Relocation guide

We welcome staff from around the world to work at the University. This information is intended to help future and new staff relocate to the Guildford and Surrey area.

Relocating from UK and overseas

Accommodation is usually one of the most important factors in anyone’s mind when thinking of moving either within the UK or from overseas.

Deciding where to live can be a daunting prospect if you are unaware of the area. Property sites like Rightmove or Zoopla can help you to find out about the local area and where you may find accommodation within your price range.

Accommodation in Surrey and particularly in and around Guildford can be expensive, however only a few miles away there are towns and villages such as Aldershot or Farnham which are more affordable.

For those who are coming to the United Kingdom for the first time, below is a list of the various types of accommodation available (from traditionally most expensive to least expensive):

  • Detached house - has no adjoining neighbours
  • Semi-detached house - shares a wall with another property
  • Terraced house - part of a connected row of houses
  • Bungalow - only has one level
  • Maisonette - apartment/flat on two levels with internal stairs
  • Flat/apartment - usually self-contained with separate living area and at least one bedroom
  • Studio flat - self-contained with no shared facilities, combined living area/bedroom sometimes with separate kitchen otherwise combined
  • Bedsit - combined bedroom/living room/kitchen, often has shared bathroom and sometimes a shared kitchen
  • House/flat share - facilities are fully shared with others but with own bedroom

There are numerous estate agents within the vicinity of the University of Surrey, many of whom are both selling and renting accommodation. The National Association of Estate Agents website will help you ‘find an expert’. If you are wanting to rent upon arrival there are numerous agencies (Zoopla/Rightmove) or you could look through the local press to see adverts. GOV.UK has useful information and advice regarding renting including tenancy agreements.

There is also information in regards to Immigration checks by landlords on the Citizen’s Advice website.

The University of Surrey are also able to assist with your relocation requirements through the procurement of services from Pavilion (this expense is part of your relocation package and is not an additional award).

Right from a few weeks after birth, there are a number of options for your childcare needs through to their educational requirements. GOV.UK has information and advice on childcare and parenting.

Age Education/options available  
From Birth to 5 years Nursery Usually private (see Campus Kids)
  Nanny

Are employed to work in your home. Could be self-employed or through an agency, if directly sourced, this may make you an employer. (with certain legal responsibilities)

  Au-pairs

Not usually considered workers or employees as they live with the family they work for and get ‘pocket money’ of about £75-£80 per week. Can be located through an agency or direct online.

  Registered childminder

This is a person who looks after children in their own home for payment and can include pre and post school places.

All 3 and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of free early education or childcare a year. This is often taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year. 

Age Education/options available  

From 5 to 16 years

School
  • Community School controlled by local council and not influenced by business or religious groups
  • Foundation School and Voluntary School have more freedom to change than Community Schools 
  • Academies run by a governing body, independent from the local council and can follow a different curriculum
  • Grammar Schools run by the council, foundation body or trust and select all or most of their pupils on academic ability and often an exam to get in.
  Private school Also known as independent charges fees to attend. Pupils don’t have to follow the national curriculum
 

Special educational needs and

disabilities (SEND)

Gov.uk has information on how to progress an application is required.

Guildford itself has a number of very good schools both state and independent including:

  • George Abbot School Academy - Co-educational, 11-18 years
  • Royal Grammar School - Independent, Boys only, 11-18 years
  • Christ’s College - Voluntary Aided, Affiliated to Church of England, Co-educational 11-18 years
  • Tormead - Independent, Girls only 4-18 years 

Please note this in no way reflects the preference of any school and is only used as a guide for the variety of schools in the Guildford area.

For more information, take a look at the guide to secondary schools for the Guildford area.

The school year in England runs from September to July and the links given should help with admissions criteria for relevant local authorities (or your ‘catchment area’). Schools in England are inspected by OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) and this can be a helpful way of you finding out more about your local schools.

