Engaging individuals who do not have the right to work in the UK (PPE)

Experts who do not have the right to work in the UK who have been invited by a Higher Education Institution to give one or a short series of paid lectures in their area of expertise can now work for up to one month at that HEI under a Permitted Paid Engagement.  This route does not allow overseas lecturers to cover the role of the usual university lecturer for one month - it is designed to bring in those who have particular expertise in a subject area and to share this with other academics.

A list of permitted engagements are listed below:

  • examine students and/or participate in or chair selection panels as a visiting academic, who is highly qualified within his or her own field of expertise, invited by a United Kingdom Higher Education Institution or a United Kingdom based research or arts organisation as part of that institution or organisation’s quality assurance processes;
  • give one or more lectures in his or her field of expertise as a visiting lecturer, invited by a United Kingdom Higher Education Institution or a United Kingdom based research or arts organisation;
  • and does not intend to take employment, produce goods or provide services within the United Kingdom, including the selling of goods or services direct to members of the public other than as permitted for by the pre-arranged paid engagement;
  • and will maintain and accommodate him or herself adequately out of resources available to the applicant without recourse to public funds or taking employment; or will be maintained and accommodated adequately by relatives or friends.

To simplify the administrative burden on both the individual and the University, individuals working at the University under PPE should be engaged on a self employed basis.  Individuals will need to complete an invoice on completion of the work in order to be paid.

The individual must leave the UK after the one month period and must not undertake any other paid engagement in the UK during this time.


The PPE is a separate route from the business visitor, so the individual would need to arrive in the UK as either

  • a business visitor (this can also be known as an academic visitor and is for unpaid work please see the UKBA website for more information)
  • OR under the Permitted Paid Engagements route. Individuals cannot switch into this visa if they are already in the UK on another visa.

The PPE category is for nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

Visa nationals will need to obtain a visa before travelling. Please see the UKBA website on details of how to apply.

Non-visa nationals (which includes nationals from the US and Canada) do not need a visa in advance of travelling to the UK, but can do so if they wish. If they do not have a visa in advance they should declare the reason for their visit at the point of entry in the UK. They will need to demonstrate to the UKBA that they are qualified to perform the paid engagements or that the paid engagements relate to their area of expertise, qualifications or occupation. If this is successfully demonstrated then they will be approved entry.

We cannot guarantee a successful visa application/ successful entry to the UK as the decision is at the discretion of the immigration officers overseas or at the UK port of entry. We, therefore strongly recommend that even non-visa nationals raise any concerns with their nearest Visa Application Centre/British Embassy to avoid any issues on arrival in the UK.

The UKBA strongly advise you to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK if:

  • you have any unspent criminal convictions in any country, including the UK;
  • you have previously been refused entry, deported or otherwise removed from the UK;
  • you have breached the terms of any previous entry to the UK (for example, by working illegally or staying here after your permission to stay expired);
  • you have previously applied for a visa and been refused; or
  • you have been warned by a UK official that you should obtain a visa before you travel to the UK.

You may not be allowed to enter the UK if you do not have a visa.


Individuals must demonstrate to the UKBA when they apply for leave to enter or at the point of entry (for non-visa nationals) that they are qualified to perform the paid engagements or that the paid engagements relate to their area of expertise, qualifications or occupation.  The Immigration Rules require the visitor to therefore have the following:

  • A formal invitation from the University (PPE letter template with Contract for Services) - this should be formal, from a senior figure such as the Dean, and on headed paper, and include information as to why the lecturer has been appointed to give the lecture (i.e. because s/he is an expert in xxx field); what lecturers they will be doing, where and for how long; that a fee will be paid and accommodation provided;
  • Documents to show that the lecture relates to his/her field of expertise and/or qualifications such as the production of publications by the individual in a particular field and any evidence of previous lectures given in that field of expertise.;
  • Documents to show that the subject relates to their full time occupation overseas (i.e a letter from the individual’s employer confirming their current employment and expertise in the relevant field).

The following link is from the UKBA website and shows the supporting documents that an individual will need. See page 4 section headed 'Permitted Paid Engagements'. This can be sent to the individual to assist them with the visa preparation: UKBA visitors pdf.


If the invited person intends to be accompanied by their dependents, the dependents would need to apply in their own right as a 'general visitor' (unless they qualify under another category of visitor).

Further information

For further information please see the UK Border Agency webpages.