The UK's International Agreement visa is a route for individuals contracted for temporary work covered by international law or treaty. We specialise in UK work visa applications.
The UK’s International Agreement visa is a temporary route for individuals contracted for work covered by international law or treaty. It has replaced the UK’s previous Temporary Worker – International Agreement Worker visa (T5).
In this guide to the International Agreement visa, we explain what this temporary work visa allows, who can apply, and how to apply.
The International Agreement visa is a temporary work visa for overseas nationals who will be contracted to provide a service that is covered by international law or treaty while they are in the UK. This includes working for either an overseas government or recognised international organisation, or as a private servant within a diplomatic household.
The worker must be sponsored by an authorised employer to be eligible for the visa.
If an applicant is successfully granted an International Agreement visa, this will allow them to come to the UK to undertake the job specified on their Certificate of Sponsorship.
The length of time that a visa-holder can stay in the UK will depend on the type of work they will be doing. An overseas government or international organisation worker will be permitted to stay in the UK for either up to 2 years or the time given on their certificate of sponsorship, plus up to 14 days, whichever is shorter.
However, a private servant in a diplomatic household can stay for up to 5 years, although they can only apply for up to 2 years at a time or for the time given on their sponsorship certificate, plus up to 14 days.
The visa-holder will be permitted to enter the UK on the date their visa starts.
Once in the UK, they will be able to study alongside their sponsored job role, provided this does not interfere with the job that they are being sponsored to do.
An employee of an overseas government or an international organisation will also be able to undertake supplementary employment, if they so choose. However, this additional employment can only be for up to 20 hours per week and cannot be instead of their sponsored job role. It must also be either in the same sector as their main job or on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list.
An overseas national aged 18 or over who has the offer of a job role to undertake work in the UK that is covered by international law or treaty will potentially be eligible for an International Agreement visa, provided they are being sponsored by an eligible employer approved to sponsor this category of worker.
To assign certificates of sponsorship, the prospective employer must hold a valid sponsor licence for the International Agreement route, where the sponsor will only be eligible for a licence if they are recognised by the UK government. As such, to be eligible, the organisation must be either:
This is a list of international organisations recognised by the UK, some of whose senior employees or officials may be exempt from immigration control, where those employees or officials who are not exempt can be sponsored on the International Agreement route.
The work that the International Agreement visa applicant will be doing in the UK must also relate to the work of the sponsoring organisation, where their work must be either:
Workers who are being contracted to provide services to a UK company would not be eligible for the International Agreement visa. To fulfil contractual service supplier or independent professional commitments, overseas nationals should instead apply for a Global Business Mobility (GBM) – Service Supplier route.
To apply for an International Agreement visa, the applicant must have a valid certificate of sponsorship. This holds information about the applicant and their job, and will prove to the UK Home Office that the applicant is being sponsored in an eligible job role for which they are being paid at least the National Minimum Wage. The sponsorship certificate will be valid for a period of 3 months from the date that it is assigned to the prospective International Agreement worker.
In addition to a valid sponsorship number, the applicant must also have enough money to support themselves on their arrival in the UK. Under this financial requirement, the applicant must be able to show proof of funds of £1,270 and that they have held this sum for at least 28 days in a row, with day 28 falling within 31 days of applying for this visa.
If the applicant’s partner or dependent children are also applying at the same time as the International Agreement worker, the following additional funds will be required:
The principal applicant and any dependants applying with them will not need to show funds if the sponsoring employer is prepared to certify maintenance for the whole family. In this scenario the employer would need to certify that they will cover the applicant’s costs during their first month’s stay in the UK, up to the sum of £1,270, together with the extra costs for any partner and children accompanying the applicant.
Applications for the International Agreement visa must be made online. An application can be made up to 3 months before the day that the applicant is due to start work in the UK. This date will be listed on their certificate of sponsorship.
