The United Kingdom welcomes people from around the world to undertake short-term work, research, and study placements through the T5 Government Authorised Exchange visa.
The Government Authorised Exchange visa is one of a number of temporary worker routes now available under the UK immigration rules. Prior to UK immigration reforms in 2020, the route was previously known as the Tier 5, or Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) Visa.
It is one of the more flexible immigration routes that allows individuals to experience life in the UK for a limited period of time, but comes with strict rules on eligibility, permissible activities and application process.
What is the T5 route?
The T5 (Temporary Worker) routes of the Immigration Rules allow eligible individuals to enter or remain in the UK on a short-term basis to carry out specific work activities. The T5 route comprises the following categories:
- Creative Worker
- Religious Worker
- International Agreement Worker
- Seasonal Worker
- Youth Mobility Scheme
- Government Authorised Exchange Worker
This guide focuses on the Government Authorised Exchange Worker route, which allows individuals to gain work experience or research and training experience through a sponsoring UK organisation. It is a temporary visa route that only allows you to work, research, or train for a specified period. You must remain under the sponsorship of your organisation throughout the visa.
What activities are permissible under a T5 Government Authorised Exchange visa?
The Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) Visa allows for specific activities throughout your visa.
You can do the following activities:
- You can work in your eligible job
- You can study at a university or college whilst in your job
- You can work in a second job for a maximum of 20 hours per week
- You can work in a job on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list for a maximum of 20 hours a week
- You can bring your spouse/partner and children as dependants if they meet eligibility criteria
- If you are working as a sponsored researcher, you can apply to switch to a Global Talent Visa
The visa does not allow for the following activities:
- You cannot apply for most benefits, also known as Public Funds
- You cannot begin a permanent job
How does the T5 Visa differ from the Skilled Worker Visa?
The T5 Visa differs from the temporary Skilled Worker visa insofar that it is a temporary immigration category that does not lead directly to indefinite leave to remain or citizenship. As such, the T5 route is not intended for individuals hoping to stay in the UK long-term. You cannot stay in the UK for longer than 12 months for individuals undertaking work experience or 24 months for individuals undertaking an Overseas Government Language Programme. research, or training.
Which employers can sponsor a T5 Visa?
To apply for a Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) Visa, you must be sponsored by an eligible company or organisation.
In general, sponsors include UK higher education institutions, government agencies and departments, and organisations that run an approved exchange scheme.
The following schemes are eligible for this visa route:
Overseas Government language programmes:
- Hanban: Mandarin teachers scheme – Sponsored by Hanban UK Ltd
Research and training programmes:
- BAE Systems Training, Intern and Graduate Programme – Sponsored by BAE Systems
- BNSC Satellite KHTT Programme – Sponsored by British National Space Centre (DBIS)
- Chatham House Fellowship – Sponsored by The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House)
- Chevening and Marshall Sherfield Fellowships Programmes – Sponsored by Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)
- Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan – Sponsored by Association of Commonwealth Universities
- Defence Academy – Sponsored by Defence Academy
- Finance Ministries and Central Banks schemes – Sponsored by HM Treasury
- International Fire and Rescue Training Scheme – Sponsored by Capita
- International Optometrists Scheme – Sponsored by College of Optometrists
- Medical Training Initiative – Sponsored by Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
- Medical Training Initiative for Dentistry – Sponsored by The Royal College of Surgeons of England
- NPL Guest Worker and Secondment Scheme – Sponsored by National Physical Laboratory (NPL) Management Limited
- Overseas Fellows Post – Sponsored by National Health Service (NHS) Highland
- Sponsored Researchers – Sponsored by UK Higher Education institutions
- UK Research and Innovation: Science, Research and Academia – Sponsored by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and organisations endorsed by UKRI, including the following:
- Armagh Observatory and Planetarium
- Babraham Institute
- British Institute of International and Comparative Law
- Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
- Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and UK Atomic Energy Authority
- Diamond Light Source Ltd
- Earlham Institute
- H R Wallingford Ltd
- Historic Royal Palaces
- Institute for Fiscal Studies
- Institute of Development Studies
- Institute of Occupational Medicine
- International Institute for Environment and Development
- John Innes Centre
- Kew Gardens
- National Centre for Social Research
- National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB)
- National Museums of Scotland
- National Oceanography Centre
- Natural History Museum
- Overseas Development Institute
- Plymouth Marine Laboratory
- Quadram Institute Bioscience
- Rothamsted Research
- Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
- Science Museum Group
- Scottish Association for Marine Science
- The Alan Turing Institute
