Temporary Work Visas

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A Temporary Work visa (previously named Tier 5 Temporary Worker visa) is a permit which enables certain specified workers to reside in the UK for up a period of up to 24 months. There are currently six temporary work visas, each with different requirements for both sponsors and prospective workers. These are:

  • Charity Worker visa
  • Creative Worker visa
  • Religious Worker visa
  • Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) visa
  • International Agreement visa
  • Seasonal Worker visa

To apply for one of the above visas, prospective workers must have both a sponsor and a valid Certificate of Sponsorship before applying.

As an organisation seeking to sponsor workers under any of these routes, you must obtain the temporary visa sponsor licence for the specific route required. For this, you will need to satisfy the unique requirements of the specific visa in addition to the standard sponsorship licence requirements. It is possible to hold sponsorship licences in multiple categories provided your organisation satisfies the requirements of each route.

This page outlines each temporary worker visa and sets out their unique requirements.

Charity Worker Visa

This visa route is intended for individuals hoping to travel to the UK to undertake unpaid voluntary work for a charity. This visa will enable charity workers to stay in the UK for up to 12 months.

If an organisation wishes to sponsor a charity worker, they must be either:

  • a registered, excepted or exempt UK charity in line with the relevant charity legislation; or
  • an ecclesiastical corporation which has been established for charitable purposes.

Creative Worker Visa

This visa route is intended for those working in creative sectors such as dance, music, film, theatre, television, opera and fashion modelling. It is open to the entertainers and artists of these types of industries as well as their ‘entourage’. For example, if an eligible film director works with a specific production crew or has a personal assistant, these support staff may also be eligible to accompany the film director under this route. Workers under this route can stay for an initial period of up to 12 months with a further option to extend for a maximum of 24 months if working for the same sponsor.

If an organisation wishes to sponsor a creative worker, the organisation must be operating or intend to operate in the creative sector. Examples of such organisations include production companies and media organisations.

It should be noted that this route used to cover both creatives and sportspersons. However, it is now solely for creatives. If you are a sportsperson, you can instead apply under the International Sportsperson visa.

Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) Visa

This route is for individuals wishing to come to the UK through an authorised exchange scheme. It allows successful applicants to stay in the UK for either 12 or 24 months depending on the scheme. Authorised schemes are typically for the purpose of work experience, research, language or practical training. A full list of the authorised schemes can be found in the Immigration Rules Appendix Government Authorised Exchange Schemes.

This route is very unique in that individual employers and organisations are not permitted to sponsor the workers themselves.

There are however some limited exceptions for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), organisations endorsed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and government departments or their executive agencies.

In the vast majority of cases, the organisations offering the scheme will not be the sponsor. The sponsor will need to be an overarching body which administers the exchange scheme and acts as the licenced sponsor. For example, in the legal sector, if a firm wishes to bring in a worker for an internship under a GAE scheme, they will need to enter into a contract with the Law Society who will become the licenced sponsor and act as the overarching body.

International Agreement Visa

This visa route is for workers coming to the UK under a contract for work that is covered by international law. It includes the following:

  • Private servants in diplomatic households or in the households of officials working for recognised international organisations.
  • Employees of overseas governments and recognised international organisations.
  • Workers coming to the UK to service a contract under specific international trade agreements.

The maximum length of stay under this visa varies depending on the agreement but will be somewhere between a maximum of 6 months to 2 years.

If an organisation wishes to sponsor a worker on an international agreement visa, they must be recognised by the UK as either an overseas government organisation or an international organisation. When an organisation makes an application for a sponsorship licence under this route, they are required to attach a signed letter from the head of the organisation. This letter must confirm that they have agreed to and wish to sponsor individuals under this route and have accepted the sponsorship duties that will follow.

Religious Worker Visa

This route is for individuals who wish to support the activities of religious orders in the UK by undertaking religious work for up to two years.

If an organisation wishes to sponsor a religious worker on a temporary basis, the organisation must:

  • be a legitimate religious organisation;
  • be registered as a charity in the UK;
  • be the structure for a faith-based community with a common system of belief and spiritual goals, codes of behaviour and religious practice, which exists to support common beliefs and practices; and
  • not exclude anyone from its community on the basis of gender, nationality or ethnicity.

Seasonal Worker Visa

For information on the Seasonal Worker visa route, please see our page dedicated to the topic here.

How Can NA Law Solicitors Help?

Whether you’re a prospective worker looking to apply for a temporary worker visa or an organisation looking to apply for a sponsorship licence, NA Law Solicitors is here to help.

Both applications must be carefully prepared and meet all the necessary requirements. If mistakes are made in the application process long delays can follow and there is a high risk of the application being refused.

We have a proven track record for preparing successful Temporary Worker visa applications as well as Sponsorship licence applications and will provide expert guidance for you or your organisation throughout the process.

If you require any further information on the above or are looking to make an application, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a free consultation.

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