Under the UK’s points-based immigration system there are a number of short-term visas that allow overseas nationals to work in the UK on a temporary basis, provided they are sponsored by a licensed sponsor. The T5 International Agreement Worker visa is one such sponsorship visa, allowing individuals to provide a service in the UK on a contractual agreement covered under international law.
What is the T5 International Agreement Worker visa?
The T5 (Temporary Worker) routes replaced the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) routes from 1 December 2020 under the UK’s reformed points-based system. Within the new rules, the Tier 5 International Agreement visa has been re-branded as the T5 International Agreement Worker visa, and applies equally to both EEA and non-EEA nationals who need permission to undertake work in the UK covered by this visa, even though that work is only temporary.
An overseas national will need this type of T5 visa if they’ll be contracted to do work covered by either international law or an international treaty while in the UK. This includes:
- employees of overseas governments or other international organisations established under an international treaty signed by the UK
- private servants working in either diplomatic households or the households of officials working for recognised international organisations
- contractual service suppliers or independent professionals under sectoral commitments the UK has taken in the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or any other services trade agreement under which the UK has similar commitments with other countries.
Who can apply for the T5 International Agreement Worker visa?
There are various temporary worker routes under which UK employers can recruit overseas nationals in a variety of short-term roles, designed to help satisfy a number of different objectives. These include routes for Creative or Sporting Workers, Charity Workers, Religious Workers, Government Authorised Exchange Workers and Seasonal Workers.
Specifically, the T5 International Agreement Worker visa is to enable migrant workers to come to the UK to help satisfy international objectives, whether this be in an employed role covered by international law or to provide a service under a relevant services trade agreement.
Applicants must apply for entry clearance to be able to come to the UK on the International Agreement Worker route. Those already in the UK with leave under this route can apply to extend their stay to continue in the same employment, up to the maximum permitted period, provided they continue to meet the requirements and apply prior to the expiry of their existing leave.
For anyone in the UK on another immigration route, they will not be permitted to switch to this route; they must leave the UK and apply for entry clearance from overseas.
T5 International Agreement Worker visa requirements
To be eligible for a T5 International Agreement Worker visa, the applicant must meet the requirements set out in Appendix T5 (Temporary Worker) International Agreement Worker to the UK’s Immigration Rules. These include the requirements that:
- the applicant has a valid T5 certificate of sponsorship for the role they will undertake from a sponsor licensed to sponsor an International Agreement Worker
- they genuinely intend, and are able, to do the role for which they’re being sponsored
- they meet the specific requirements for the type of role for which they’re being sponsored
- they meet the financial maintenance requirement.
Applicants who will be working in a job role in a relevant occupation code for a UK sponsor which is also a licensed student sponsor may also need to obtain an Academic Approval Technology Scheme (ATAS) certificate — with confirmation on the certificate of sponsorship that the ATAS requirement applies. However, this requirement only applies where the job includes an element of research at PhD level or above in certain sensitive subject areas, such as advanced military technology or weapons of mass destruction.
T5 financial maintenance requirement
Under the financial maintenance requirement for an International Agreement Worker visa, the applicant must be able to show that they can support themselves on their arrival in the UK. To satisfy this requirement, unless exempt, the applicant must provide proof that they have at least £1,270 available funds, and that they have held the required level of funds for at least 28 consecutive days — where day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for their visa.
If the applicant is either applying for entry clearance from overseas or has been in the UK on this route for less than 12 months when they apply for a T5 visa extension, they must show proof of funds. If the applicant is unable to show funds, the applicant’s sponsor must instead confirm on the certificate of sponsorship that they will maintain and accommodate the sponsored worker up to the end of the first month of their employment or service contract for an amount of at least £1,270. The sponsor can do this by completing the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section before assigning the applicant with their sponsorship certificate.
If the applicant plans to bring their partner and children with them, they will also need to show sufficient funds to support themselves on arrival in the UK. For an eligible partner this is set at £285, plus £315 for one child and £200 for each additional child. For example, the total amount in available funds for a family of 4 would need to be £2,070 (£1270 for the primary applicant, £285 for their partner, £315 for the first child and £200 for the second child).
How to apply for a T5 International Agreement Worker visa
To apply for a T5 International Agreement Worker visa, an application must be made online. The applicant will need their unique certificate of sponsorship reference number to be able to apply. They must also pay the relevant fee and submit various documents in support. The supporting documents required for this type of T5 visa include:
- a valid passport or other document that shows the applicant’s identity and nationality
- where applicable, evidence that the applicant has enough personal savings to support themselves in the UK, for example, bank statements
- the applicant’s tuberculosis test results if applying from a country where a test is required.