- The British Library
- The British Museum
- The Faraday Institution
- The Francis Crick Institute
- The James Hutton Institute
- The National Archives
- The Pirbright Institute
- The Sainsbury’s Laboratory, Norwich
- The Trustees of the Tate Gallery
- The Welding Institute
- The Victoria and Albert Museum
- Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
- US-UK Education Commission (US-UK Fulbright Commission) – Sponsored by US-UK Education Commission (US-UK Fulbright Commission)
Work experience programmes:
- AIESEC internships – Sponsored by AIESEC
- Bar Council – Sponsored by Bar Council
- British Council Tech Trainees business internships – Sponsored by British Council
- British Council ‘Speak European’ – Sponsored by British Council
- BUNAC Blue Card internships ‘Intern in Britain’ – Sponsored by BUNAC
- Cabinet Office Interchange Programme – Sponsored by Cabinet Office
- Commonwealth Exchange Programme – Sponsored by Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council (CYEC)
- De La Rue Internship – Sponsored by De La Rue International
- Engineering work placement scheme – Sponsored by Twin Training International
- Erasmus – Sponsored by British Council, British Council Wales, British Council Scotland, and British Council Northern Ireland
- European Voluntary Service (Youth in Action Programme) – Sponsored by British Council
- Food Standards Australia and New Zealand – Sponsored by Food Standards Agency
- Foreign Language Assistants Programme – Sponsored by British Council, British Council Wales, British Council Scotland, and British Council Northern Ireland
- Glasgow Caledonian University International exchange programme – Sponsored by Glasgow Caledonian University
- Grundtvig – Sponsored by Ecorys UK Ltd
- Highways Agency Scheme – Sponsored by Highways Agency
- HMRC Exchange Scheme – Sponsored by HM Revenue & Customs
- IAESTE – Sponsored by British Council, British Council Wales, British Council Scotland, and British Council Northern Ireland
- Intensive Korean Public School English Teacher Training Programme – Sponsored by University of Chichester
- International Cross-Posting Programme for Kazakhstan – Sponsored by UK Trade & Investment
- International Defence and Security Scheme (IDSS) – Sponsored by ADS Group
- International Horticulture Scheme – Sponsored by Lantra
- International Internship Scheme – Sponsored by Fragomen LLP
- Jamaica Nursing Exchange – Sponsored by Health Education England
- Jiangsu Centre for Chinese Studies in Essex – Sponsored by Essex County Council
- Khebrat Leadership for Change Programme – Sponsored by British Council
- Korean Teacher Exchange Programme – Sponsored by Insitute of Education, University of London
- Law Society Tier 5 scheme for migrant lawyers – Sponsored by The Law Society of England and Wales
- Leonardo da Vinci – Sponsored by Ecorys Ltd
- Lord Chancellor’s Training Scheme for Young Chinese Lawyers – Sponsored by British Council
- Mathematics Teacher Exchange Programme (England – China) – Sponsored by National College for Teaching and Leadership, Department for Education
- Mountbatten Programme – Sponsored by Mountbatten Institute
- National Assembly for Wals Intern Programme – Sponsored by National Assembly for Wales
- NIM China Secondee Programme – Sponsored by LGC Ltd
- REX Programme – Sponsored by Ceredigion County Council
- Scottish Government Interchange Scheme – Sponsored by Scottish Government
- Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC) Work Exchange Programme with China – Sponsored by Scottish
- Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC)
- Serious Fraud Office – Sponsored by Serious Fraud Office
- The Ofgem International Staff Exchange Scheme – Sponsored by Office of Gas & Electricity Markets (Ofgem)
- Tier 5 interns scheme – Sponsored by GTI Recruiting Solutions
- Wales Audit Office Exchange Programme – Sponsored by Wales Audit Office
- Welsh Language Teaching Training Programme in Patagonia – Sponsored by British Council Wales
This list is subject to changes, so please consult the UK Visas and Immigration website for updated results if needed.
T5 visa application requirements
To apply for the UK Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) Visa, you will need to meet several requirements. You will need to demonstrate that you are:
- Sponsored by a UK company or organisation by providing a Certificate of Sponsorship reference number from the UK sponsor.
- Financially stable and have enough money to support yourself whilst in the UK. For most people, this will amount to at least £1,270 available in your bank account, unless your employer can support you instead.
If you are switching to the Tier 5 Visa from another visa category, you must have recently completed a UK university degree and fall under one of the following categories:
- Sponsored researcher who came to the UK on a sponsored work visa and wants to remain with the same job under the same sponsor
- Student union sabbatical officer
- Student visa holder
- Postgraduate dentist or doctor
- Student nurse
Tier 5 Visa application process
The application process will depend on whether you are applying for entry clearance from overseas, or if you are already in the UK and are applying to switch into the T5 route.
Applying from overseas
You will submit your application online from either your home country or a country where you have current immigration permission at the point of application. At the end of the application, you will be required to pay the full cost of the IHS fee of £624 per year of your visa and the application fee of £244 per person. If you are from an EU country, your application fee will be £189. After paying the IHS fee, you will receive an IHS number to input into the online application before finalising your details.
