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Personal Immigration

Graduate Internship Visa

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Graduate Internship Visa

The graduate Internship scheme in the UK is administered under Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) programme and is for International Graduates coming or remaining in the UK to undertake work experience, share knowledge and best practice and experience the social and cultural life in the UK. 

The Tier 5 GAE visa is normally granted for 12 months and extendable up to a maximum of two years in the UK, depending on the scheme chosen. This route allows individuals to gain valuable professional and life experience and employers to hire the brightest candidates from overseas, see their performance and hire them permanently after. This route remained the most popular post study work experience option available to International Graduates prior to the UK government’s re-introduction of the graduate immigration route.

Tier 5 GAE Internship visa requirements

Under the Tier 5 GAE scheme, the government has approved various schemes managed by an Overarching body who act as the sponsor and issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) for individuals who meet the eligibility criteria.The criteria for each scheme varies; but some general requirements commonly seen in post study internship schemes are set out below.

  • Maximum duration of the placement must not last longer than 12 months.
  • The intern must either hold a degree, or be studying towards a degree equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • The internship role must be supernumerary and must not fit into a Tier 2 (General) occupation category; thereby not affecting the UK Resident Labour Market.
  • The internship offered must be a full time placement and the conditions of Employment in line with The National Minimum Wage Act and all other applicable legislation.
  • The intern must be above 18 years of age.
  • The Employer must be a UK Registered Company, Charity, and Government Department.
  • Any work that the Intern undertakes must be at a skill level of NVQ Level 3 or above.
  • The Employer offering the internship must have the financial and personnel resources to support and supervise the Intern throughout the period of their internship.This program is not open to employers in the Agriculture,Hospitality or Care sector.

International students studying in the UK who completed a degree in their last grant of leave will be eligible to switch from within the UK if the Internship being undertaken is directly related to the degree completed. In addition to this, the applicants also would need to meet the maintenance requirements of having £945 in savings for 90 days prior to the application. This requirement can also be met, if the applicant’s ‘A’ rated sponsor certifies the maintenance.

What is the Process?

The applicants must have an offer of internship from a UK company. We will assess initially whether the Internship meets the requirements and if so, which scheme it fits best in. We will then recommend the sponsor/scheme the employer must register with based on the circumstances. We can then work with the employer and applicant to complete the Employer’s GAE registration process with the overarching sponsor. 

Upon successful Employer Registration, if necessary we will assist the employer/intern in making the request for the certificate of sponsorship and then submitting the Tier 5 GAE application.

How can we assist?

Our Immigration lawyers at City Legal have immense experience in assisting international graduates & their employers in registering for the GAE programme. At City Legal, we work with numerous overarching sponsors and can assure a smooth, fast and efficient process. We are a multi award winning law firm and pride ourselves in being approachable, innovative and always going that extra mile to make sure our clients receive the individual attention they deserve. Our Immigration team maintains a high reputation and is committed to provide clear, transparent and reliable advice to our clients.

Frequently Asked Questions
The GAE registration process turnaround time depends on the overarching sponsors and their process. The quickest sponsor we have dealt with takes two to five working days. Upon the registration and CoS, the individuals would need to make a visa application and processing time for a normal route is 8 weeks. Priority options are also available at additional cost.
Tier 5 GAE visa holders are permitted to study, work in the job described in the CoS, do a supplementary job of upto 20 hours in the same profession or a job listed in the shortage occupation list and bring family members. However, access to public funds or taking a permanent job within the UK is prohibited.

Tier 5 GAE visa can be extended up to a maximum period of 24 months; but this would also depend on the scheme that the applicant originally applied for. The time spent on Tier 5 GAE can only be counted for 10 year long residence settlement and applicants are normally expected to leave the UK at the end of their internship. Tier 5 GAE holders on an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers may switch to Global Talent visa within the UK.

The UK Home Office has set out the approved programmes under Appendix N of the Immigration Rules. Each of those schemes are managed by an overarching sponsor. Under the GAE, a sponsor could be an organisation running an approved exchange scheme, a higher education institution (for sponsored researcher, visiting academic or examiner) or a government department or agency. As such, it is not always the employer that may be the sponsor and this is permitted under the rules.

Dependant family members like spouse or partner and children under 18 years of age are permitted under Tier 5 GAE route. They have to meet relationship and maintenance requirements and are permitted to work, study and carry out business activities in the UK.
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