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Government Authorised Exchange Visa

The temporary worker-government-authorised exchange visa is a visa route open to foreign nationals that intend to enter the UK temporarily for work experience or to do training, an Overseas Government Language Programme, research, or a fellowship through an approved government-authorised exchange scheme.

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    What is the Government authorized exchange visa?

    The Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange visa, formerly known as the Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange visa, is a UK Temporary Worker visa aimed at non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens that plan to enter the UK to obtain work experience, for training, fellowship or research at a UK higher education institution as a sponsored researcher funded by their home organization or the UK host. Self-funded researchers cannot apply for the Government authorized exchange visa.

    if you intend to apply for the Government Authorised Exchange visa, you must have a licensed sponsor. This licensed sponsor may be;

    • an organization running an approved exchange scheme;
    • a government department or agency; or
    • a higher education institution for sponsored researchers, examiners, or a visiting academic

    A GAE holder must receive funding that exceeds the UK hourly minimum wage.

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    Eligibility Criteria for the Government Authorized Exchange Visa

    To be eligible for this visa, you must meet the following conditions

    • you must be entering the UK to carry out activities related to the terms of the visa, such as gaining work experience, training, or fellowship.
    • you must be above 18
    • you must have a certificate of sponsorship from your UK sponsor
    • you must have enough money to support yourself in the UK – you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt)

    Certificate of Sponsorship

    The government-authorized exchange visa conditions require you to have a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed sponsor before you can apply to the UK. The work, training, or research you plan to engage in in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organization.

    Your sponsor organization will also provide you with other relevant work information, such as the date you are to resume and your working hours. While applying for your visa, you will submit the certificate of sponsorship reference number as part of your application.

    Once issued, the CoS remains valid for only three months. Meanwhile, the earliest you can apply for a visa is three months before the date you’re due to start work.

    Money to Support Yourself

    Before entering the UK via the Government authorized exchange visa, you must show that you have at least £1,270 in your bank account to support yourself in the UK, at least for the first month, before you start receiving payments.

    This money must be held in your bank account for 28 consecutive days, with day 28 being within 31 days of applying for this visa.

    If your partner and children are also entering the UK as dependents, you must show proof of funds to take care of them. In this case, you will need;

    • £285 for your partner
    • £315 for one child and £200 for each additional child

    If you have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months before applying for the GAE, or your employer is willing to cover up to £1,270 of your living costs during your first month in the UK, then you will not need to show proof of funding.

    If your employer will support you, they must confirm this through your certificate of sponsorship by completing the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section on your certificate.

    Visa Application Process

    You may apply for the Government authorized exchange visa from outside the UK or apply to switch to this visa category while in the UK.

    If you are outside the UK, you must apply online for your visa via the Home Office website (www.gov.uk). The earliest you can apply for this visa is three months before you start work. After completing the application form on the website, as part of your application, you will need to prove your identity. Depending on where you’re from and the type of passport you have, you will either;

    • have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre to get a biometric residence permit, or
    • use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document.

    UK immigration will inform you of which process applies to you after you complete the online application.

    Supporting Documentation

    As part of your application, you will need to submit some supporting documents as proof that you qualify for the exchange visa. All your documents must be in English or Welsh. If not, you must provide certified translations of every document and submit the original copies with the certified translations.

    The documents you will be required to submit include;

    • your certificate of sponsorship reference number;
    • a valid passport or other identity documents;
    • Proof that you can support your stay in the UK unless your employer can sponsor your stay.
    • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test, a valid ATAS certificate if your employer tells you that you need one because your job involves researching a sensitive subject at Ph.D. level or higher

    If you plan on bringing your partner or children with you as dependents, you must provide documents proving their relationship with you.

    Switching to the Government authorized exchange visa

    If you are in the UK on a different visa type, you can apply to switch to this visa category. You must make an application before your current visa expires. You must apply to change to this visa category online.

    You can only apply to switch to an exchange visa if you are;

    • a student, studying, resitting an examination, or writing a thesis
    • a student union sabbatical officer
    • a student nurse
    • a postgraduate doctor or dentist
    • a student visa holder
    • a sponsored researcher who came to the UK on a work permit and wants to continue in the same job with your sponsor

    In addition, you must meet the other eligibility requirements as stipulated. If your partner and children are also applying to change, they must make a separate application.

    You will be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Servies (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo). You will also need to submit your supporting documents.

    While your application is processing, you must not travel outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do.

    Visa Application Fees

    When you apply for the government-authorized exchange visa, you and any other dependent that applies with you will have to pay the application fees and the healthcare surcharge.

    Currently, the application fee is £259 for each applicant. Whether you are applying from within or outside the UK, this application fee remains the same.

    Besides the application fee, you will have to pay the healthcare surcharge, usually £624 per year.

    You will have to pay a separate healthcare surcharge for each family member.

    Visa Processing Time

    If you are outside the UK, once you have applied online, proved your identity, and submitted all required supporting documents, you will usually get a visa decision within three weeks. However, it may take longer to get a decision if high volumes of applications come through the Home Office.

    If you require a faster decision, you may pay for priority service or super priority service that will enable you to collect your visa within five days or one day, respectively.

    If you applied to switch to a government-authorized exchange visa from inside the UK, you would get a decision within eight (8) weeks if you apply through the standard service. However, if you require a faster decision, you can pay an extra £800 for super priority service, which will allow you to get a decision by the next working day after your UKVCAS appointment.

    How Long Can you Stay in the UK?

    After receiving your exchange visa, you can enter the UK up to 14 days before the start date of your job. How long you can stay in the UK will depend on what you plan to do while in the UK. Typically, this visa will allow you to stay in the UK;

    • for 12 months if you undertake a role to gain work experience or the length of time on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.
    • For 24 months, if you are doing research, training, or an Overseas Government Language Programme or the length of time on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.

    Before your current visa expires, if you require more time to stay in the UK and complete your work, you can apply for an extension of your visa. You must meet the eligibility requirements and apply online. Your partner and children must also apply for an extension separately.

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      What you can do in the UK

      When you are in the UK on a GAE visa, you are allowed to;

      • study;
      • work in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
      • take up a second job in addition to your main job for no more than 20 hours per week. This job must be on the shortage occupation list.
      • switch to a Exceptional Talent visa if you are in the government-authorized exchange scheme for sponsored researchers

      This visa does not allow you to take a permanent job in the UK or access public funds.

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        How can Total Law Help?

        Total law’s team of immigration attorneys is vastly experienced in assisting individuals entering the UK to undertake approved internships, training, research programmes, or gain work experience. Our lawyers will help you through the entire process, from start to finish.

        We will help you determine your eligibility for this visa, help you gather the supporting documents, including the certificate of sponsorship from your employing organization, and help you ensure that your application is successful and you achieve your dreams of working in the UK.

        Our immigration attorneys are highly dedicated, easily approachable, and always on hand 24/7 to answer your queries and provide you with all the support you need. Do not hesitate to reach out to us at 0333 305 9375. Alternatively, you can use the online form to get in touch.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  If your application for a Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange  Visa is refused, quickly contact Total Law. Our excellent immigration lawyers will help you assess your situation to understand what you may have missed and then help you launch a fresh standard application that will guarantee your acceptance.

                  The government-authorized exchange visa is typically open to persons above 18. However, suppose you are below 18 on the date of your application. In that case, you will be able to make an application provided you have written parental consent confirming support for your application, your living and care arrangements, and your travel to and reception in the UK. The written consent must be provided by both of your parents or your legal guardian.