After submitting your online visa application, you will be required to arrange a biometrics appointment at a visa application centre of your choice. You must choose a visa application centre in the country where you submitted your online visa application. You will need to make arrangements for your supporting documentation prior to this appointment through one of two options. You can choose to upload all supporting documentation to the relevant third-party processing website (VFS or TLS, depending on your country of application) prior to your appointment. Alternatively, you can choose to pay an additional to bring all supporting documentation in hard-copy to your biometrics appointment. If you opt for this service, a VFS or TLS employee will scan and upload each supporting document.
At your biometrics appointment, you will need to bring your passport, appointment confirmation email, and any required supporting documentation if you have paid for scanning services at the visa application centre. Your fingerprints and signature will be recorded by a VFS or TLS employee and your photograph will be taken. Your supporting documentation will be confirmed prior to submission to UK Visas and Immigration. Finally, you will likely be required to submit your passport to the UK government for an entry clearance sticker to be applied on a full blank page.
You will generally receive a decision within 3 weeks after this appointment, though you may have been able to pay to receive expedited visa processing at the online application stage. If your visa is approved, you will be issued with an entry clearance sticker applied to your passport. This sticker will allow you to travel to the UK and will note the first date you are permitted to enter the country. Once you arrive in the UK, you will be required to retrieve your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which will serve as your official visa for the duration of your time in the country. Your BRP can be sent to your UK mailing address or delivered to a local UK Post Office location.
You will submit your application online from the UK. At the end of the application, you will be required to pay the full cost of the IHS fee of £624 per year of your visa and the application fee of £244 per person. If you are from an EU country, your application fee will be £189. After paying the IHS fee, you will receive an IHS number to input into the online application before finalising your details.
After submitting your online visa application, you will be required to arrange a biometrics appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service centre at a location of your choice throughout the country. Some applicants may be able to use a mobile phone application rather than attending this in-person appointment; you will be contacted directly if this applies to your application. You will be required to pay £19.20 to register your biometrics at a UKVCAS service centre. You will need to make arrangements for your supporting documentation prior to this appointment through one of two options. You can choose to upload all supporting documentation to the UKVCAS website prior to your appointment. Alternatively, you can choose to pay an additional to bring all supporting documentation in hard-copy to your biometrics appointment. If you opt for this service, a UKVCAS employee will scan and upload each supporting document.
At your biometrics appointment, you will need to bring your passport, appointment confirmation email, and any required supporting documentation if you have paid for scanning services at the UKVCAS service centre. Your fingerprints and signature will be recorded by a UKVCAS employee and your photograph will be taken. Your supporting documentation will be confirmed prior to submission to UK Visas and Immigration.
You will generally receive a decision on your visa application within 8 weeks, though you may have been able to pay to receive expedited visa processing at the online application stage. If your visa application is approved, you will receive an official Home Office decision email or decision letter. Your new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) will then be sent to your UK mailing address.
How much does a T5 Visa cost?
The application fee for the UK Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) Visa is £244 per person.
If you are from an EU country, your application fee will be reduced by £55. You will additionally be required to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This amount will differ depending on how long you will be in the UK. In general, this will cost £624 per year of your visa.
Can I bring my dependants to the UK with a Tier 5 Visa?
You may be able to bring dependants to the UK on a Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) Visa. Their immigration status is tied to your immigration permission throughout the duration of your visa. Dependants fall under the following categories of family members:
- A wife, husband, civil partner, or unmarried partner
- A child under the age of 18
- A child over the age of 18, if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant
You will first need to submit your own visa application. You will be required to provide supporting documentation evidence of your relationship with each dependant family member who intends to come with you to the UK. Additionally, you will be required to provide additional evidence of funds to demonstrate that you are financially stable and can support your family members. This will be in addition to the £1,270 in savings required for your own application. You, your spouse/partner, or your child will be required to demonstrate evidence of the following monetary amounts for the past 28 day period prior to submitting your online application:
- Spouse or partner: £285
- First child: £315
- Additional children: £200
Finally, each dependant family member will be required to submit a separate visa application. They will also be required to pay the £244 application fee per person. They will be required to include the Unique Application Number provided after submission of your visa application in their online visa application.
T5 Temporary Worker visa FAQs
What is a Tier 5 Visa?
The Tier 5 Visa route allows individuals to gain concrete work experience or research and training experience through a sponsoring UK organisation. This is a temporary visa route that only allows you to work, research, or train for a specified period.
What are the rules for a UK Tier 5 Visa?
The Tier 5 Visa requires that individuals gain sponsorship through an eligible UK company or organisation, Higher Education institute, or government department or agency. You must remain with this sponsor throughout your visa and be able to financially support yourself whilst in the UK. You cannot access public funds.
Who can work on a Tier 5 Visa?
Individuals who have sponsorship can work on a Tier 5 Visa. You can work an additional 20 hours a week in a second job throughout your visa.
What is the difference between a Tier 2 Visa and a Tier 5 Visa?
The Tier 5 Visa differs from the Skilled Worker (previously known as the Tier 2 Visa) insofar that it is a temporary immigration category that does not lead to permanent residence or citizenship. It is not intended for individuals hoping to stay in the UK long-term.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.