Tier 5. Temporary Workers - Government Authorised Exchange

Tier 5 of the points-based system enables young overseas nationals to experience life and culture in the UK and also permits workers to undertake short term or temporary employment in the UK.

Tier 5  replaced the following  immigration categories:

  • Au pairs
  • Domestic workers in Diplomatic Households
  • Gap year
  • China Graduate Work Experience
  • General Agreement on Trade in services (GATS)
  • Japan: Youth Exchange Scheme
  • MP’s Research Assistants
  • Ministers of religion, missionaries and members of religious orders
  • Overseas government employees
  • Sportspeople
  • Training and Work Experience Scheme
  • Voluntary workers
  • Working holidaymakers

Tier 5 consists of two main categories under the points based system; the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) and  Tier 5 (Temporary Workers), which is made up of five sub-categories, as follows:


Tier 5 (Temporary Workers)

The Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) scheme provides individuals with the opportunity to come to the UK with a job offer for a specific purpose or for  temporary/short term employment. The scheme consists of five subcategories across a range of different industries.

All applicants will be required to have both a sponsor and a valid ‘certificate of sponsorship’ before applying for leave to be employed under this scheme. This certificate of sponsorship is designed to act as a declaration that the applicant is able to take on a particular job and has the intention to do so.

All applicants applying under this scheme will require prior entry clearance, except  for  non-visa nationals intending to come to the UK for a period of 3 months or less in the “Creative and Sporting” subcategory.

Each Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) subcategory is explained below  as an individual category.

Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) – Government Authorised Exchange

This scheme provides individuals with the opportunity to come to the UK temporarily through approved schemes. These individual schemes are designed to share knowledge, experience and work practice through placements in the UK. This category is not to be used to fill job vacancies or provide a route for unskilled labour force to come to the UK.

A new category for Mathematics Teacher Exchange will be added to this scheme from 1 August 2014. This category allows mathematics teachers from China to support the teaching and learning of mathematics in England. Mathematic teachers from England will also be able to teach under a similar arrangement in schools in China. The aim is to allow for teachers of mathematics to share good practices about the subject of maths across England and China. The stay is restricted to 12 months in the UK.

The Immigration Rules have recently changed to allow selective switching for students in Tier 4 who have completed degrees in the UK to undertake corporate internships which directly relate to their degrees. These internships will take place in the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange sub-category. This change is being made in response to representations from businesses that such a change will make it easier to recruit graduates with specialist skills for internships with a view to offering them a permanent position in the future. As with any work experience scheme in this subcategory, roles must be supernumerary and stay is restricted to 12 months. Switching into Tier 2 at the end of the internship is not permitted.

The Home Office will now check that applicants are genuine and that they intend to meet the conditions of the leave they apply for.

A. Requirements

The applicant will be required to enter the UK solely to work or train temporarily in the UK through an approved exchange scheme. The applicant cannot establish a business in the UK and will be expected to meet the requirements of the individual exchange scheme they are attached to. All work undertaken by the applicant under this scheme must be skilled work which is deemed to be the equivalent of N/SVQ Level 3 or higher.

There will a main body to manage this scheme and act as sponsor for applicants. Individual employers and organisations are not permitted to sponsor applicants even if they are licensed as sponsors under the points based system.

The main body (sponsor) will be required to have the support of a UK government department and will be issuing the certificates of sponsorship to applicants meeting the requirements under this scheme.

All applicants will need to score a total of 40 points for the above criteria, which is detailed in the next section.

B. Points Assessment

Applicants will need to satisfy a points test and maintenance requirement under this scheme. A total score of 40 points is required in order for applicants to successfully submit an application for the Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) scheme.

Points are awarded under the following heads:

(i.) Certificate of Sponsorship – 30 points
To score points under this section, it is mandatory that applicants are in possession of a valid certificate of sponsorship issued by their sponsor.

(ii) Maintenance (Funds) – 10 points
To score points under this section, applicants will need to prove that that they have sufficient funding to support themselves for the duration of their stay in the UK.

