Tier 5 (GAE) for recent graduates


Tier 5 (GAE) visa requirements

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) category “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.” In practice, as a Higher Education Institution, we are permitted to use Tier 5 (GAE) for the following types of roles:

  • Sponsored researchers

Broadly defined as: “a person who wishes to come to the UK to lead or to take part in any formal research project. Formal research projects are those hosted but not necessarily funded by a UK research institution including universities, non-commercial research organisations, charitable organisations and national research councils (such as the Medical Research Council). The sponsored researcher fills a research post and works under the full or partial control of the institution, which will itself benefit from the research. Sponsored researchers can be funded from sources in the UK.

  • Visiting academics

Only those who are giving lectures, acting as an examiner or working on a supernumerary research collaboration will qualify under this category.

  • Internship/Work Experience

Tier 5 (GAE) can also be used by individuals looking for an internship or period of temporary work experience in the UK. However, for these types of roles, the University of Cambridge cannot be the sponsor.

CoS application procedure

Any indivdual 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

  • 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 their stay whilst they are at the University of Cambridge. The letter should include details on the dates for their stay and the total amount of funds they will receive.

For employees, these must be sent to the HR New Appointment Team with the new appointment paperwork. For visitors, these can be sent directly to the HR Compliance Team. Upon receipt, the Compliance Team will apply for a CoS via the Home Office and, once issued, will pass the CoS reference number to the institution. Institutions are sent further instructions and asked to pass the number on to the individual concerned, who can then apply for entry clearance.

Individuals cannot apply for their visa more than 3 months before the CoS start date. However, the CoS must be used within 3 months of being assigned.

Applying for a visa

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 swtich to Tier 5 (GAE) but only if they are to undertake a period of internship or 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 follows:

  • 30 pointsfor 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/salary received meetsnational minimum wage requirements.
  • The work is skilled to at least level 3 on theNational Qualification Framework.
  • 10 pointsfor meeting the UKVI maintenance criteria.

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

Sponsor duties

To hold a sponsor licence, the University must adhere to the required record keeping and reporting duties. These duties apply equally to individuals sponsored under Tier 5 (GAE), even if they are not University employees. These duties include:

  • Reporting late arrivals to the UKVI
  • Keeping a record of the individual’s contact details while in UK.
  • Keeping a record of the individual’s absences
  • Reporting unauthorised absence to UKVI
  • Reporting when an individual finishes work before the CoS end date

The HR Immigration webpages prove further guidance on the required record keeping and reporting duties.

Before an individual who is sponsored under Tier 5 starts work, institutions must tell them about their responsibilities under the points-based system. A sample letter is below; institutions might like to tailor this to fit better with local arrangements. The Compliance Team is available to give advice on this if necessary.

  • Departmental letter to sponsored individual

Family Members

Visitors’ dependants are allowed to work if they are accompanying or joining them in the UK provided they have the correct visa to do so. See the section on dependant visas for further guidance.

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