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Tier 5 – Government Authorised Exchanges

This visa is for those individuals coming to the United Kingdom through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice through work placements, whilst experiencing the wider social and cultural setting of the United Kingdom.

Visitors’ dependants are allowed to work if they are accompanying or joining the main applicant in the UK provided they have the correct visa to do so.

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Find out how our highly skilled immigration solicitors can help you secure your Tier 5 – government authorised exchanges visa by calling us or requesting a call back at a time suited to you.

  • General requirements

    For sponsored researchers and visiting academics the following restrictions apply:

    • The individual must not fill a genuine vacancy in the UK workforce
    • The employment must conform to UK employment legislation and any funding/salary received must meet national minimum wage requirements
    • Funding can come from any source, but the individual cannot fund themselves
    • The individual can be paid weekly, monthly, annually or in one lump sum. There are no restrictions, provided they are paid at national minimum wage rates
    • The work must be skilled to at least level 3 on the National Qualification Framework; broadly defined as ‘A level and above'

    To confirm the skill level is appropriate, we must assign a relevant SOC Code to each Tier 5 application. In practice, as we can only appoint ‘sponsored researchers’ or ‘visiting academics’ to Tier 5 roles, the SOC Code will never be anything other than PhD level.

    The job title must relate to the relevant SOC Code, but there are no other rules on Tier 5 job titles. For sponsored researchers we most commonly use ‘visiting scientist’, ‘visiting researcher’ or ‘sponsored researcher’. This is not an exhaustive list.

    The visa is valid for two years maximum and cannot be extended beyond this date. The sponsored individual may be able to undertake supplementary employment.

  • Certificate of Sponsorship: CoS application procedure

    Any individual seeking to come to the university through the Tier 5 (GAE) route must first be issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the university. It is for faculties and departments, not individuals, to request a CoS. To apply for a Tier 5 CoS, departments should supply the following documentation:

    • Tier 5 application form
    • Curriculum vitae
    • Photo page of a valid passport
    • Copy of degree certificate plus certified translation if not in English
    • A copy of the letter from the organisation that is going to sponsor the applicants' stay whilst they are at the University. The letter should include details on the dates of their stay and the total amount of funds they will receive

    Individuals cannot apply for their visa more than three months before the CoS start date. However, the CoS must be used within three months of being assigned.

  • Visa application process

    An application for a Tier 5 (GAE) visa must be made from outside the UK in the applicant's country of residence. The only exception are those individuals holding a Tier 4 visa, who can switch to Tier 5 (GAE), but only if they are to undertake an internship or a period of temporary work experience in the UK.

    If an individual wishes to apply for a Tier 5 (GAE) visa, they will need to be awarded a minimum of 40 points. This is calculated as below.

    30 points for a valid CoS. This will be met if:

    • The individual is not filling a genuine vacancy in the UK workforce
    • The employment conforms to UK employment legislation and any funding and salary received meets national minimum wage requirements
    • The work is skilled to at least level 3 on the National Qualification Framework
    • Ten points for meeting the UKVI maintenance criteria

    If these requirements are not met then the individual will not be issued a Tier 5 visa

    Before an individual who is sponsored under Tier 5 starts work, institutions must tell them about their responsibilities under the points-based system.

  • Documents to provide

    To support your Tier 5 visa application you should submit the following documents:

    • Original bank statements proving that you have a minimum daily balance of £945 (if applying in the UK or overseas) for a continuous three month period
    • Current passport and any previous passports containing UK visas
    • Proof of English language such as a current IELTS certificate or your degree certificate
    • Two recent passport photos on a cream or light grey background

The Government Authorised Exchange Scheme

The government authorised exchange visa can not be used to bring unskilled workers to the UK or to fill job vacancies. If you intend to move to the UK with the purpose of working full time this visa is not the right fit for you.

On the government authorised exchange scheme you may be able to work up to 20 hours a week and even extend your visa to up to two years if you are doing further research or training.

Switching to a Government Authorised Exchange Visa

If you are in the UK on a Tier 4 general study visa you are permitted to switch to a government authorised exchange visa if you are intending to undertake work experience or an internship.

You may be able to bring dependants with you on the government authorised exchange visa, as you could be staying in the UK up to two years.

Switching to a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

After your stay in the UK on this visa you may be eligible to switch to a Tier 1 exceptional talent visa. There are 2,000 available places in this visa category between the 6th of April 2008 and the 5th of April 2019.

The Tier 1 exceptional talent visa will allow you to stay in the UK for up to five years, after which you are likely able to apply for permanent residence.

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