The Government Authorised Exchange scheme is made up of 4 separate programmes:

  • Work Experience Programme – for internships and job shadowing (12 month visa).
  • Research Programme – for work on a specific scientific, academic, medical or government research project (24 month visa).
  • Training Programme – to carry out undertake a formal, practical training programme in Science and/or medicine. This would normally lead to a professional qualification (24 month visa).  
  • Overseas Government Language Programme – for language teachers sponsored by their overseas government to carry out teaching placements in the UK (24 month visa).

Whichever programme you apply for, you will need to be sponsored by a ‘licensed overarching body’. These bodies are responsible for the running of the programmes and may help you to find a placement.

Sponsored Researcher - this is an exceptional sub-category which allows universities to sponsor individuals who are coming to the UK from overseas to undertake research at Imperial and are being financially sponsored by an external organisation for up to 24 months. (unless you are a sponsored researcher at a university – in this case, the university will be your sponsor). 

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Overarching bodies

The list of schemes available under Government Authorised Exchange are usually very specialised but there are a couple of overarching bodies that can provide sponsorship for internships. These are incredibly helpful where the employer offering the internship does not hold a Tier 5 license. 

Two of the most relevant 'overarching bodies' for students are:

  1. Access Tier 5:  Works directly with the employer to confirm that the internship offered meets government requirements and issues the Certificate of Sponsorship. If you have secured an internship you will need to ask your employer to contact Access Tier 5 to arrange sponsorship. The employer will be required to pay a registration fee (currently £ 600 + VAT). The visa applicant would need to cover the costs of the visa application and meeting the maintenance requirements.
  2. Tier 5 Intern: Enables international graduates to get experience in most UK companies except in the care, hospitality or agriculture sectors. You will need to find your own placement and your prospective employer must contact GTI Recruiting Solutions to arrange sponsorship. The employer will need to pay a registration fee of £ 750 + VAT. The visa applicant would need to cover the costs of the visa application and meeting the maintenance requirements.

A list of all of the ‘overarching bodies’ is available on the Home Office website.

Applying in the UK

You may only apply for your visa in the UK if:

  1. You have a Student visa and
  2. You have been awarded a UK degree during the validity period of your visa and
  3. You are being sponsored under GAE either to carry out postgraduate professional training or work experience, necessary to obtain a professional qualification or professional registration in the same field as your UK qualification or you are being sponsored for up to 12 months to undertake an internship which directly relates to your studies and
  4. Your employer does not intend to employ you in the UK at the end of your training/internship.

If you do not meet these requirements, you will need to return to your home country to make your application.

Application process

  • Apply to the ‘overarching body’ in which you are interested – see information under the 'Overarching bodies' tab. If your application is successful, you will be given a CoS (Certificate of Sponsorship), which you will need for the visa application process in the next step.
  • Make your visa application. Apply online in the UK or apply online outside the UK.  

Financial requirements

Under this visa route you are required to show that you have held maintenance of £1270 held for 28 consecutive days. The maintenance amount is the same whether you apply in the UK or from overseas.

If you have been living in the UK for the past 12 months there is no requirement to provide evidence of maintenance.