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Tier 5

Government Authorised Exchange

Tier 5 may be a useful option for someone wanting to undertake professional training that is not possible to do under Tier 2. A relevant sector body can seek to establish a dedicated scheme within Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange). This Government Authorised Exchange is for applicants coming to the UK 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 UK. This category cannot be used to fill job vacancies or provide a way to bring unskilled labour to the UK.

Leave under this category is granted for a maximum of 2 years. The application must be made overseas and applicants need to be sponsored by a Tier 5 licensed sponsor and must show evidence that they have a level of maintenance funds.

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Youth Mobility Scheme

This is aimed at those applicants who are more than 18 years old but less than 30 years old at the time of applying, to enable them to come to the UK to work for 2 years. You can apply for a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa if you’re from:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Korea
  • Taiwan

You can also apply if you’re 18 to 30 and a:

You can’t apply if you have:

  • children who live with you
  • children you’re financially responsible for
  • already been in the UK under the scheme or in the former ‘working holidaymaker’ category

There is no limit on the number of hours you can spend working under this category. It is also possible to undertake self-funded study on this type of visa.

Sponsored Researcher Scheme

The Tier 5 (Sponsored Researcher) Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) scheme enables researchers, including academics, researchers, scientists, research engineers or other skilled research technology specialists, to come to the UK on a temporary basis, where they are hosted at a UK higher education institution (HEI).

Scheme Criteria

The HEI, as a Tier 5 Sponsor is able to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to researchers (which includes academics, researchers, scientists, research engineers or other skilled research technology specialists) for a maximum duration of 2 years to undertake the following activities:

  • A formal research project or collaboration
  • A period of work-based training/work experience/internship/placement;
  • Skill development/knowledge transfer;
  • A series of lectures, which doesn’t amount to a formal teaching post;
  • External examinations.

The researcher may be funded by their host, their overseas employer, or an independent UK or non-UK funding body. The researcher cannot be self-funded and must be in receipt of funding in line with, or above, the National Minimum Wage.

The researcher does not have to be employed overseas to be eligible for sponsorship under this scheme, and if necessary, it is permitted for the host to issue an employment contract to the researcher, provided the activity does not amount to a genuine vacancy, as below.

The work or activities undertaken must never amount to what the Home Office terms ‘a genuine vacancy’. In accordance with the Home Office rules, the role must be over and above the organisation’s normal staffing requirements and would not be automatically refilled once the post holder leaves

Roles are not normally advertised and recruited in the conventional way (although work experience, internships and other placements may be subject to a degree of competition to ensure equality of opportunity – for example Newton Fund, Rutherford Fund, Global Challenge Research Fund, European Molecular Biology Organisation or similarly funded projects)

Any work or activity undertaken within the scheme must be at or above RQF level 3, or the equivalent in Scotland.

Migrants sponsored under Tier 5 may do courses of study; however, any study undertaken cannot interfere with the purpose of the engagement, as defined on their CoS, and must be ancillary.