For any further education queries please see the Department for Education website

Age Education/options available  
From 16 to 18 years (Further Education) Apprenticeships This combines practical training in a job along with study (National Minimum wage)
  Sixth form college Includes any study after secondary school that’s not part of a higher education. Courses range from basic English and Maths to Higher National Diplomas and Advanced Levels (usually free for under students under 24 years of age and studying for their first qualification). Can be independent or part of a school.
From 18 years onwards (Higher Education) University  
  Apprenticeships  

Guildford is conveniently situated roughly half way between Portsmouth and London Greenwich and today is easily accessible by various forms of transport.

By car

Guildford is serviced by the A3 trunk road which runs from Portsmouth to London and is roughly an hour’s drive from central London. Whilst Guildford is a beautiful city due to its history, the roads are not designed for the volume of the 21st century and can cause major congestion in the centre particularly at rush hour.

There is a Park and Ride (you leave your car and ride the bus into the city centre) at:

  • The Spectrum Leisure Complex (just off A3 southbound)
  • Old Portsmouth Road at Artington
  • Merrow
  • Ladymead

By bus

Bus routes are more local than coaches (see below) and payable as you enter the bus, although you can buy passes on weekly, monthly and annual basis. Guildford is served by many bus routes from Aldershot, Woking and Godalming. Some find the bus fares expensive and the buses unreliable, however from the University they tend to be frequent and arrive quickly in the city centre (other traffic permitting).

By coach

Coaches are for longer distance journeys and tickets have to be purchased in advance. These tend to stop at Guildford Pak Barn which is slightly outside of the city and you would need a local bus or taxi (cab) to take you into Guildford.

By train

Guildford train station is central to the city and includes two direct routes to London as well as Portsmouth. Please note that there is a smaller station called London Road (Guildford) which is the penultimate stop on the route from London via Cobham.

By taxi (cab)

Other than London Black cabs you should not try and get a taxi to pick you up unless you are at a designated taxi rank or you have booked directly with a taxi company.

There are numerous cab companies and Uber is available via an app on your smart phone. On average a taxi tends to be the most expensive form of transport.

Relocating from overseas

As an employer and sponsor we must fulfil our responsibility by ensuring that you have the right to commence employment in the UK. Before you commence employment, the University will undertake various document checks to demonstrate your eligibility. If you are a non-EU national, your employment with the University may be subject to the relevant permission to work in the UK as defined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and you may require a visa. If you are unsure, there is a simple process you can follow to check if you need a visa. Your HR office will also be able to help.

Non-EEA Nationals

If you are a non-EEA national then you will be required permission under one of the following tiers of the Points Based Immigration System before you can start in the UK.

Tier 2 (General) sponsorship

For some skilled roles, the University can sponsor some employees and provide a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) visa. If this is required, you will be provided with all the relevant information by your HR team and will liaise with you accordingly.

Monitoring and record keeping

Once employed the University is obliged to carry out certain monitoring and record keeping duties of all current visa holders. Please see our eligibility to work in the UK policy for further details.

You will require a bank account for your salary to be paid into. Whilst this should be done as soon as possible if arriving from outside of the UK, the rules and regulations for opening a bank account are very strict and require significant documentation.

If arriving from outside of the United Kingdom: 

  • Discuss the transfer with your current bank who may be able to offer some advice or may have links with banks in the UK
  • Ask if your current bank card can be used in the UK and if there are charges
  • Ask if your current bank has a mechanism to transfer money to and from the UK 

There are two main types of bank account: basic and current, neither of which tend to have a fee attached. A third type of account is a packaged account, where customers pay a monthly fee in exchange for benefits such as travel, home and mobile phone insurance.

At the University of Surrey we have a branch of Santander on site, with several others in Guildford town centre (10 minutes’ walk away).

