What is the UK’s Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange Scheme?
May 12, 2022
By: Pina Mistry, Jonathan Cunningham
The Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange Scheme is intended for those who want to come to the UK:
- For a temporary period of time for work experience, job shadowing or training;
- To take part in an Overseas Government Language Programme
- To undertake research or a fellowship through an approved exchange scheme.
Typically, this route would be applicable to those seeking an internship as part of degree level studies overseas or for internships/work placements for new graduates wanting to take their first career steps in their chosen field. Due to the rapid growth of the global technology sector and a clear desire by international governments to attract more investment in this area, internships within the industry are very much ‘in-vogue’ at the moment as people look to gain experience to kick start their career in this sector.
The tech industry relies on internships to source talent and provide valuable work experience to those they seek to attract. Talent is sourced on a global basis, which can present challenges when looking to obtain immigration permission.
Immigration permission for internships
Internships, by nature, should be additional to normal staffing requirements, but they do require ‘hands-on work’ and, therefore, neither the Skilled Worker route nor the Business Visitor route are appropriate where you find a candidate who requires immigration permission. The only UK visa category suitable for an internship would be the Temporary Worker Government Authorised Exchange (TW GAE) route.
How can Fragomen assist
Rather than sponsoring an intern via a company-held sponsor licence, which is how the skilled worker route operates, the sponsor under the TW GAE scheme must be a separate overarching body approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to ‘sponsor’ such individuals to undertake the internship. Fragomen LLP have been approved by UKVI to hold such a sponsor licence, the Fragomen International Internship Scheme, which we have had in place for over ten years.
We are the only immigration services provider to have been granted this licence and can help tech companies to manage the immigration aspects of the end to end internship process, including the full visa application. As part of our service, we can fully assess whether the applicant will be able to meet the criteria of our scheme as well as the underlying rules set by UKVI. We can also provide full legal representation for the business and the applicant throughout the application process.
Under our International Internship Scheme, we can sponsor individuals to undertake an internship for up to 12 months. If the internship is six months or less, it will be exempt from paying the health surcharge, which is normally set at £624 per year. The internship role must be additional to normal staffing requirements and must be at a sufficient skill level. In this case, ‘RQF level 3,’ which is essentially the same skill level that needs to be met under the Skilled Worker category.
What are the benefits to the business?
As the tech sector is a very competitive and a somewhat niche industry, getting ahead of the game to secure the brightest and most innovative talent is key. These individuals are often at the start of their careers or still in education, representing untapped talent with the potential to add high value to your organisation and the sector.
Using our scheme, you can get a feel for the candidate’s skill set and suitability for your business, with the option of offering a full-time role in the future through sponsorship as a Skilled Worker (if your business is licensed and authorised to do so by UKVI). Utilising the internship scheme, therefore, allows you to secure talent for your organisation that may otherwise be missed under more conventional hiring practices.
We believe that this scheme presents a win-win situation for candidates and the business. Candidates get the benefit of learning about the tech industry, as well as gaining crucial experience and insight into the sector. The business benefits from the input of the intern and their early recruitment into the business. This gives the business a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting for longer-term roles, as they are well positioned to retain the strongest candidates after the internship and place them into permanent positions within the organisation.
Need to know more?
For further information, please contact [email protected]. This blog was published Friday, 13 May 2022. The UK Immigration Rules change frequently. To keep up-to-date with all the latest updates on global immigration, please visit our dedicated COVID-19 site, subscribe to our alerts and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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