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This visa route was formerly known as Tier 5 (GAE).

The Government Authorised Exchange (Temporary Work) (GAE) visa category “is for individuals coming to the United Kingdom through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice” and is open to all non-UK/Irish nationals.

In practice, as a Higher Education Institution, we are permitted to use the GAE visa route to sponsor 'researchers' (which includes academics, researchers, scientists, research engineers or other skilled research technology specialists) for a maximum duration of 2 years to undertake the following activities:

  • A formal research project or collaboration*;
  • A period of work-based training/work experience/internship/placement;
  • Skill development/knowledge transfer;
  • A series of lectures, which doesn’t amount to a formal teaching post*;
  • External examinations*.

* Visits of 6 months or less which involve these activities can now be accommodated under the Standard Visitor (business category) visa route.

The full criteria for the Higher Education GAE visa scheme can be downloaded here.


GAE visa eligibility

The manner in which we can engage with an individual through one of the above activities is governed by a strict set of parameters, set out below.

The activities/work:

  • must never amount to ‘a genuine vacancy’ (in other words, the work/activity must be over and above the department/institution's normal staffing requirements, and the role would not be automatically refilled once the individual leaves); and

* Individuals undertaking work shadowing, work experience or internships may not be entitled to the National Minimum Wage due to specific legislative exemptions. Further guidance is available at Individuals funded by Erasmus+ are likewise exempt from the requirement to meet UK NMW.

The individual:

  • may be funded by the University, their overseas employer, or an independent UK or non-UK funding body; and
  • can be our employee, if necessary; and
  • does not have to be employed overseas to be eligible for sponsorship under this scheme; and
  • is permitted to receive funding on a weekly, monthly or annual basis, or in one lump sum; but cannot be self-funded (i.e. funds from savings/loans, a pension, money borrowed from family/friends); and


Other requirements


For GAE applicants, the department can certify that, should it become necessary, you will 'maintain and accommodate' the visitor (and their dependants if you wish) up to the end of the first month of each of their grants of permission.

What does it mean in practice?

This is not a commitment to provide financial support; it simply means that the applicant will not need to submit bank statements with their application. However, you should bear in mind that, if you agree and for some reason it is necessary, you would need to provide the funds up to the amounts below.

If you do not wish to certify the ‘Financial Requirement’, then for visa purposes the individual and each of their dependants must meet these requirements:

  • The following minimum funds must be held, and evidenced, by the applicant in a bank/savings account for at least 28 days:
    • Main applicant - funds of £1,270
    • Spouse/Partner - funds of £285
    • First child - funds of £315
    • Each additional child - funds of £200

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requirement

International researchers who are applying for a GAE visa and who meet the eligibility criteria* must have obtained an ATAS certificate before submitting their visa application. The ATAS requirement only applies to certain nationalities, and in certain roles and research fields.

As part of the ATAS application process, the individual will be required to submit information about their programme of research including the relevant 'CAH3' code. This must be arranged by the recruiting department/institution, via an HR58 form.

* For further guidance on the ATAS scheme and making an application, please see:


Applying for a GAE visa

The University provides a list of FAQs to all GAE visa CoS recipients regarding the processes and procedures to obtain a visa. These are provided by e-mail to the applicant alongside the CoS.

Anyone applying inside the UK must apply for their new visa before their existing visa expires. Failure to do so will jeopardise their ability to continue their visit at the University.


Sponsor duties

To hold a sponsor licence, the University must adhere to requirements set out by the UK government. Please see our Sponsor Duties webpage for full details.


Family members

A GAE visa holder’s family members are allowed to work if they are accompanying or joining them in the UK provided they have the correct visa to do so. Please see our dependant visas webpage for guidance. Family members who come to the UK on a Standard Visitor visa are not permitted to work.



A GAE CoS will cost the faculty/department £25.

The individual is responsible for paying the visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The total cost will depend on the length of the proposed engagement.