To open an account at this or any other High Street bank, you will normally require:

  • A confirmation letter of employment (your local HR office can help with this)
  • Your passport or your EEA national identity card
  • UK address (temporary is usually acceptable, however be aware that banks may send confidential information to this address and so you should ensure any change is updated as soon as possible)

Everyone who works in the UK needs to register for a National Insurance number. This personal number will determine the amount of national insurance you pay and these contributions are collected along with Income tax under PAYE (Pay as You Earn). The University is responsible for paying your contributions and these will be deducted from your pay automatically. These contributions qualify each individual for certain state benefits. It also acts as a reference number for the whole social security system in the UK.

If you are moving to the UK, you may have an NI number printed on the back of your biometric residence permit (BRP). You do not have to apply for an NI number if you already have one or that one is printed on your BRP.

If you don’t have a National Insurance number, you must apply. You can only apply for it once you’re in the UK. You must have the right to work or study in the UK to get a National Insurance number.

You can start work before your National Insurance number arrives if you can prove you can work in the UK. You should tell your employer that you’ve applied for one, and give it to them when you have it.

If you are in any doubt, visit your local HR team who will be able to assist you with the process. 

There are special rules in force if you are coming to the UK from EEA or Switzerland and therefore you may wish to visit the HMRC website.

The University of Surrey is unable to provide advice on tax matters, however anyone who is paid employment normally has to pay income tax and you will be taxed according to your earnings. The same as NI, this is deducted by the University from your pay.

Should you have any queries you should visit the Tax Office website.

If you wish to contact the University of Surrey’s tax office, details can be found on the e-pay system (your electronic payslip) or from the Payroll department (Floor 7 Senate House).

All employees will be automatically enrolled into the relevant scheme you are eligible for. You will have received some details in your starter pack or you can contact Pensions on Floor 7 Senate House.

Currently there are three main types of pension:

  • State pension (payable if an individual has enough qualifying years from their National Insurance contributions)
  • Occupational pensions (including the University Scheme)
  • Personal pensions (available from banks, building societies and life insurance companies)

Registering with a doctor (GP)

The National Health Service (NHS) covers emergency and routine care*. Unlike other countries private health care insurance is not standard and most individuals rely on the comprehensive health care system.

When you arrive in the UK, you will need to register with a doctor (or often referred to as a GP) in order to access NHS. Doctor’s surgeries have catchment areas which means you can only register near to where you live. You will be issued with a personal NHS number on a card which should be kept safe as you may need it when you visit the doctor or hospitals. Whilst consultation is free, there is a charge for prescriptions (or prescribed medication). Should you require specialist treatment, this may require a referral from your doctor to a hospital-based consultant.

In the event of an emergency you should call 999 which would alert an ambulance to your home, or if possible visit your local Accident and Emergency usually based at your closest hospital (i.e. Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford or St Peters in Chertsey). You may also be close to a ‘walk-in centre’ however these are more local and may have specific opening and closing times.

(*NHS Surcharge is payable by non-EU visitors per person per year).

Registering with a dentist

You can register with a dentist in the same way as you register with a doctor, however dentists do not have a catchment area in the same way as a doctor. Find a dental practice that is convenient and contact them to see if they have any appointments available. Please note that not all dental practices will be able to take new NHS patients, which usually means you can choose to be seen privately or request to be placed on the waiting list (or seek another dentist). You should always find a dentist prior to requiring treatment. Children in full-time education are free, however there is a minimal charge for most adults.

All treatment that is, in your dentist’s opinion, clinically necessary to protect and maintain good oral health is available on the NHS. If you require cosmetic dental treatment this will be done privately and you should ask your dentist how much this will cost in additional to any changes for NHS treatment.

Please see the NHS Choices website for more information.

Frequently asked questions – overseas applicants

In order to work in the UK, you will require a Tier 2 (General) visa. Please see the guidance below regarding the visa application process once you have received your Certificate of Sponsorship number.

You should apply for the visa as soon as you are provided with the Certificate of Sponsorship number (please note it takes 24 hours to activate) as it can take up to eight weeks for applications to be processed. You should not enter the UK before the start date as recorded on your visa. The start date of your visa will be recorded on the system and your HR Advisor will let you know this date along with the Certificate of Sponsorship number.

