A Complete Guide on UK Visa for PhD Holders and How to Get Tier 2 Visa in UK

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UK Visa for PhD Holders

The United Kingdom has long been a favoured destination for international students pursuing their Ph.D. degrees. With its world-renowned universities and research opportunities, the UK provides an intellectually stimulating environment for scholars to thrive. However, after completing their studies, many PhD holders face the complex task of securing a UK visa to continue their professional journey. In this article, we present a complete guide on UK visas for PhD holders and shed light on the Tier 2 visa process, ensuring a smooth transition for aspiring researchers.

What does the Concept of Visa Sponsorship for work in the United Kingdom entail?

Visa sponsorship for work in the UK entails securing a visa granted by the UK authorities, indicating that a company within the country is offering you employment. This arrangement involves the company taking full responsibility for your lawful residency in the UK, ensuring that you receive fair compensation on par with other UK employees. The process of UK visa sponsorship entails submitting a comprehensive set of documents to the UK visa authorities and the citizens and immigration services. It is worth noting that this information is tailored specifically for individuals holding a PhD qualification.

Also read: 5 Countries That Offer Free or Very Cheap PhD Programmes

Understanding the UK Visa Landscape:

The UK operates a points-based visa system, which encompasses several visa categories designed to cater to different immigration purposes. As a PhD holder, your primary focus will be on the Tier 2 visa, specifically the Tier 2 (General) visa category, which is specifically tailored for skilled workers.

Also read: How to get PhD Funding?

The Revised Tier 2 Visa Regulations to Favour Scholars and Researchers from India:

The United Kingdom is at the forefront of a technological revolution that is poised to reshape its economy and it is expected that highly proficient professionals holding doctoral-level qualifications will play a pivotal role in driving this transformation. In order to work in the UK, all skilled professionals originating from outside the country are required to obtain a Tier 2 visa. Presently, only a restricted number of Tier 2 work visas are annually issued to professionals possessing bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees.

As per reports released by the UK Home Office, a considerable majority of Tier 2 work visas granted to skilled professionals in 2018, totaling 54%, were awarded to individuals of Indian origin. The recent amendments made to the Tier 2 visa regulations will prove to be immensely advantageous for Indian professionals aspiring to settle or seek employment opportunities within the United Kingdom.

Eligibility Criteria for Tier 2 UK Visa for PhD Holders:

To be eligible for a Tier 2 (General) visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Sponsorship: You must have a job offer from a UK employer who holds a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence.
  • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): Your employer must provide you with a valid CoS, which confirms that the role is genuine and meets the skill level requirements.
  • Minimum Salary Threshold: The job offer must meet the minimum salary threshold set by the UK Home Office.
  • English Language Proficiency: You must demonstrate your proficiency in the English language by passing an approved English language test or holding an exempt qualification.
  • Maintenance Funds: You must show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK until your first salary payment.

Also read: PhD Scholarships in UK

Tier 2 Visa UK Visa for PhD Holders Application Process:

Once you have a job offer and meet the eligibility criteria, you can begin the Tier 2 visa application process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown:

  • Obtain a CoS: Your employer will provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship, which contains a unique reference number needed for the application.
  • Complete the Online Application: Fill out the Tier 2 visa application form online, providing accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Pay the Application Fee: The application fee for a Tier 2 (General) visa varies based on several factors, including the length of the visa and whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.
  • Biometric Information: Schedule an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS) centre to submit your biometric information (fingerprints and photograph).
  • Submit Supporting Documents: Compile and submit all the necessary supporting documents, such as your CoS, academic qualifications, bank statements and proof of English language proficiency.
  • Attend the Visa Interview: In some cases, you may be required to attend an interview to further assess your eligibility for the Tier 2 visa.
  • Visa Decision: Await the decision on your visa application. Typically, the processing time is around three weeks, but it can vary depending on the volume of applications.
  • Collect Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP): If your visa application is successful, you will receive a vignette in your passport, allowing you to enter the UK. Once in the UK, you must collect your BRP within ten days from a designated Post Office.

Securing a UK visa as a PhD holder can be a daunting task, but with a clear understanding of the Tier 2 visa process and the necessary steps, you can navigate the journey successfully. Remember to carefully follow the eligibility criteria, gather all the required documents, and submit a strong application to enhance your chances of obtaining the Tier 2 visa. Good luck in your pursuit of academic and professional excellence in the United Kingdom.


What is visa sponsorship for work in the United Kingdom?

Visa sponsorship involves securing a UK visa through an employer offering you employment, and taking responsibility for your lawful residency.

What is the Tier 2 visa category?

The Tier 2 visa is designed for skilled workers and is relevant for PhD holders seeking employment in the UK.

How have the Tier 2 visa regulations favoured Indian scholars and researchers?

Recent amendments to the Tier 2 visa regulations have been advantageous for Indian professionals seeking employment opportunities or settlement in the UK.

This was all about UK visas for PhD holders. And if you wish to study abroad, Leverage Edu provides customised counsel and steadfast assistance to students, aiding them in traversing the complexities of university selection, application procedures, and career planning.

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