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Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange) visa

If you wish to apply for a visa in this category then our team at Hunter Stone Law will be able to guide and assist you throughout every step of the process. In order to qualify for this visa you would have to meet the requirement of the relevant section of the Immigration Rules. However we have attempted to simplify the requirements below.

You can apply for a Tier 5 Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange visa if you:

  • want to come to the UK for a short time for work experience or to do training, an Overseas Government Language Programme, research or a fellowship through an approved government authorised exchange scheme
  • have a sponsor
  • are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • meet the other eligibility requirements

Sponsorship

You must get sponsored - ie have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor before you can apply to come to the UK to work.

Your work, training or research in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organisation.

Your sponsor can be any of the following:

  • an organisation running an approved exchange scheme
  • a higher education institution (if you are a sponsored researcher, visiting academic or examiner)
  • a government department or agency

How long you can stay

You can stay in the UK for up to 12 or 24 months (depending on the scheme you’re applying for) or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 28 days, whichever is shorter.  You can enter the UK up to 14 days before the start date of your job.

Eligibility

You must have both of the following:

a certificate of sponsorship reference number from your UK sponsor

£945 in savings - this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply

You won’t need £945 in savings if your fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor has stated on your certificate of sponsorship that they’ll certify your maintenance and that you won’t claim benefits during your stay.

Certificate of sponsorship

A certificate of sponsorship is a reference number which holds information about the job and your personal details. It’s not an actual certificate or paper document. Your sponsor will give you your certificate of sponsorship reference number. They must also give you some other information to help you to apply, eg your working hours. You’ll need to add your certificate of sponsorship reference number to your application form - you can only use it once. You must apply for your visa within 3 months of receiving your certificate of sponsorship.

Multiple entry

Your sponsor can give you a multiple entry certificate of sponsorship so you can leave and return to the UK.

Documents you must provide

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • a passport-sized colour photograph
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £900 (£945 from 1 July) in savings continuously for 90 days before you apply - this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • You’ll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

You won’t need £945 in savings if your fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor has stated on your certificate of sponsorship that they’ll certify your maintenance and that you won’t claim benefits during your stay.

You must provide the original plus a photocopy of every document you provide.

Application

If you’re applying from outside the UK then you must apply online for this visa.  You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.

If you’re applying in the UK then you can only extend your existing visa or switch to this visa if you’re already in the UK.

You can also apply to extend your Tier 5 (Temporary worker - Government Authorised Exchange) visa. You should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend - including children who have turned 18 during your stay. You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility

You may be able to extend your stay if:

  • you still meet the eligibility requirements
  • your sponsor changes

You must apply while you’re still in the UK.

How long you can stay

You can apply to stay in the UK for up to a maximum of:

  • 12 months, if you’re doing work experience
  • 24 months, if you’re doing research, training or an Overseas Government Language Programme

You can also stay for the length of time on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.

If you’re looking to extend your visa then you can:

  • apply online
  • download the form and apply by post - the address is on the form
  • download the form or apply online and use the premium service at a premium service centre

You’ll need to get a biometric residence permit as part of your application. You should apply before your current visa expires.

Changing your sponsor

You must apply again and meet all the eligibility rules if you want to change your sponsor within the same organisation or move to a new organisation.

Switch to this visa

You can apply to change (‘switch’) to a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange) visa. You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility for switching

You can apply if you’re a:

  • student, whether studying, re-sitting an examination or writing a thesis
  • student union sabbatical officer
  • student nurse
  • postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • Tier 4 visa
  • sponsored researcher who came to the UK on a work permit and you want to continue in the same job with your sponsor

You must have one of the following:

  • a PGCE, PGDE, or UK bachelors or masters degree 

  • completed at least 12 months study towards a UK PhD

You must also have both of the following, whether you have the relevant qualifications or study time: 


  • a certificate of sponsorship reference number from your UK sponsor
  • £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 days before you apply, or confirmation from your sponsor that you will not claim public funds during your stay

If you wish to switch your visa then you can:

  • apply online
  • download the form and apply by post - the address is on the form
  • download the form or apply online and use the premium service at a premium service centre

You’ll need to get a biometric residence permit as part of your application.

Family members

Your family members (‘dependants’) must apply to join or remain with you in the UK if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

  • your partner
  • your child under 18
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant

Savings to prove that you can support your dependents

You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.

Each dependant must have £630 available to them whether they apply with you or separately. This is in addition to the £945 you must have to support yourself.  You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

If your dependants applying outside the UK then your family members must apply online. They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of their application.

If your dependants are applying in the UK then they can apply online.  You can also apply using the dependant application form.  It’s best to send your dependant’s application at the same time as yours but they can apply at a later date, either by post or in person at a premium service centre.

Please be aware that members of your family can’t apply in the UK as your dependant if they hold a visitor visa.

What you can and can’t do

You can:

  • work in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
  • do a second job for up to 20 hours per week
  • do a job on the Tier 2 shortage occupation list for up to 20 hours per week as well as your main job
  • apply to change (‘switch’) into a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa if you’re in the government authorised exchange scheme for sponsored researchers
  • bring family members with you

You can’t:

  • take a permanent job
  • get public funds