Staff Immigration

Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)

The University holds a licence to sponsor individuals under Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) of the points based system.

This scheme aims to ‘share knowledge, experience and best practice’ without harming the resident labour market. 

This scheme allows individuals to undertake research programmes and fellowships on a scientific, academic, medical, or government research project at a UK Higher Education Institution for a maximum of 24 months.

Researchers are usually employed by an overseas institution, and/or may have been awarded a grant to fund their research in the UK.  They are not employed by the University, but are collaborating on research projects within the University on a temporary basis.

Sponsored researchers

The Home Office defines a ‘sponsored researcher’ as a person who wishes to come to the UK to lead or to take part in any formal research project.  Formal research projects are those hosted but not necessarily funded by a UK research institution including universities, non-commercial research organisations, charitable organisations and national research councils (such as the Medical Research Council). The sponsored researcher fills a research post and works under the full or partial control of the institution, which will itself benefit from the research. Sponsored researchers can be funded from sources in the UK or overseas.


In order to be eligible to visit under Tier 5 (GAE), the individual and/or the expected activities must:

  • be undertaking occasional lectures, examining or taking part in sponsored research
  • not be filling a genuine vacancy
  • be supernumerary – that is, their work must be in addition to the University’s normal staffing needs
  • be skilled, at NQF3 level or above (equivalent to A-level)
  • conform to UK and European employment legislation – for example, they must receive at least the national minimum wage
  • must not be self-funded
  • have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship
  • be able to support themselves and their dependents without recourse to public funds
  • intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit which must be no more than 24 months
  • apply for entry clearance

Visa conditions

Tier 5 (GAE) visa holders must observe the following conditions:

  • They will have no access to state benefits;
  • They will register with the police within the required timeframe and report any changes to the police, as required (it should be clear on the migrant's visa whether they are required to register with the police);
  • They will not start up or run a business.

Supplementary employment

In addition to the work for which their visa was issued, Tier 5 (GAE) visa holders may take up supplementary work so long as the following conditions are observed:

  • The supplementary work is in the same profession as the job specified on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS);
  • The supplementary work is at the same professional level as the work specified on the CoS, e.g. the funding/salary is at the same level;
  • The supplementary research is for no more than 20 hours per week; and
  • The supplementary research is outside the working hours covered by the CoS.


UKVI do not consider research and teaching as the same profession. Therefore, a researcher would not normally be permitted to give lectures for another department/organisation as 'supplementary employment'.

If, however, a researcher has some lecturing responsibilities as part of the role for which their Tier 5 CoS was issued, and the lecturing responsibilities were noted on the CoS, then the migrant may give additional lectures as 'supplementary employment', providing this also complies with the above rules.

Sponsor duties

Record keeping

HR are responsible for keeping the below documentation for visitors sponsored under Tier 5 (GAE).

While the migrant is being sponsored, or for one year, whichever is the shorter:

  • Letter from the funding body confirming the level and dates of funds and allowances payable to the migrant;
  • Copies of degree certificates etc. (translations must be "certified" with the name and qualifications of the translator);
  • Absence record
  • History of changes to contact details (e.g. residential address, telephone number, mobile telephone number). back to top

Reporting responsibilities

The University is responsible for reporting within 10 days to UK Visas & Immigration:

  • If a sponsored migrant does not turn up for his or her first day;
  • If a sponsored migrant is absent for more than ten working days, without the sponsor's reasonably granted permission;
  • If the migrant's research is terminated for any reason before the end date on their visa;
  • If the sponsor stops sponsoring the migrant for any other reason (e.g. if the migrant moves into an immigration route that does not require a sponsor);
  • If there are significant changes in the migrant's circumstances, for example a change of role, work address, hours or funding.   Prior to changes in conditions being approved, confirmation that the change would not require a new visa should be sought;
  • If there are any suspicions that a migrant is breaching the conditions of his or her leave, for example, use of un-permitted public funds, criminal activity, or terrorism.
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Immigration - © University of Kent

The Registry, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 824998

Last Updated: 08/08/2019

Banner Image: Anne Worner