As part of the application, the applicant will need to prove their identity and provide any documentation in support. The way in which they do this will depend on where they are from and what type of passport they have. They may be able to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document. Alternatively, they may be required to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at an overseas visa application centre (VAC). This will enable them to get a biometric residence permit. The applicant will be told whether they need to schedule a VAC appointment when they start their online application.
The applicant will need a valid passport or other travel document to be able to prove their identity and nationality. They will also need proof of personal savings, unless their sponsor is certifying maintenance, as well as a valid ATAS certificate if their employer tells them that they need one because their job will involve researching a sensitive subject at PhD level or higher, together with their tuberculosis test results if they are from a country where they are required to take the test. The applicant will also need to provide proof of their relationship with their partner and any children, if applying at the same time, and they may need to provide additional documentation depending on their particular circumstances.
Once an applicant has applied online, paid the relevant fee, proved their identity and provided their documents, they will usually get a decision on their visa within 3 weeks.
The costs of applying for an International Agreement visa are as follows:
These costs are in addition to the funds required to meet the financial requirement. If the applicant is required to attend a VAC appointment, they may be able to pay for a faster decision. Applicants will be advised when making their application if premium processing is available to them .
The International Agreement visa-holder will be able to bring their immediate family with them to the UK, including their partner or any children under 18, provided their partner or children meet the relevant immigration requirements for dependants.
A partner will include any unmarried partner, provided they have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage for at least 2 years when they apply. When it comes to dependent children, if they are aged 16 or over, they must live with their parent(s), unless they are in full-time education at either boarding school, college or university. They must also not be married, in a civil partnership or have any children of their own.
If the partner and children of the principal applicant or primary visa-holder successfully apply to accompany or join them in the UK on the International Agreement route, their visa will end on the same date. They will be free to undertake any type of work while they are in the UK, including self-employment and voluntary work, except as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. They will also be able to pursue any studies.
An International Agreement visa-holder can apply to extend their visa, although they must be in the UK to do this and continue to meet the eligibility requirements.
However, there are maximum lengths of stay under the International Agreement route. For overseas government or international organisation workers, they can stay in the UK for a maximum period of 2 years, while for private servants or employees in the household of someone who works for a recognised international organisation, they can stay for a maximum of 5 years.
Importantly, when applying to extend an International Agreement visa, the permission given to the partner or dependent children of the primary visa-holder will not automatically extend at the same time. This means that any partner or dependent children must also apply to extend their stay, otherwise their visas will only be valid until their original end date. They can either apply at the same time as their partner or parent to extend their stay or at any time after, provided this is prior to expiry of their existing visa(s).
When applying for an extension of stay, the application can take up to 8 weeks using the standard service. During this time, the applicant and any dependants will not be permitted to travel outside the UK, otherwise risk having their application(s) withdrawn.
The International Agreement route is not a route to settlement. This means that an International Agreement worker will not be able to apply for what is known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR) on this route to allow them to settle in the UK on a permanent basis.
An International Agreement worker will instead be required to apply to switch into a different immigration route that provides a path to settlement, such as the Skilled Worker route, and to meet the eligibility requirements of that route. It is only in this way that they would then be able to apply for ILR at a later date, having met the applicable requirements for settlement including, for example, a continuous residence requirement on that route.
Under the previous International Agreement rules, provision was made for settlement by a private servant in a diplomatic household, but these provisions were recently removed.
An International Agreement worker is an overseas national contracted to do work covered by international law or treaty in the UK, including working for an overseas government or recognised international organisation, or as a private servant within a diplomatic household.
The Temporary Work - International Agreement Visa has replaced the T5 Temporary Worker – International Agreement Worker visa under Tier 5 of the previous immigration rules in the UK, with new guidance issued by the Home Office on this short-term visa route.
The eligibility requirements for a UK work visa can vary, depending on the immigration route under which permission to work in the UK is being sought. For example, for a Skilled Worker visa, there are minimum skill and salary requirements.