Tier 5 temporary workers

Under the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange - Sponsored Researcher) route academic institutions can sponsor those coming to the UK, on a temporary basis, to take part in one or more of the following activities:

  • collaborate on University-hosted research where they are not filling an advertised position and the work is additional to the department/college's normal requirements;
  • undertake research as an intern where the work is additional to the department/college's normal requirements;
  • give a lecture/lectures where they are not filling an advertised position and the work is additional to the department/college's normal requirements;
  • act as an external examiner.*

*PLEASE NOTE: if an academic is coming to the University solely to act as an external examiner the Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) Visitor visa route would be more appropriate.

It is not possible for the University to issue a Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship to a temporary worker who intends to take part in any activity other than supernumerary research, giving lectures on their research, or acting as an external examiner. There is an Internship Scheme which is run by an external organisation, which departments and colleges may wish to make use of for all other types of internships (i.e. those not specifically to undertake research).

Where someone is coming to the University to discuss, but not undertake, research one of the Visitor visa routes may be appropriate, although this should normally be discussed with SIT. While discussing work on collaborative research and joint publications being undertaken outside the UK may be possible under a Visitor visa, if collaborative research is being undertaken or they are coming to work collaboratively on a joint paper in the UK Tier 5 would be the appropriate visa route.

Those using the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) route may be employed and paid by the host department/college, or may be employed and paid by an overseas institution, or may have been awarded a grant to fund their employment in/visit to the UK.

Tier 5 visa holders are permitted to undertake a course of study in the UK without prior approval from the Home Office, however, those undertaking studies in science, engineering and technology subjects must check whether the course subject will mean they are required to first obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate. Further information can be found in relation to ATAS and applying for clearance in the University's Tier 4 student visa guidance.

Certificates of Sponsorship are only issued for applicants who are doing work to a level of NQF level 3 or above.

The University holds its own allocation of Tier 5 Certificates of Sponsorship which can be issued to those who qualify as temporary workers. Unlike Tier 2, there is currently no monthly cap on the number of Tier 5 Certificates of Sponsorship and the University is not required to request Tier 5 Certificates of Sponsorship for overseas applicants on a case-by-case basis from the Home Office.

All those coming to the UK to work or take part in sponsored research must obtain entry clearance/visa before arriving in the UK. 

Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) (credit-card sized plastic visa cards) are now issued to those applying from overseas for permission to stay in the UK for more than six months. The applicant will be issued with a 30 day vignette (visa in their passport) to enable them to enter the UK but they must then collect their BRP within 10 days from a designated Post Office.

A letter issued to the applicant along with their 30 day vignette details the designated Post Office and the date from which the BRP will be available for collection, based on the UK address and intended travel date listed in the visa application. The passport containing the vignette and the letter must be presented when collecting the BRP. If the applicant does not collect their BRP within 10 days they could face a financial penalty and have may have their visa curtailed. Guidance in relation to BRPs for overseas applicants, and the schedule for the international roll-out, can be found on the Home Office website.

Please note that those applying under this category will be subject to a "genuineness test".

If departments and colleges are unsure whether they need to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship, please see Do I need a Certificate of Sponsorship? (463kb), or contact the Staff Immigration Team for advice.

Please see the Tier 5 application process flow chart (197kb) for further information. The processes involved, and the procedures to be followed, are described in more detail in the following sections.