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Government Authorised Exchange | Temporary Work Visa

The introduction of the Government Authorised Exchange program which is also known as GAE, is a visa category allowing you to come in the UK for a short period of time to do work experience or to do training. Further to this, the visa category permits those who wish to conduct research or a fellowship through an approved scheme.

The aim of this visa category is to allow you to share knowledge, experience and the best practice through work placements in the UK. It further enhances a person’s social and cultural setting which they would experience in the UK and take those with them to share at their country of residency.

The Government Authorised Exchange visa category cannot be used to replace a full time vacancy or bring in the UK to do unskilled work. Individual employers or organisations are not allowed to sponsor under this category, as this will create an opportunity to be abused. The Home Office are aware of circumstances whereby this can happen, given that migrants will be unskilled.

What are the requirements of the Government Authorised Exchange

In order to apply for the visa category under the GAE, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  1. You must have a sponsor who will issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) under the Government Authorised Exchange program.

  2. The CoS must be issued prior to the visa application is lodged. Without a valid CoS, your application under the Government Authorised Exchange will be refused.

  3. The work, training or research you intend to do in the UK must be related to the work your sponsor does in the UK.

  4. You must meet the maintenance requirements as specified by the immigration rules.

How does the Government Authorised Exchange program work?

The sponsor for this visa will be usually the overarching body who manages the scheme. Both the scheme and the sponsorship must be supported by the Home Office. The overarching body will be responsible for the sponsorship under the Government Authorised Exchange. 

The GAE permits sponsors from the following organisations and must hold a valid sponsor licence under the Tier 5 visa category:

  1. An organisation which is running the approved scheme.

  2. A higher educational institution.

  3. A government agency or department.

Where a university is sponsoring a migrant as a researcher, this scheme must be approved by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. If you need more information on this, you can speak to ICS Legal on 0207 237 3388 or email our UK Immigration Lawyers on info@icslegal.com.

The Home Office makes regular changes to the sponsored list and the types of schemes available. These lists under the Government Authorised Exchange are available on the immigration rules.

How does the sponsorship work under the Government Authorised Exchange?

When the overarching sponsor assigns the electronic work permit also known as the Certificate of Sponsor (CoS), your sponsor will be confirming that you are coming to the UK in order to work or train temporarily through the scheme.

You will not be permitted to work for anyone else nor operate a business in the UK and you must meet the published requirements of the exchange program you intend to come in the UK under.

Visa valid period of the Government Authorised Exchange

The visa is usually granted between 12 and 24 months in the UK. This depends on the scheme you have made your application under. If your sponsor have initially granted the Certificate of Sponsorship less than the approved scheme, you can be issued a new Certificate of Sponsorship in the UK to complete the maximum period allowed under the scheme itself.

Switching to the Government Authorised Exchange program

The visa category allows a student to switch into the Government Authorised Exchange program, provided that you have completed your degree in the UK during the periods of your last visa. You will need to demonstrate that you are being sponsored in the field in order to obtain a professional qualification.

Frequently asked questions about the Government Authorised Exchange (GAE)

You will find some useful information below regarding the government authorised exchange program and its visa process.

How to lodge an application for a Government Authorised Exchange

The visa application as a government authorised exchange can be applied from the UK if you hold a valid student visa and meet the requirements of the immigration rules in reference to the switching criteria’s. Further to this, if you wish to apply for the visa from outside of the UK, you can do so and will need to meet the requirements of the published scheme you intend to apply under.

How long does a Government Authorised Exchange visa take to be decided by the Home Office

When you apply from the UK, the visa can take around 8 weeks however this can be fast tracked if you choose the priority visa service. If you apply from outside of the UK, a decision is usually made within 15 working days.

Dependants under the Government Authorised Exchange scheme

The visa category allows your dependants including your partner, civil partner or children under the age of 18 years to join you in the UK or can extend their leave to remain if they already hold a valid dependant visa. If your dependants hold other type of leave to remain in the UK, they may be able to switch into the dependant visa.

Your family members must apply for a visa to either join you or extend their leave to remain in the UK and must meet the requirements of the immigration rules which include the financial maintenance as specified.

If a Government Authorised Exchange is refused, can the decision be appealed?

An application that is refused under the government authorised exchange visa cannot be appealed against however you can lodge a request for a review of the decision. You must set out the case working errors.

Taking legal advice on the Government Authorised Exchange scheme visa

We at ICS Legal will provide guidance and correct advice on how to apply under the government authorised exchange visa category and we find this is essential when considering working in the UK. You can speak to one of our UK Immigration Lawyers on 0207 237 3388 or you can email us at info@icslegal.com.

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