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What to know about UK’s Government Authorized Exchange work visa  

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If you intend to visit the UK temporarily for purposes like obtaining work experience, training, an Overseas Government Language Programme, research, or a fellowship via an approved government-authorized exchange program, you can apply for a Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) visa. 

Among the numerous visa options available, the Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) Work Visa happens to be little known, yet it is a cost-effective, flexible, and straightforward option in the UK visa spectrum, appealing to employers and employees alike. 

The United Kingdom has long been a favoured destination for individuals aspiring to advance their careers on a global scale, hence this type of visa offers a trial period for development, education, and exploration in the British professional landscape. 

So for those who aim to make an impact globally, the GAE Work Visa is a good route to a gateway to a world of opportunities. 

While Tier 2 (General) work visas often steal the spotlight, the GAE Work Visa offers a distinctive path for those seeking internships, fellowships, and other short-term employment opportunities in the UK. 

This visa is tailored to promote professional growth and international collaboration, providing international talent with valuable experience in dynamic workplaces. 

To enter the UK through the Government Authorized Exchange route, individuals can participate in one of the authorized program schemes listed below. 

  • AIESEC internships 
  • Bar Council 
  • BAE Systems Training, Intern and Graduate Programme 
  • BNSC Satellite KHTT Programme 
  • BUNAC Blue Card Internships – ‘Intern in Britain’ 
  • Chatham House Fellowship 
  • Chevening and Marshall Sherfield Fellowships Programmes 
  • China-UK Mandarin Teachers Scheme 
  • Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan 
  • Defence Academy 
  • Diplomatic Missions Interns Scheme 
  • Engineering work placement scheme 
  • Erasmus 
  • European Voluntary Service (Youth in Action Programme) 
  • Finance Ministries and Central Banks scheme 
  • Foreign Language Assistants Programme 
  • Glasgow Caledonian University International exchange programme 
  • International Horticulture Scheme 
  • International Internship Scheme 
  • International Optometrists Scheme 
  • Khebrat Leadership for Change Programme 
  • Law Society GAE scheme for migrant lawyers 
  • Lord Chancellor’s Training Scheme for Young Chinese Lawyers 
  • Medical Training Initiative 
  • Medical Training Initiative for Dentistry 
  • Mountbatten Programme 
  • NIM China Secondee Programme 
  • NPL Guest Worker and Secondment Scheme 
  • Scottish Government Interchange Scheme 
  • Serious Fraud Office 
  • Sponsored Researchers 
  • The Ofgem International Staff Exchange Scheme 
  • GTI intern scheme 
  • UK Research and Innovation – Science, Research and Academia 
  • US-UK Education Commission (also known as the US-UK Fulbright Commission) 

Sponsorship: Your Ticket to the UK 

Before initiating the GAE Work Visa application process, it is important to secure a certificate of sponsorship from an authorized sponsor.

This certificate plays a crucial role as it contains a reference number that validates both your employment and personal particulars. 

It is essential that your association with the sponsoring organization aligns with the purpose of your training, research, or employment in the UK.

Eligible sponsors are recognized exchange programs, universities, government institutions, or qualifying companies. 

The visa application procedure entails online submission, identity verification, and document submission.

The processing duration varies based on your location: 3 weeks if you are outside the UK and 8 weeks if you are already residing within the country. 

For those in urgent need of expedited processing, options are available, varying for applicants located inside and outside the UK. 

Financial Considerations 

To obtain the GAE Work Visa, each applicant, including dependents, must cover the following expenses: 

  • Application fee: £259 per applicant, regardless of application location. 
  • Healthcare surcharge: Typically £624 per year, though the exact amount may vary. Verify the applicable surcharge for your situation. 
  • Savings requirement: You must demonstrate access to a minimum of £1,270, which must be in your account for at least 28 consecutive days, with day 28 falling within 31 days of your visa application. Your employer can cover up to £1,270 of your initial month’s expenses in the UK. Additionally, family members applying with you must prove their ability to support themselves. 

Duration of Stay 

The length of your stay in the UK under the GAE Work Visa is determined by your visa’s validity period, which can be either 12 or 24 months, depending on the program.

You may enter the UK up to 14 days before your employment start date and stay up to 14 days after your employment ends, provided you adhere to the specified visa dates. 

Eligibility Criteria 

To qualify for the GAE Work Visa, you must meet the following requirements: 

  • Possess a valid UK sponsor’s certificate of sponsorship reference number, which is valid for three months. 
  • Demonstrate financial capability to support yourself and dependents. 
  • Ensure your employment complies with UK labour laws, including minimum wage and working hours regulations. 

Document Checklist 

When applying for the GAE Work Visa, you will need to provide several documents, including: 

  • Sponsorship certificate reference number from your employer 
  • Valid passport or proof of identity and nationality 
  • Bank statements to demonstrate financial capability 
  • Relationship documentation for family members 
  • Tuberculosis test results (if required) 
  • ATAS certificate (if applicable) 
  • Permission to stay or re-enter the UK letter from a government or scholarship organization 
  • An empty page in your passport for the visa stamp 
  • Certified translations for non-English or non-Welsh documents. 

What you can and cannot do 

You can and you are allowed to: 

  • Pursue studies (for certain courses, you may require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate). 
  • Engage in the job specified in your certificate of sponsorship. 
  • Hold a second job for up to 20 hours per week. 
  • Work in a job listed on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list for up to 20 hours per week, in addition to your primary job. 
  • Bring your eligible partner and children with you as ‘dependants.’ 

However, there are restrictions: 

  • You cannot accept a permanent job. 
  • You are not eligible for public funds. 

How to Apply 

Applications for those both outside and inside the UK should visit the link for details  

For those outside the UK, the GAE Work Visa application process involves providing identification documentation, which can be done through a visa application centre or by scanning identity documents using the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app.

The specific procedure may vary depending on your country of origin and passport type. 

If you are already in the UK, you can either switch to the GAE Work Visa or extend your existing one. 

 


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