The applicant may need to provide additional documents depending on their circumstances and the specific role that they will be undertaking under this route. The applicant will also need to provide their biometric information to obtain a biometric residence permit.
Although International Agreement Workers can bring their partner and children with them to the UK, separate applications must be made by dependants for entry clearance. If applying to extend this visa from inside the UK, the applicant may be able to include eligible dependants on their application. In either case, however, any partner or child of the primary applicant must meet the relevant immigration requirements under the rules for dependants, including proof of their relationship and the financial requirement.
How much is the T5 International Agreement Worker visa?
The cost of applying for a T5 International Agreement Worker visa is £244 per person. The fee is the same whether a person is applying from inside or outside the UK, although most EEA primary applicants will be eligible for a £55 reduction.
The applicant and any family members will also be liable to pay a healthcare surcharge for stays of more than 6 months. This is called the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The IHS will give successful International Agreement Workers and any eligible family members access to the NHS whilst in the UK. The IHS is payable at £624 for each year of stay.
T5 International Agreement Worker visa processing times
The earliest an application can be made for a T5 International Agreement Worker visa is 3 months before the date the migrant worker is due to start work in the UK. This date will be set out in their certificate of sponsorship issued by their UK sponsor.
Having submitted a valid application from outside the UK, and having provided all supporting documents and biometric information, the prospective worker should get a decision on their T5 visa within 3 weeks, although UKVI processing times may vary depending on caseload and factors such as pandemic restrictions. An application may take longer, for example, if further documents are needed or if the applicant is required to attend an interview.
The applicant may be able to pay to get a faster decision, depending on which country they’re applying from. Under the priority service, for an additional fee of £500, a decision on a straightforward application will usually be made within 5 working days after the applicant has provident their biometric information. Under the super priority service, for an additional fee of £800, a decision may be made by the end of the next working day.
When applying to extend a grant of leave under the International Agreement Worker route from inside the UK, a decision will usually be made within 8 weeks using the standard service, although the applicant may again be able to pay for a fast-tracked decision. The applicant will also be able to continue working for their employer, provided they submit their application to extend their stay prior to expiry of their existing grant of leave under this route.
How long can International Agreement Workers stay in the UK?
Depending on the international agreement, the maximum period that an International Agreement Worker can stay in the UK is typically between 6 months and 2 years.
If employed by an overseas government or international organisation, or as a private servant in a diplomatic household, the maximum period that can be granted on this route is 2 years, where any time spent in the UK in this capacity will be included in any further grant of leave. However, private servants in diplomatic households who have spent more than 3 years continuously in the UK as a T5 Temporary Worker can apply to extend their stay for up to 2 years at a time, up to a maximum total stay of 5 years.
For contractual service suppliers and independent professionals, the maximum lengths of stay are much shorter. These workers will be granted up to a maximum length of stay of 6 months in any 12-month period, unless they fall within one of the following categories:
- For Swiss nationals or permanent residents covered by the Temporary Agreement between the Swiss Confederation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Services Mobility, the maximum length of stay is 12 months in any 24 month period;
- For EU nationals providing services covered by the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the maximum length of stay is 12 months.
With the exception of private servants in diplomatic households who were originally granted permission under the International Agreement rules in force before 6 April 2012, the International Agreement Worker route is not a path to settlement in the UK.
DavidsonMorris we support employers and workers on all aspects of UK immigration and Home Office applications, including the T5 work visa route. For guidance on your circumstances, contact our UK immigration specialists.
Tier 5 International Agreement Visa FAQs
What is a Tier 5 international agreement visa?
The Tier 5 or (T5) international Agreement Worker visa is for overseas nationals contracted to do work covered by either international law or treaty while in the UK, including employees of overseas governments or private servants working in diplomatic households.
What is a Tier 5 job?
A Tier 5 job can include a variety of short-term roles under the T5 temporary worker route, specifically designed to satisfy cultural, charitable, religious or international objectives, or to meet the needs of the UK’s edible horticultural sector.
What is a Tier 5 sponsor?
A Tier 5 sponsor is a UK-based organisation looking to recruit an overseas worker for a temporary role, including Creative or Sporting Worker, Charity Worker, Religious Worker, Government Authorised Exchange Worker, International Agreement Worker and Seasonal Worker.
Who can work on Tier 5?
There are a number of route-specific requirements to be able to work on Tier 5, including having a valid certificate of sponsorship from a T5-licensed sponsor in the UK and being able to satisfy a financial maintenance requirement.
Last updated: 23 August 2o21