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Tier 5 Visa Guidance

The Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) visa is a temporary visa for workers in specific sectors. The jobs covered by a Tier 5 visa are: creative and sporting workers, religious workers, charity workers, seasonal workers, workers under international agreements and government authorised exchange workers.

You are only eligible for a Tier 5 visa if you have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an ‘A’-rated employer licensed by the UK Home Office to sponsor workers on Tier 5 visas.

A Tier 5 visa can be granted for between six and twenty-four months, depending on the type of Tier 5 visa given. It is possible for a dependant partner and dependant children to apply to come to the UK with the Tier 5 visa-holder.

The Tier 5 visa is not a route to settlement unless the applicant is a private servant in a diplomatic household who has extended their visa.

It is not possible for a Tier 5 visa holder to switch between the different Tier 5 categories, but you can apply for an extension to your Tier 5 visa if you have not already exceeded the maximum amount of time allowed on your route.

Each Tier 5 visa route has its own requirements, and these are dealt with by category below. However, there are some requirements that apply to all applicants applying for a Tier 5 visa.

These are:

  • a certificate of sponsorship;
  • it must be a genuine application, i.e. the visa applicant genuinely intends to undertake the role described on the certificate of sponsorship and is capable of doing so;
  • financial requirement (previously known as maintenance). This is automatically met if, on the date of the application, you have already been in the UK lawfully for the previous twelve months. Otherwise, to fulfil the financial requirement, you must either have £1270 in your bank account for at least 28 days or your sponsor must confirm on the CoS that, if necessary, it will maintain and accommodate you for the first month of your employment for an amount at least equal to £1270; and
    a tuberculosis certificate (depending on your country of residence).

 

T5 Creative or Sporting Worker Visa

This is a temporary visa for those wishing to work in the creative or sporting sectors.

Eligibility requirements

 

Sporting Workers

There are specific eligibility requirements for sporting workers. The first is that the sponsor must guarantee that the applicant is internationally established at the highest level for their sport and their employment will make a significant contribution to the operation and development of that sport in the UK.

The second is that the sponsor must also obtain an endorsement from the sport’s governing body that a significant contribution will be made and that the post could not be filled by a settled worker.

Creative Workers

There are specific eligibility requirements for creative workers. Upon issuing its CoS, a sponsor must confirm that the applicant will not seek to base themselves in business in the UK and they will leave the UK when their visa expires. They must also certify that they have either considered the relevant Tier 5 Creative Workers Code of Practice, or that the applicant’s job appears on the shortage occupation list or that the sponsor has taken into account the needs of the resident labour market and is satisfied that the job cannot be carried out by a settled worker.

The undertakings required of the sponsor under this requirement are fairly onerous and require detailed explanation and justification by the sponsor.

Application process

You must provide:

  • identity documents;
  • a certificate of sponsorship issued no earlier than three months before you submit your application;
  • payment of the appropriate fee and Immigration Healthcare Surcharge.

 

Note that it is possible to apply for group certificates e.g. for the entourage of a famous performer, where necessary.

 

T5 Charity Worker visa 

The Charity Worker route is for those wishing to undertake voluntary unpaid fieldwork which contributes directly to the sponsor’s charitable purpose in the UK.

The visa is for a maximum period of twelve months.

The visa is intended to cover someone to do work which would not usually be offered as a paid position. So, for example, administrative staff and fundraisers would not be included in this definition. Nor can this visa be used by the sponsor temporarily to fill a role that is required on a permanent basis. The sponsor is require to certify both these points on its CoS.

 

Eligibility requirements

The sponsor is required to certify that it will not in any way remunerate the applicant and that the applicant will leave the UK when their visa expires, in addition to the two requirements described above.

A ‘cooling off period’ applies to applicant for a visa on the Charity Worker route. This means that if the Charity Worker has had permission to enter the UK either as a Religious Worker or as a Charity Worker in the twelve months leading up to the date of the current application then it will be declined. The only exception to this is if the worker can prove that they did not actually come to the UK, despite having permission to do so.

 

Application process

You must provide:

  • identity documents;
  • a certificate of sponsorship issued no earlier than three months before you submit your application;
  • payment of the appropriate fee and Immigration Healthcare Surcharge.

 

Religious Worker

This route is for Religious Workers coming to the UK to work for a maximum of 24 months, in one of three capacities:

  • religious worker undertaking supporting activities which do not include leading a congregation in performing rites, rituals and ceremonies; or
  • visiting religious workers who will be employed in the UK to do exactly the same job as they already do and that job will continue in the UK; or
  • members of religious orders, for example, nuns.

 

If the applicant is a Minister of Religion then they should apply via the Tier 2 Minister of Religion route.

The applicant’s sponsor must give various guarantees, including:

  • it will support the applicant through the provision of funds and/or accommodation;
  • the applicant is suitably qualified for the role;
  • it will take responsibility for the applicant;
  • the applicant will not displace or deny an employment opportunity to a candidate from the resident labour market.

 

The CoS itself must explain the duties of the applicant, provide details of how the applicant will be paid and explain how the requirements of the resident labour market test have been met.