Apply for your visa at the GOV.UK website.

The visa application must be lodged in the country where you currently reside.

Note: this does not have to be your country of origin, as noted in UKVI guidance:

"Applications for all other types of entry clearance, including [under the points based system] and settlement should be made in the applicant’s country of residence. ‘Country of residence’ is not necessarily their country of origin and refers to wherever the applicant has permission to reside, for example, for work or study purposes. Many countries will issue overseas nationals with residency cards in these cases. An applicant who has permission to stay in a country as a visitor for six months, for example, is not a resident."

This should be noted in your offer letter.

The University of Surrey is an A-rated premium sponsor.

Information on English language requirements can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Please check the final entry on your certificate of sponsorship which will confirm if the recruiting department has agreed to certify maintenance for you. If they have, then no further action is required.

If they have not, then you must ensure you have a bank/savings account in your name that holds at least £945. You must have had this in your bank account for a full 90 days before you apply. If the balance of your account has fallen below £945 for even a single day in that 90 day period, your visa application will be refused.

Please contact your recruiting department before you submit your visa application if you cannot meet the maintenance requirement.

Please see the GOV.UK website for up-to-date guidance on visa fee costs.

This will vary depending on the country in which you submit your visa application. For guidance on location specific timeframes, visit the GOV.UK website.

Certain countries provide enhanced services which will expedite the visa application. The VFS.Global website has full details on which services are available, including the processing times and the cost. 

The payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is mandatory for all non-EEA nationals who are issued a visa of more than 6 months in length. It is an additional charge, to the visa fee and must be made up-front at the time of the visa application.

Payment of the surcharge will ensure that you have full access to the NHS on the same terms as a permanent UK resident.

The surcharge will cost an additional £200 per person per year that your visa is valid. For example, if you apply for a three year visa, you will be charged an additional £600. If you have dependants, the surcharge will also apply to their visa applications on the same basis. The full cost must be paid at the point of application.

For further guidance, please see the UKVI webpages.

As part of the online visa application process, you will be prompted to pay the surcharge via a separate online portal. After payment of the charge, you will automatically be issued a long reference number which will start ‘IHS’.

When prompted in the online visa application, you must enter this reference number in order to proceed.

Your dependants can apply at the same time as you to enter the UK. Alternatively, they can wait until you have entered the UK and started work before they apply.

There may be slight variations depending on the country in which you submit your application, but in general, after you submit your application online and make payment you will be sent an e-mail from the Home Office requesting you to attend a local Visa Application Centre to enrol your fingerprints and photographs.

Once that is complete, you will be asked to post all your supporting documentation to the Embassy, who will then consider your application. You will be informed by the Home Office where you need to send your documents.

After you submit your application online, you will be provided with an information sheet which confirms which documents you need to submit.

If your application is granted, the visa you initially receive inside your passport will only be valid for 30 days. This is known as a ’30 day vignette’ and will facilitate your entry into the UK. You must enter the UK before the vignette expires or you will have to re-apply for your visa.

Within ten days of your arrival in the UK, you are required to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from a UK Post Office. The BRP will state the full length of leave you have been granted and will supersede the 30 day vignette.

Full details of how you arrange collection of your BRP will be provided to you by UKVI at the point your application is approved. For further guidance, please see the UKVI website.

You must notify your recruiting HR department immediately if your visa is refused.

If you are refused, there is no separate appeal process, but you may be able to lodge what is known as an ‘Administrative Review’. Please see any correspondence from the Home Office that accompanies your refusal letter.

Your HR adviser will contact you in advance of your arrival to make arrangements for your first day. Under UK legislation, as an employer we are required to check that you hold permission to live and work in the UK before you start work. You can evidence this with your passport and your 30 day vignette or BRP.

