Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors: sponsor a Government Authorised Exchange Worker (accessible version) – GOV.UK

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Updated 11 April 2022

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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/workers-and-temporary-workers-guidance-for-sponsors-sponsor-a-government-authorised-exchange-worker/workers-and-temporary-workers-guidance-for-sponsors-sponsor-a-government-authorised-exchange-worker-accessible-version
This document forms part of the collection ‘Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors’. It provides information for employers on how to sponsor a worker on the Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) immigration route.
This version of the guidance is valid from 11 April 2022.
This document provides information for employers on how to sponsor a worker on the Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange route (‘GAE route’)
The GAE route is for people who want to come to the UK for a temporary period for work experience, job shadowing or training, to take part in an Overseas Government Language Programme, or undertake research or a fellowship through an approved exchange scheme. GAE workers can stay in the UK for up to two years – the maximum period depends on the scheme under which they are being sponsored.
This route was known as the ‘T5 (Temporary Worker) Government Authorised Exchange Worker’ route before 11 October 2021.
For previous versions of the Rules, see the Immigration Rules Archive on GOV.UK.
To make sure you meet all of the relevant requirements and fulfil your sponsorship duties, you must read the following parts of the sponsor guidance, in addition to this document:
You can access all of these documents, and other information on sponsorship, on the Sponsorship: guidance for employers and educators page on GOV.UK.
This guidance is subject to change. If you have printed or downloaded a copy of this guidance, check the version number and date on GOV.UK to ensure you are using the most up-to-date version.
There is a glossary of terms used throughout the sponsor guidance (including this document) at the beginning of Part 1: Apply for a licence.
Terms used in this document:
This means the route in Appendix Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange to the Immigration Rules. Where the context requires it, it can also refer to:
You can find previous versions of the Immigration Rules in the Immigration Rules Archive on GOV.UK.
This means a person who is applying for, or has been granted, entry clearance or permission to stay on the GAE route; or who you are sponsoring, or intend to sponsor, on this route.
If you think this guidance has factual errors or broken links, you can email the Business Helpdesk.
If you have read this guidance, and the guidance referred to above, and you still have any queries, you can call us on 0300 123 4699 or email the Business Helpdesk.
Below is information on the version number of this guidance and when it was cleared for publication:
This version replaces version 02/22. The following changes have been made:
This section provides an overview of the Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) route and the sponsorship requirements you must meet.
GA1.1. The GAE route is a temporary work route for people who wish to come to the UK through an approved scheme that aims to share knowledge, experience and best practice. Each scheme fits into one of the following four types of programme:
GA1.2. The individual scheme must be listed as eligible in Appendix Government Authorised Exchange schemes. The role must be listed in either Table 1 or Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations.
GA1.3. GAE workers can stay in the UK for a maximum of 12 months if coming for a scheme on the Work Experience Programme (unless a shorter maximum period is specified in Appendix Government Authorised Exchange schemes), or a maximum of 2 years in all other cases. It is not a route to settlement in the UK.
GA1.4. GAE Workers can bring their family members (dependent partner and dependent children) to the UK, if they meet the relevant immigration requirements for dependants.
GA1.5. You will need to sponsor any overseas national you wish to employ if they are not a ‘settled worker’ or do not otherwise have immigration permission to work for you in the UK. This includes most EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.
GA1.6. You do not have to sponsor certain categories of worker, including:
GA1.7. This is not a complete list. For further information on who does, and does not, need sponsorship, see section S1 of Part 2: Sponsor a worker.
GA1.8. If you wish to sponsor a GAE worker, you must:
This section tells you about the requirements you must meet to be eligible for Government Authorised Exchange Worker (GAE) sponsor licence.
GA2.1. If you wish to sponsor a GAE worker, you must hold a valid Temporary Worker sponsor licence for the GAE route. If you do not already hold such a licence, you must apply for one by completing the online application form, paying the relevant application fee, and submitting the supporting evidence specified in Appendix A to the sponsor guidance.