 

Eligibility requirements

The applicant’s sponsor must give various guarantees, including:

  • that it will support the applicant through the provision of funds and/or accommodation;
  • that the applicant is suitably qualified for the role;
  • that it will take responsibility for the applicant; and
  • that the applicant will not displace or deny an employment opportunity to a candidate from the resident labour market.

 

The CoS itself must explain the duties of the applicant, provide details of how the applicant will be paid and explain how the requirements of the resident labour market test have been met.

A ‘cooling off period’ applies to applicants for a visa on the Religious Worker route. This means that if the Charity Worker has had permission to enter the UK either as a Religious Worker or as a Charity Worker in the twelve months leading up to the date of the current application then it will be declined. The only exception to this is if the worker can prove that they did not actually come to the UK, despite having permission to do so.

 

Application process

You must provide:

  • identity documents;
  • a certificate of sponsorship issued no earlier than three months before you submit your application;
  • payment of the appropriate fee and Immigration Healthcare Surcharge.

 

Government Authorised Exchange Worker

This route is for workers to come to the UK for a maximum period of either 12 or 24 months to share expertise and best practice in governance. Certain Higher Education Providers can also use this visa to share knowledge and best practice and to hire external researchers to take on a project or a series of lectures.

 

Eligibility requirements

The worker cannot be sponsored by a normal Tier 5 sponsor. Instead, they must be sponsored by an overarching body that manages the exchange scheme and has the support of a UK government department.

The CoS must state that the worker is taking part in an approved exchange scheme, will work or train at or above the required skill level and will not fill a vacancy in the UK.

The applicant must be ’skilled’, that is they must have a qualification equivalent to National or Scottish vocational qualification (N/SVQ) level 3 or above.

 

Application process

You must provide:

  • identity documents;
  • a certificate of sponsorship issued no earlier than three months before you submit your application;
  • payment of the appropriate fee and Immigration Healthcare Surcharge.

 

If you were receiving a grant from your government to cover fees and/or living expenses in the last twelve months, then you must include a letter from your government giving written consent to your application for the Tier 5 visa.

 

International Agreement Worker

This route is for employees of overseas governments and diplomatic households, and contractors providing a service under an international treaty or international law.

 

Eligibility requirements

There are specific requirements, depending on which of the following categories you belong:

  • Contractual Service Supplier
  • They must be highly qualified and be employed by a company that is based in a country that is a signatory to the trade agreement under which they are supplying services.
  • Independent Professional
  • Most importantly, the applicant must have their own business in a country that is a signatory to the trade agreement under which they are providing services. They must not have a commercial presence in the UK.

 

Employee of an overseas government or international organisation

In this category, the CoS must guarantee, amongst other things, that you are working under a contract of employment to provide a service covered under international law.

 

Private servant in a diplomatic household

The CoS must guarantee that the applicant will work full time as a private servant for a diplomatic household and that they are not related to the sponsor or the sponsor’s spouse. The CoS must also guarantee that the applicant will be paid the National Minimum Wage.

Private servants are the only type of Tier 5 visa-holder who can extend their visa up to 5 years and then be eligible for settlement.

 

Application process

You must provide:

  • identity documents;
  • a certificate of sponsorship issued no earlier than three months before you submit your application;
  • payment of the appropriate fee and Immigration Healthcare Surcharge.

 

Seasonal Worker

This visa is for workers coming to the UK to work in the edible horticulture sector through an approved scheme operator.

Edible horticulture means protected and field vegetables, soft fruit, orchard fruit, mushrooms and vine and bines.

Applicants are only allowed to come to the UK for a maximum of six months in any twelve-month period.

 

Eligibility requirements

There are only two approved scheme operators: Concordia (UK) Limited and Pro-Force Limited.

There is an annual quote of 10,000 workers, divided between the two operators. The operator issuing the CoS has to guarantee that the worker is over 18, will not undertake any other employment while they are in the UK and will leave the UK when their visa expires.

There is no requirement for a tuberculosis certificate and no requirement for the genuineness of the offer to be assessed.

The visa cannot be extended.

 

Application process

You must provide:

  • identity documents;
  • a certificate of sponsorship issued no earlier than three months before you submit your application;
  • payment of the appropriate fee. Applicants under the Seasonal Worker category do not need to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge.

 

Tier 5 Visa FAQs

What is a T5 visa?

A Tier 5 visa is a temporary visa for workers in specific sectors. The jobs covered by a Tier 5 visa are: creative and sporting workers, religious workers, charity workers, seasonal workers, workers under international agreements and government authorised exchange workers. Depending on which type of visa you are applying for, you could receive permission to work in the UK for between six and twenty-four month.

How much does a T5 visa cost?

It costs £244 for a Tier 5 Temporary Visa. You will also have to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge unless you are a Seasonal Worker.

Who can apply for T5 visa?

You can only apply for a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) visa if you are a worker in one of the following categories: creative or sporting, religious, charity, government approved exchange, international agreement or seasonal. The requirements in each category are highly specific. In addition, the worker must be sponsored by an approved Tier 5 visa sponsor that appears on the UK Home Office list.

How long does it take to get a T5 visa?

It usually takes around three weeks to obtain a decision from the UK Home Office on a Tier 5 visa application. You can pay more to get your decision more quickly. You can apply for the visa at any time in the three month period before the start date stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship.

Last updated: 1 June 2021

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