Visiting the UK as a temporary worker: what you need to know

In order to visit the UK as a temporary worker from a country outside of the European Economic Area, you need to apply for a visa. The visa type you should apply for is called the Tier 5 visa, and within it are six categories suitable for different people depending on what type of work they are coming to the UK to do and what age they are. The rules and requirements of each of the categories are slightly different too, although there are some overlaps. The categories are:

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  • Temporary religious worker
  • Temporary charity worker
  • Temporary creative and sporting worker
  • The Youth Mobility Scheme
  • Government authorised exchanges
  • An international agreement visa

This guide will outline what each Tier 5 visa category requires and give you the information you need to apply. You should bear in mind that applying for UK visas without professional help can mean you have a lower chance of success, so it is always worth seeking advice from. Legal firms like AWH Solicitors offer immigration advice in Manchester where they are based, but also to anyone across the world looking to enter the UK.

Temporary religious workers

If you have been offered a job in a religious setting such as in a convent or monastery, this Tier 5 visa category is right for you. When you apply, you will have to prove that you have been asked to come to the UK by a licensed sponsor in the UK

Whilst you are in the UK you must primarily do work which relates to the work of your sponsor’s organisation or job function. You can also get a second, paying job for up to 20 hours per week if you would like to, but it cannot take priority over your primary role for your sponsor.

You can bring family members with you, but you will not be able to access public funds like benefits during your stay in the UK. You will be able to stay in the UK for up to 24 months, however you may get sponsored for a shorter time period than this, in which case you have until the date your sponsorship ends plus 28 days.

Temporary charity workers

If you have been offered an unpaid or voluntary job in the UK, a Tier 5 temporary charity worker visa is right for you. Like with the religious worker category, you must be able to provide a sponsorship certificate from a registered UK charity with a sponsorship licence and the work you do in the UK must directly relate to the work of that charity.

You can also bring family members with you and stay for up to twelve months. If you get sponsored for shorter amount of time, then you have 28 days additionally past your sponsor end date to stay.

You cannot access public funds or take any payment for the work you do for the charity, but you can take a part-time paid role for up to 20 hours a week if you’d like to.

Temporary creative and sporting workers

The Tier 5 creative and sporting worker visa is aimed at people who are very highly skilled in their role as a sportsperson or creative such as a musician or actor. Like the above two visa categories, you must have a job offer and certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer with a valid sponsorship licence.

If you are applying for this Tier 5 visa category as a sportsperson, you are required to be internationally established and at the top of your game, and/or you have to be able to prove that by taking the job in the UK you will be making a significant contribution to how your sport develops.

As with religious and charity workers, for this visa category, you can bring family with you, take up a part-time paid job, however you cannot access public funds during your stay in the UK. If your visa is granted, you will be allowed to stay in the UK for up to twelve months, or the amount of time detailed on your sponsorship certificate plus an additional 28 days.

The Youth Mobility Scheme

The Youth Mobility Scheme is a programme run in the UK for workers aged 18 to 30 who want to come to the UK for up to two years. The scheme used to be known as the working holiday visa, and is only available to people from the countries listed below:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Korea
  • Taiwan

You can apply for the scheme six months before you travel to the UK, at the earliest. You should get a decision within three weeks of submitting your application. If you are accepted, you’ll be free to enter and leave the UK as you wish for a period of two years, and you will we eligible to study, work, be self-employed and set up a company.

You will not be able to work as a professional sportsperson, or a trainee dentist or doctor. You also cannot extend your stay, access public funds whilst you are here or bring any family members with you using your application. If you have family members who want or need to join you, they have to submit their own application.

Government authorised exchanges

If you are coming to the UK on a governmentally approved work placement scheme, the Tier 5 government authorised exchange visa is right for you. You will likely be looking to get work experience, take part in training, or participate in a language programme in the UK.

You will have to have a certificate of sponsorship from a licenced sponsor such as:

  • An organisation who run a governmentally approved exchange scheme
  • A government department or agency
  • A higher education institution if you are an academic, examiner, or researcher

If you are a researcher, you may be eligible to switch to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa once you are in the UK, which means you could extend your visa for up to an extra two years if you carry out additional research or training.

If you are granted a Tier 5 visa under the government authorized exchange category, you will not be able to take up a permanent job or access public funds whilst in the UK.

An international agreement visa

The Tier 5 international agreement visa is right for you if you have a job offer in the UK which is covered by international law. This might be in a national embassy, or as a domestic worker in a diplomatic household.

As with most Tier 5 visas, you will have to prove that you have a certificate of sponsorship from an organization with a valid sponsorship licence. If you get granted entry via this visa category, you will more than likely be able to stay in the UK for up to two years, however in some cases you will only be allowed to stay for six months in a twelve month period.

Because of the nature of the job you will be undertaking, you are also allowed to travel abroad and return to the UK. However, you will not be allowed to start working before you are granted your visa, or access public funds for the duration of your stay.

General information you should know

You should be aware that none of the Tier 5 visa categories are designed to bring unskilled workers to the UK, so if you want to move to the UK permanently to work full time, this visa isn’t right for you.

It’s also important to know that you can only apply for any of the Tier 5 visas before you come to the UK. The only exception to this rule is if you are currently living in the UK under a Tier 4 student visa and you want to undertake work experience or an internship.

Alongside your application for any of the Tier 5 categories, you will have to pay a health surcharge which will allow you access to the National Health Service (NHS) whilst you’re in the UK.

With all Tier 5 visa categories except for the Youth Mobility Scheme, the earliest you can send your application is three months before you expect to begin work, and you should receive a decision within three weeks of your application.

There are documents which you will need to submit alongside your application too. Immigration solicitors will be able to help you compile your application and will make sure you don’t miss anything out.

If you require assistance with a Tier 5 visa application, immigration solicitors in Manchester, AWH Solicitors will help you determine which category is best for you, advising and guiding you through the process.

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