GA2.2. Before applying for your licence, you should read:
GA2.3. If you already hold a sponsor licence and it’s due to expire within the next 90 days, you should apply now to renew it. See section C5 of Part 3: Sponsor duties and compliance for guidance on renewing your licence.
GA2.4. In addition to the requirements set out in Part 1: Apply for a licence, you must also meet the requirements set out in this section.
GA2.5. The GAE route is for individuals coming to the UK through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice. The approved schemes are listed in Appendix Government Authorised Exchange schemes to the Immigration Rules. The underlying principles of these schemes are that they:
GA2.6. To stop potential abuse of this route and the creation of small, isolated schemes, individual employers and organisations are not allowed to sponsor workers on this route, even if they are licensed as a sponsor on other routes. The only exceptions to this are where you are:
a Higher Education Institution (HEI), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), or an organisation endorsed by UKRI in their Science, Research and Academia programme, and are recruiting a:
a government department or one of its executive agencies
GA2.7. Apart from the above exceptions, the sponsor for a GAE scheme must be an overarching body which administers the exchange scheme and acts as the licensed sponsor for any workers.
GA2.8. We wish to avoid unnecessary proliferation of GAE schemes. While it remains possible to add new schemes, we will consider doing so only where there is a compelling case. We reserve the right not to agree proposals for new schemes, even where these have secured the support of another government department. In addition to meeting the requirements set out further below, we will only agree proposals for a new GAE scheme, or to the renewal of existing schemes, where:
GA2.9. If you wish to seek agreement to the introduction of a new GAE scheme, you must follow the steps set out below.
GA2.10. If you want to set up a scheme under the GAE route but cannot act as the overarching body (for example, if you want a sector-wide scheme but you represent only a small part of your sector), you may need to identify an organisation that is suitable to act as the overarching body. This organisation will need to be able to comply with the sponsorship obligations set out in this document and the wider sponsor guidance.
GA2.11. Once you have identified a suitable overarching body, that body will need to approach the relevant government department or executive agency to seek its endorsement. The overarching body may wish to consult the Home Office before it does so. It will need to provide the endorsing government department or agency with full details of the scheme. The overarching body should explain, for example:
GA2.12. It will be for the endorsing government department or executive agency to make the case to us for the introduction of a new scheme. If the government department, or one of its executive agencies, endorses the scheme, their relevant Accounting Officer must send a letter of endorsement to the Head of the Migration and Citizenship Directorate at the Home Office. In addition to the criteria above, we will need to be satisfied that:
the roles available under the scheme are listed in either Table 1 or Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations to the Immigration Rules
GA2.13. If the scheme is approved, it will be added to Appendix Government Authorised Exchange schemes in the next available update to the Immigration Rules. The Rules are routinely updated twice a year, normally in the Spring and Autumn. You cannot sponsor a worker under the scheme until it is added to Appendix Government Authorised Exchange schemes.
GA2.14. If you are granted a licence, you must comply with all of your sponsor duties to keep it. If you do not, we may take action against you, including:
For details, see Part 3: Sponsor duties and compliance.
This section provides information on the types of role that are eligible for sponsorship on the GAE route. It also describes the 4 main GAE programmes.
GA3.1. You can only sponsor a worker on the GAE route if the role they will do:
GA3.2. Eligible schemes and programmes are listed in Appendix Government Authorised Exchange schemes to the Immigration Rules. There is further information about the 4 main programmes in GA3.5. below.
GA3.3. You cannot use the GAE to bring unskilled labour to the UK. The role must be in an occupation listed in Table 1 or Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations to the Immigration Rules. These are roles which are considered to be skilled to level 3 or above on the Regulated Qualifications Framework for England or Northern Ireland (or the equivalent levels in Wales or Scotland).
GA3.4. You cannot use the GAE route to fill job vacancies. Workers sponsored on a GAE scheme are only allowed to fill supernumerary roles. This means that:
GA3.5. The subsections below describe the 4 programmes under the GAE route and the maximum period that workers can be granted permission to enter or stay in the UK.
