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Recruiting international staff

This page outlines the main visa routes including details of the new points-based immigration system and the obligations the University must fulfil in order to appoint international staff requiring a visa. 

Note: EU nationals not living in the UK before 31st December 2020 will most likely require a visa to work in the UK from 1st January 2021.

If you are recruiting to a specific post that will attract international applicants or if you want to check that the post you are advertising is eligible for a Skilled Worker visa, you can speak to your recruitment contact for further information or advice prior to advertising or contact the HR Immigration Team. 

These pages provide recruiting managers with general guidance only, please refer to the website for specific details

For applicants who do not already have the right to work in the UK there are two main types of visa which permit work in the UK:

  • Global Talent Visa (previously called the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent/Promise visa). This visa does not require sponsorship from the University and is not linked to a specific job, it is up to individuals to assess their eligibility and apply for this visa.
  • Skilled Worker Visa (from 1st January 2021, the Tier 2 visa will be rebranded the Skilled Worker visa) This visa requires sponsorship from the University to enable the individual to work in a specific job. 

Applicants may already have the right to work in the UK, if they have one of the following:

  • EU Settled Status
  • Dependent/Spouse visa
  • Indefinite leave to remain
  • UK Ancestry

Global Talent Visa

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent/Promise visa was re-branded the Global Talent visa in February 2020. This route is used for individuals in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, social science and humanities who are already recognised as a leader in their field of expertise (exceptional talent). It is also used by early career individuals who have demonstrated potential to be a leader in their field (exceptional promise). 

There are four main routes to apply:

  • Senior appointments – for individuals who have accepted a job as a Professor or Associate Professor at the University of Exeter. The Recruitment or HR Immigration team will advise if the post meets the criteria.
  • Fellowships – for individuals awarded a fellowship within the last 12 months from the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society. A full list of approved fellowships can be found here.
  • Endorsed Funders – for researchers and specialists whose name or job title is specified in a grant application from an endorsed funder approved by the UKRI. A full list of endorsed funders can be found here. In addition, the funding must be at least £30,000 and the contract must be for at least two years.
  • Peer Review – for individuals who submit an application for a full peer review by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering or Royal Society. Applicants must demonstrate exceptional talent (leader in their field) or exceptional promise (emerging leader)
  • Whilst it is largely up to the individual to assess their eligibility and apply for this visa, the HR Immigration Team will be able to advise on the process for each route.

Skilled Worker Visa   

The Tier 2 visa has been rebranded the skilled worker visa under the new points-based immigration system implemented in December 2020. Under the new scheme there is no longer the requirement to advertise for 28 days (we still need to demonstrate that there was a genuine vacancy) and we no longer need to demonstrate that there were no suitable settled workers before appointing internationally; we can appoint the best candidate.

To be eligible for this visa, the post must be skilled to A level. The absolute minimum salary requirement for a skilled worker visa is £20,480, but the general salary threshold is £25,600. However, there are also job specific thresholds which apply, and these may be higher. Applicants must be paid the appropriate rate £25,600 or the threshold for the job, whichever is highest. For example:

Researcher – £30,885

Lecturer - £38,091

If you are recruiting internationally it is advisable to check with your recruitment coordinator, prior to advertising, if the post will be eligible for sponsorship. Not all posts are eligible for sponsorship.

The skilled worker visa allows individuals to work solely for the University in the post to which they are appointed. To be eligible for this visa applicants must score 70 points:

50 points are obtained from the following mandatory criteria:

  • Job offer from a sponsor – 20 points 
  • Job offer at minimum skill level (A level or equivalent) – 20 points
  • English language – 10 points

Under the new points-based immigration system, there is flexibility to obtain the necessary points to eligible for the skilled worker visa, even if the salary is below threshold. The remaining points can be obtained from one of the following tradeable characteristics:

  • Salary at or above the appropriate rate – 20 points
  • Salary equals or exceeds 90% of the appropriate rate  - 10 points plus the applicant has a PhD in a subject relevant to the job – 10 points  
  • PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job – 20 points 
  • Job in a shortage occupation – 20 points 
  • Applicant is a new entrant to the labour market – 20 points 

Eligibility for the skilled worker will depend on the appropriate rate for the job and individual characteristics. It is therefore necessary to discuss with your recruitment coordinator before making an offer of employment. The recruitment coordinator will check and confirm an applicant's eligibility for this visa.

If a skilled worker visa is required, the recruitment team will notify the HR Immigration Team who will liaise directly with the applicant to support them through the visa process. They will also keep the recruiting manager informed of visa progress. 

Student (Tier 4) visa holders

Students with a job offer will be able to switch visa category in the UK to either the Global Talent Visa or the Skilled Worker visa, providing they meet the criteria outlined above.

Student visa holders may be able to start work on their visa, in line with the work restrictions of this visa, provided they are not offered a permanent contract. The recruitment coordinator will assess the individual's circumstances and advise.

Further information