You must bring your identity document as above to your HR department for copying before work commenced. If you have not yet collected your BRP before your first day, you can start work on the basis of your 30 day vignette provided it is still valid. You then must obtain your BRP from the post office as soon as possible and present this to your HR adviser before the expiry of your vignette. 

The University reimburses the standard visa fee (currently £677 and has separate guidance on this). There is no central University policy of reimbursing additional visa fees. It is at each department/institutions’ discretion as to whether they reimburse visa fees and/or the NHS Surcharge. Please note that this may be considered as a benefit in kind and you would need to discuss this with the payroll team if you have any concerns regarding this. Please note, that where you are relocating to the UK for the first time, any reimbursement of visa fees is a non-taxable benefit.

Please see the UKVI website for further information.

You will be asked to sign a sponsored employee checklist to ensure you understand the terms of the Tier 2 visa.

Yes. You can hold an unlimited number of Tier 2 visas with as many employers as you wish up to a maximum of 6 years.

After you have spent five years in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa you are eligible to apply for settlement (also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain). If you are successful in gaining settlement, you are no longer subject to visa restrictions in the UK and you will have the unlimited right to work.

In order to become eligible after the minimum five year period, you need to be aware of the following criteria:

Cumulatively, you cannot spend more than 180 days outside the UK in each year of the qualifying five year period. This includes all personal and business-related travel unless there are compelling compassionate reasons for travel.

If you are working in a PhD level role (which comprises all university researchers, lecturers and professors), you are not required to meet the minimum salary threshold when you apply for settlement (currently £35,000). All other university appointments through Tier 2 will have to meet this requirement at the point you apply for settlement.

Frequently asked questions - in-country applications and extensions

Please see the guidance below regarding the visa application process once you have received your Certificate of Sponsorship number.

For standard Tier 2 applications, apply online at the GOV.UK website.

If you wish to expedite your visa application at an additional cost, which will not be reimbursed by the University unless you have pre-approval you can use either of the following services:

For premium service, please book an appointment with UKVI before submitting your visa application.  

In all cases, you must apply for and post your new visa application before your current visa expires. You will need to give your local HR department evidence of your proof of application (print out and proof of postage from the post office) for extensions of visas while working at the University before your current visa expires. If you do not provide us with this information, your employment could be suspended or terminated until this evidence is provided. Please do keep us regularly updated with the progress of you application and your HR team will contact you each month for an update until you receive your new visa.

Up-to-date guidance on visa fee costs can be found on the GOV.UK website

Please contact your local HR team regarding guidance about how to claim back the standard visa fee. Please note the University does not reimburse postage or biometric enrolment.

UK Visas and Immigration provide an eight week service standard for all online applications.

For applications made through the priority and premium services, you will receive your new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within ten working days.

The payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is mandatory for all non-EEA nationals who are issued a visa of more than 6 months in length. It is an additional charge, over and above the visa fee and must be made up-front at the time of the visa application. Payment of the surcharge will ensure that you have full access to the NHS on the same terms as a permanent UK resident.

The surcharge will cost an additional £200 per person per year that your visa is valid. For example, if you apply for a three year visa, you will be charged an additional £600. If you have dependants, the surcharge will also apply to their visa applications on the same basis. The full cost must be paid at the point of application. Please note that this is applicable to all applicants for a new visa, even those who did not pay in a previous period of leave. 

For further guidance, please see the UKVI website.

As part of the online visa application process, you will be prompted to pay the surcharge via a separate online portal. After payment of the charge, you will automatically be issued a long reference number which will start ‘IHS’.

When prompted in the online visa application, you must enter this reference number in order to proceed.

The University of Surrey is an A-rated premium sponsor.

After you submit your application online, you will be provided with an information sheet which confirms which documents you need to submit.

Please see the UKVI website.

You are also permitted to undertake supplementary employment in line with these conditions outlined in the Guidance for Sponsors document

Please note that you will be asked to sign the sponsored employee checklist to ensure that you understand these conditions.