The requirement is to demonstrate either/or the following:

  • At least £945 of personal savings in applicants’ own bank account for at least 3 months prior to the date of the application plus £630 for each dependant; OR
  • An A-rated sponsor guarantees the applicant’s maintenance on the certificate of sponsorship. (Please note that the sponsor is unable to certify maintenance for any accompanying dependants).

C. Visa Validity and Extension

Applicants successful under  Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) will be granted Entry Clearance valid for a maximum period of 24 months; or a shorter period if this is specified in the certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days.

Applicants can only apply for an extension of their visa up to the maximum period of 24 months or if shorter, the time specified in the certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days,

D. Switching

Only a sports or entertainer visitor is entitled to apply to switch into the Tier 5 (Temporary worker) Creative and Sporting subcategory, provided they have a valid certificate of sponsorship issued to them before entering the UK.

No applicants from other Tiers of the points based system are entitled to switch into the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker). In the same way, applicants from Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) cannot switch into other Tiers. The Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) route does not lead to settlement in the UK nor does it offer applicants the opportunity to switch into any other work or study category.

No switching is permitted between the subcategories of Tier 5 (Temporary Worker).

E. Applying for Entry Clearance

Applicants are required to obtain prior for Entry Clearance under the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) before entering the UK under this scheme. Applicants can apply for Entry Clearance from their home country or legal country of residence.

F. What other work is allowed under Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Government Authorised Exchange Scheme

Applicants under this category are able to work on short term contracts; or participate in/ perform at specific engagements relevant to their role and specified in their certificate of sponsorship.

In addition, applicants under this category are able to undertake supplementary employment providing the work is in the same sector, and for no more than 20 hours per week. The work must be at the same level as declared on the certificate of sponsorship and must be outside of normal working hours. The applicant is obliged to continue to work for their original sponsor.

The applicant is not permitted to work in any other employment which fails to satisfy the above criteria.

G. Change of Employment

Applicants who have previously obtained permission to enter or remain in the UK may be able to apply for a “change of employment”. This is on the basis that that the applicant intends to vary their leave in the UK because they have changed employment either within the same organisation or with a new organization within the same sector.

The employment will need to be with a licensed sponsor and the applicant is required to obtain a new certificate of sponsorship and again satisfy the all important maintenance requirement.

You are advised to seek professional legal advice if you wish to change your employment whilst in the UK.

H. Dependants of Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) 

Dependant of those applying to enter as Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) migrants will be able to accompany the main applicant to the UK as long as there is evidence of at least £630 in available funds to maintain each dependant.


To discuss your visa application contact with one of our immigration lawyers by phone 
+44 (0) 207 907 1460 (London),
+7 495 933 7299 (Moscow), 
+971 509 265 140 (Dubai)
or complete our enquiry format on the top of the site

Administrative Review (Entry Clearance applications)

Applicants who have their applications refused under the points based system are entitled to have the decision reviewed free of charge.

Individuals who wish to exercise their right for an Administrative Review will have to make this request within 28 days of the date of receipt of the refusal notice. The applicant is not entitled to send any additional documents or fresh evidence with the review request. Finally, applicants will only be entitled to request ONE review request per refusal decision.


Right of Appeal

Applicants who apply under this scheme will only have a limited right of appeal. We therefore advise that applicants seek legal advice on the procedure for appealing.


 What services we can offer?

  • We can advise on the procedure of making the Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) application in line with the sponsorship certificate
  • We can assess the job and the applicant`s details and advise on the likelihood of the applicant being sponsored under Tier 5  (Temporary Workers)
  • We can advise and represent our clients in making their leave to remain/entry clearance applications in line with the certificate of sponsorship
  • We can advise and represent our clients’ dependants to seek dependant visas in line with the visa of the main applicant.
  • We can offer a Super Premium Service where the Home Office will visit the applicants in order to process the applications within 24 hours (for further leave to remain only).
  • We can lodge an appeal (in-country only) or make a request for an administrative review if the applicant`s application is refused for some reason
  • We can advise in making applications for indefinite leave to remain for those who have already completed the five years’ qualifying period in the UK
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