GA3.6. These schemes offer work experience, including volunteering, job- shadowing and internships. Work exchange programmes between the UK and other countries are also included in this scheme. The aim is for participants to gain experience of work in the UK.
GA3.7. Approved schemes allow participants to take part for a maximum of 12 months (unless a shorter maximum period is specified in Appendix Government Authorised Exchange schemes).
GA3.8. These schemes allow participants to undertake research programmes and fellowships on a scientific, academic, medical, or government research project at a UK Higher Education Provider or another research institution operating under the approval of a relevant government department. The relevant government department may also offer financial sponsorship for the institution.
GA3.9. Approved schemes allow participants to take part for a maximum of 2 years.
GA3.10. These schemes are professional language training programmes that are wholly or partly funded by an overseas government, or by an organisation affiliated to an overseas government.
GA3.11. Approved schemes allow participants to take part for a maximum of 2 years.
GA3.12. These are approved schemes that offer participants either formal, practical training in the fields of science and/or medicine, or training delivered by HM Armed Forces or UK emergency services.
GA3.13. Approved schemes allow participants to take part for a maximum of 2 years.
This section tells you about the requirements applicants must meet to come to the UK on the Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) route and where you can find further information.
GA4.1. People who wish to come to the UK on the GAE route must meet the requirements in Appendix Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange to the Immigration Rules.
GA4.2. These requirements include that the applicant:
GA4.3. This is not a full list of requirements – you must refer to the relevant Immigration Rules for these.
GA4.4. If the applicant is applying for entry clearance from outside the UK, or has been in the UK for less than one year at the date of application, they must show they have enough funds to support themselves and any family members in the UK.
GA4.5. If you are an A-rated sponsor, you can certify this requirement is met when you assign a CoS to them (also known as ‘certifying maintenance’). Otherwise, the applicant must provide evidence of funds as specified in Appendix Finance to the Immigration Rules.
GA4.6. For further information, see section S7 of Part 2: Sponsor a worker.
GA4.7. When you assign a CoS on the GAE route, you must check and confirm whether the worker needs to apply for an Academic Approval Technology Scheme (ATAS) certificate from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office before they can start (or continue) working for you.
GA4.8. A GAE worker will need an ATAS certificate if all of the following are true:
GA4.9. If the worker needs an ATAS certificate, you should encourage them to apply for one as soon as possible, as they will need to include a copy of the certificate with their application for entry clearance or permission to stay. If they fail to do so, we will refuse their application and you may lose your sponsor licence (or licences).
GA4.10. For further information on the ATAS requirement, and your responsibilities in relation to it, see under ‘ATAS requirement’ in section S7 of Part 2: Sponsor a worker.
GA4.11. If the applicant has, in the 12 months before the date of application, received an award from a Government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and maintenance, they must provide written consent to their application from that Government or agency. If they do not, we will reject their application as invalid.
GA4.12. There is no minimum age requirement for this route but if the worker you wish to sponsor is aged under 18 on the date of application, they must have written consent from:
GA4.13. The written consent must confirm support for:
GA4.14. As the sponsor, you must have regard to your duty to safeguarding children if you are sponsoring any workers aged under 18 – see section L2 of Part 1: Apply for a licence for further information.
GA4.15. Applicants must apply for entry clearance (a visa) to be able to come to the UK on this route. If they arrive in the UK without the relevant visa, they will be refused entry, even if they otherwise meet the requirements.
GA4.16. Those already in the UK with permission on the GAE route can apply to extend their stay, up to the maximum period permitted by their scheme, if they meet the relevant requirements – this could be to continue in the same employment or to change employer or employment. See section S9 of Part 2 Sponsor a worker for further information.
GA4.17. Individuals in the UK on another immigration route are not generally permitted to ‘switch’ (change route) to the GAE route from within the UK. If you wish to sponsor a worker on the GAE route but they are in the UK on another immigration route, they must normally leave the UK and apply for entry clearance.
