Follow our step-by-step guide to apply for a Government Authorised Exchange Visa, ideal for those participating in approved exchange schemes.

Government Authorised Exchange Visa

 If you’re thinking about working or studying in the UK, the Government Authorised Exchange Visa could be your ticket to a rewarding experience. This guide covers everything from eligibility and the application process to fees and the possibility of extending your stay.

Understanding the Government Authorised Exchange Scheme

The Government Authorised Exchange Scheme, previously called the Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange Visa (T5), is for foreign nationals to share their expertise and learn best practices while in the UK.

Eligibility Criteria For Government Authorised Exchange Visa

To qualify for this visa, you must meet specific criteria, including:

Government-Approved Exchange Scheme

You should be part of a government-approved exchange scheme and have a licensed sponsor. Eligible sponsors include organizations running approved exchange schemes, government departments or agencies, and higher education institutions for sponsored researchers, examiners, or visiting academics. Purpose of Your Stay

Your stay in the UK can be for various purposes, such as:

  • Work experience
  • Training
  • Overseas Government Language Programme
  • Research
  • Fellowship

The duration of your stay depends on your specific purpose. You can stay for up to 12 months for work experience or up to 24 months for research, training, or an Overseas Government Language Programme. Additionally, this visa allows you to study and take on a part-time second job during your stay.

Who is Eligible?

You may be eligible for the Government Authorised Exchange Visa if you plan to come to the UK for a short period to participate in work experience, training, language programs, research, or fellowships under a government-approved scheme. In addition to scheme acceptance, you must:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Hold a Certificate of Sponsorship from a registered UK sponsor
  • Demonstrate sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK, with at least £1,270 available in your bank account for 28 consecutive days within 31 days of your visa application

Exemptions from the financial requirement are possible if you’ve been in the UK for at least 12 months on a valid visa or if your employer agrees to cover your costs during your initial month in the UK.

Applying for the Visa For Government Authorised Exchange Visa

The application process for the Government Authorised Exchange Visa involves several steps:

Online Application

Apply for the visa online using the form available on the website. You can apply up to 3 months before your intended start date in the UK.

Identity Verification

Prove your identity as part of your visa application. The method depends on your nationality and passport type. You may use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to scan your valid identity document. Alternatively, if this option is not available, attend an appointment at a visa application center to provide your biometric information, including your photograph and fingerprints.

Application Location

It’s important to note that you can only apply for this visa from outside the UK. If you are currently in the UK, your options are limited to extending your existing visa or switching to this category.

Fees and Processing Times

Understanding the fees and processing times associated with your visa application is crucial:

Application Fee

The application fee for the Government Authorised Exchange Visa is £259.

Immigration Health Surcharge

In addition to the application fee, you’ll also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is typically £624 per year. If you plan to bring family members with you, separate applications and Health Surcharge fees apply to them.

Processing Times For Government Authorised Exchange Visa

Processing times can vary depending on various factors, including additional time for the Home Office to verify your information or the need for an appointment at a visa application center. Generally, you can expect a decision on your visa within:

  • 3 weeks if you’re applying from outside the UK
  • 8 weeks if you’re applying to switch to this visa from within the UK

Extending Your Visa

If you’re already in the UK on a valid Government Authorised Exchange visa, you may be eligible to extend your stay. To qualify, you must still meet all eligibility criteria and hold a valid, unexpired visa.

After extending your visa, you can stay in the UK for:

  • An additional 12 months if you’re engaged in work experience
  • An additional 24 months if you’re involved in research, training, or an Overseas Government Language Programme

You may also stay for the duration specified on your certificate of sponsorship plus an extra 14 days, whichever is shorter. If you wish to change your sponsor, you must reapply for a new visa.

Switching to the Government Authorised Exchange Visa

Switching to a Government Authorised Exchange visa may be possible if you meet the eligibility criteria. You can apply if you are:

  • A student, including those studying, resitting examinations, or working on a thesis
  • A student union sabbatical officer
  • A student nurse
  • A postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • A Student visa holder (including Tier 4)

To be eligible, you must have completed a UK bachelor’s or master’s degree during your last grant of leave. Additionally, the work, training, or research you intend to undertake in the UK must be related to your UK degree.

Required Documents For Government Authorised Exchange Visa

When applying for the Government Authorised Exchange Visa, you must submit various documents to prove your eligibility. These documents typically include:

  • A valid passport or national identity document with an available blank page for your visa
  • Your certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • Evidence of sufficient personal savings to support yourself, such as bank statements
  • Tuberculosis test results, if applicable based on your home country
  • A valid ATAS certificate if your job involves sensitive research at the PhD level or higher

If you plan to bring dependent relatives, such as your partner or children, you must provide documents proving your relationship with them. Ensure that all documents submitted are in English or Welsh; if not, provide certified translations.

The Government Authorised Exchange Visa provides a chance for foreign nationals to gain experience in the UK through work, training, language programs, research, or fellowships. It’s important to carefully follow the application process and meet all eligibility requirements for a successful visa application. For extra help, consider consulting with immigration experts. This visa is your gateway to new opportunities in the UK, so approach it confidently and be well-prepared.

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