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Government Authorised Exchange

This Scheme is aimed at researchers and students looking for placements who are in the late stages of their studies and are looking for work experience or research opportunities in the United Kingdom.

Internships/research posts

There are at present a claimed 41 separate schemes to which individuals may apply in order to come to the United Kingdom to undertake internships and research posts for a duration of 12 to 24 months. The relevant umbrella institutions that sponsor overseas nationals are listed here:

The Sponsoring bodies, broadly fall into two definitions: Higher Educational institutions and Certain private companies who are able to sponsor under the Government Authorised exchange scheme directly.

Umbrella professional organisations, that act as overarching body for membership organisations. For example, the Bar Council of England and Wales that regulates Barristers, will offer sponsorship for the Pegasus programmes run by the Inner Temple for overseas lawyers.

The schemes are broadly aimed at those with a vocational intention to pursue a particular career.

Advice on identifying a scheme suitable for you is beyond the scope of this note. Referring to other links may lead to frustration. By way of illustration, please see Practice Note Visa for interns and work placements.

If you are attending a University, it is possible that their careers section would be able to guide you with existing schemes with partner Universities. Appended to this article are the fruits of my own enquiries.

The remainder of the note is limited to those who wish to come to the United Kingdom having obtained a position on a government authorised exchange scheme.

Application criteria - Government Authorised Exchange Scheme

Once an appropriate internship has been awarded, the applicant will need to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship to the Sponsoring body.

The Certificate of Sponsorship triggers eligibility for the application, which must be submitted within three months of its issue. Additional criteria must be met. Specifically:

  • The applicant must not be excluded on account of past conduct (as defined in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules)
  • The applicant must meet the financial threshold (of currently £1270 de minimis balance in the bank account for a period of 28 days)
  • The applicant must have paid the Home Office fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge fee

The post must be supernumerary, and not that of a vacancy to be filled by the employer. No other work is permitted. (Save that there is an exception contained in a Rule that does not exist) There is a further requirement that the Visa Officer must accept that the applicant is genuinely able and intends to meet the requirements to the post. The Visa Officer is likely to seek further information where he or she believes on the information submitted there are reasons to doubt the genuine nature of the post.

Permission to enter or to stay will be granted for a period of 12 months up to a total of 24 months. Students may apply to switch into this category otherwise a visa from overseas is required.

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