.
You should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified solicitor on any specific legal enquiry. For legal advice regarding your case, please contact Greenfields Solicitors for a Consultation with a Solicitor on 020 8884 1166.



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