The Benefits of the UK Temporary Worker-Government Authorised Exchange Visa for Businesses and Internship Seekers

19th February 2024

Undertaking work experience or an internship has many advantages to both the applicant and employer. However, navigating which visa category is most suitable can be challenging.

Undertaking work experience or an internship has many advantages to both the applicant and employer. However, navigating which visa category is most suitable can be challenging, especially when a business is not a UK sponsor licence holder and is unfamiliar with the UK visa regime. In such circumstances, the UK’s Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (TW GAE) visa offers a number of benefits to both individuals and employers.    

This temporary work route is ideal for those who wish to come to the UK through an approved scheme that aims to share knowledge, experience, and best practice via an internship and is targeted at young adults, those in higher education or new graduates.

Rather than sponsoring an intern via a business held sponsor licence, as in the case of the Skilled Worker route, the sponsor under the TW GAE scheme must be a separate overarching body approved by UK Visas and Immigration to sponsor such individuals to undertake the internship. The internship role must be additional to normal staffing requirements and must be at a sufficient skill level. In this case, RQF level 3 which is the same skill level that needs to be met under the Skilled Worker category.

Although applicants must meet other eligibility factors such as a financial requirement, it can be offset to the overarching sponsor who can certify maintenance on behalf of the applicant. Once the CoS is in place, the process mirrors most UK visa applications with the added benefit that the government fees are much lower, at approximately £298 per applicant.

The TW GAE category limits internships to a maximum of 12 months. However, should the intern secure a permanent position following the internship, they may apply to switch into the Skilled Worker category, allowing them to stay and work in this new capacity.

Finding an Overarching Sponsor for Foreign Interns

Fragomen LLP is the only UK law firm approved by UK Visas and Immigration and endorsed by The Department of Business and Trade to hold a Sponsor Licence under the TW GAE visa route under Fragomen’s International Internship Scheme (Scheme). For more than 13 years, the firm has used this licence to help those seeking an internship as part of degree level studies overseas or for internships/work placements for new graduates wanting to take their first career steps in their chosen field and in some circumstances looking for a career change.

As part of Fragomen’s service, the firm fully assess that the applicant will be able to meet the criteria of the scheme, the underlying UK Visas and Immigration rules and can provide full representation with the UK visa application itself.

What Are the Benefits to Your Business?

Many UK employers use internships to attract emerging talent across the globe. This in turn contributes to developing a foundation of future leaders, whilst also building a diverse workforce, the company’s brand globally and attracting investment into the UK.

Many businesses are not aware of the TW GAE visa route and thus tend to use the more costly Skilled Worker visa for internships, a route that should be reserved for permanent hires. Another visa category that is often used for internships is the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa, which is available only for certain nationalities, but enables young adults aged 18-30 (up to 35 for some nationalities) to experience life in the UK. On face value this would be an appropriate visa route for an internship, however where there is a desire to return to the UK later in their later 20’s it provides greater flexibility for their first two/three years of employment in the UK as no sponsorship is required.

The TW GAE route is built to allow candidates to come to the UK to experience what it is like working in the UK for a UK company. For businesses, not only is it a more cost-effective visa route, but it also allows access to candidates across the globe. Companies benefit from this option as it allows them to trial emerging talent and get an understanding of a candidate’s attributes and fit for the business with the potential to then offer them a full-time position under the Skilled Worker visa route (subject to meeting the visa category criteria). Some would say this is a win-win situation for businesses in the UK.

Read more here

Or contact Pina Mistry, Senior Manager, Fragomen - pmistry@fragomen.com

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