GA4.18. The only exception to this is where the individual was last granted permission as a Student (formerly Tier 4), they have completed a recognised bachelor’s or postgraduate degree and are being sponsored to undertake either:
provided, in both cases, they will not be filling a permanent vacancy and their employer does not intend to employ the worker in the UK once the training or work experience has ended.
GA4.19. If the applicant makes a successful application for entry clearance on the GAE route, they will be granted for whichever is the shorter of:
GA4.20. If the applicant makes a successful application for permission to stay on the GAE route, they will be granted permission for whichever is the shorter of:
GA4.21. You can find more information in the Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange visa section of the GOV.UK website.
GA4.22. You should also refer to sections S7 to S9 of Part 2: Sponsor a worker for further information on immigration requirements, conditions of stay, extension applications and change of employment applications.
This section tells you how to assign a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) on the Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) route.
GA5.1. If you have followed all the rules in this guidance and you wish to sponsor a worker on the GAE route, you must assign them a valid CoS, using your sponsorship management system (SMS) account.
GA5.2. Before assigning a CoS, you should satisfy yourself that the worker can meet the relevant immigration requirements.
GA5.3. You cannot assign a CoS if you’re a B-rated sponsor, unless the worker is applying for permission to stay from within the UK and you sponsored the application which led to their last grant of permission on the GAE route. In all other cases, you must have an A-rating. For information on sponsor ratings, see Part 1: Apply for a licence.
GA5.4. For detailed information on what a CoS is, and how many you can assign, see section S2 of Part 2: Sponsor a worker.
GA5.5. You can find detailed technical guidance on how to assign a CoS on GOV.UK: User manuals: sponsorship management system (SMS) – see in particular manual 8.
GA5.6. You must pay a fee for each CoS you assign – see the ‘UK visa fees’ page on GOV.UK for information on current fee levels.
GA5.7. Once you have assigned a CoS, the worker must use it within 3 months to apply for:
GA5.8. If the CoS was assigned more than 3 months before the date of application, we may reject the worker’s application and not consider it.
GA5.9. The worker must not apply for entry clearance or permission to stay more than 3 months before the start date recorded on their CoS. If they do, we will refuse their application.
GA5.10. We will also refuse the application if the CoS:
GA5.11. For a CoS to be valid, it must meet the requirements of paragraph GAE 5.1 of Appendix Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange to the Immigration Rules.
GA5.12. By assigning a CoS on the GAE route, you guarantee that the worker will:
comply with the conditions of their entry clearance or permission to stay– see the ‘Conditions of stay’ section of Part 2: Sponsor a worker for further information
GA5.13. The CoS must confirm all of the following:
GA5.14. You can only assign a CoS up to the maximum period permitted by the relevant programme. If you are sponsoring a worker in an application for permission to stay, you should check carefully how long they have been in the UK on the GAE route.
GA5.15. If you assign a CoS for a period longer than that approved for your scheme, and this is used in a successful application for permission to stay, we are likely to revoke your sponsor licence. We will also speak to your endorsing government department and ask them if they wish to continue endorsing your scheme.
GA5.16. For further information on entering start and end dates, see section S3 in Part 2: Sponsor a worker.
GA5.17. Once you have assigned a CoS to a worker, you must tell us if they fail to start their employment, are absent without permission, or there are any significant changes to the nature of their work or salary, or to your organisation. For full details of your reporting and other duties, see Part 3: Sponsor duties and compliance.
GA5.18. You must also keep records for each worker you sponsor as specified in Appendix D to the sponsor guidance.
GA5.19. If you fail to meet these duties, we may revoke your sponsor licence.
GA5.20. You are responsible for all of the workers you sponsor under the scheme. It is important that you work closely with other bodies or organisations where your sponsored worker are placed. If you do not have enough control over your scheme – for example, if workers are not doing the work you said they would – we will take action against you. This may include revoking your sponsor licence.
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