As part of the University's commitment, we undertake an annual check to make sure we have the correct passport and contact details for staff on visas.

You must notify your HR contact immediately if your visa is refused.

If you are refused, there is no separate appeal process, but you may be able to lodge what is known as an ‘Administrative Review’. Please see any correspondence from the Home Office that accompanies your refusal letter but please note we will not be able to issue you with another Certificate of Sponsorship until you hear the outcome of your ‘Administrative Review.’

As you are making a Tier 2 application from inside the UK, the type of application you make will be classed as either a switching, extension or change of employment application. E.g. Tier 4 to Tier 2, current staff who have an extension of their contract or are currently in the UK and are changing employer. 

Please see the appropriate guidance below, only one of which will be applicable to you.

Switching

This section is only applicable to you if you are already in the UK and hold a visa in a different category (commonly a Tier 1 or Tier 4 visa).

If you are a Tier 4 Higher Education student, you can switch to Tier 2 only when you have either:

  • Been awarded your degree; or
  • Have completed a minimum 12 months of study in the UK towards a UK PhD.

If you hold any other visa type, there are no other limitations on when you can apply.

In all cases you must apply for your new visa before your current visa expires and provide your HR team with evidence (application and proof of postage) that you have applied before the expiry of your current visa. 

Please see the guidance on the UKVI website please note that in some cases, this will not be needed but please check the GOV.UK website.

Please check your correspondence with HR carefully to see if the recruiting department has agreed to certify maintenance for you. If they have, then no further action is required.

If they have not, then you must ensure you have a bank/savings account in your name that holds at least £945. You must have had this in your bank account for a full 90 days before you apply. If the balance of your account has fallen below £945 for even a single day in that 90 day period, your visa application will be refused. If you have dependants, you will need to have an additional £630 per dependant in your account for the same 90 day period.

Yes, but only if you made your new visa application before your current visa expires.

To ensure the University can legally continue to employ you whilst your Tier 2 application is pending:

We must see evidence of your application before the expiry of your current visa. The evidence is the online (or paper copy) print out of your application and the proof of postage, with any accompanying UKVI application acknowledgement letters. Please bring this information to the HR Office as soon as you can.

Please be aware that the University has an obligation to check your continued right to work while you are waiting for your new visa and will need to complete an employer checking service check which we will ask your permission to complete.

It is University Policy that you can start work on your tier 4 visa for the number of hours stated on your visa only.

Once your Tier 2 application has been granted, you must present your passport and new BRP to your departmental administrator as soon as possible.

Extensions

This section is only applicable to you if:

  • You currently hold a Tier 2 visa; and
  • You are currently working for the University of Surrey; and
  • You will continue to work in the same occupation/SOC Code.

You cannot apply more than 3 months before your current Tier 2 visa expires. However, you must apply before your current visa expires.

No. As you already hold a Tier 2 visa you are exempt from meeting these requirements for this application.

Yes, but only if you made your new visa application before your current visa expires.

To ensure the University can legally continue to employ you whilst your Tier 2 application is pending we must see copies of evidence of your application, the online print out, proof of postage and the confirmation letter from the UKVI

Failure to provide the above documentation before your current visa expires may result in the termination of your contract.

Change of Employment

This section is only applicable to you if:

You currently hold a Tier 2 visa and you are either:

  • You are currently working for a different employer; or
  • You are currently employed by the University of Surrey but are moving to a new role in a different SOC code.

You must apply before your current visa expires, but there are no restrictions beyond this. Please also see the section below on “When can I start work”?

No. As you already hold a Tier 2 visa you are exempt from meeting these requirements for this application.

You must have obtained your new Tier 2 BRP before you can start work in our new role, and this has been seen and verified by your HR contact.

It is possible for you to continue working for your previous employer or, if you are currently employed by the University of Surrey, working in your previous role up until the start date of the new job, as stated on your new CoS, provided the Tier 2 visa you held for your previous employer/role has not expired.