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Immigration Corner | What is a Tier 5 visa?

Published:Monday | January 7, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I find your column very interesting and I have a question for you that I hope you can throw some light on. What is a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - International Agreement) visa and who can qualify for it? Hopefully, you will respond to my query.


Dear SB,

Persons can apply for a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - International Agreement) visa if they are from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland and they will be contracted to do work covered by international law while in the United Kingdom (UK). For example, working for a foreign government or as a private servant in a diplomatic household. Those persons may also need to meet the other eligibility requirements.

Persons who apply will need to be sponsored; that is, have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed employer before they can apply to go to the UK.

A certificate of sponsorship is a unique reference number that holds information about the applicant and the job. It is not an actual certificate or paper document. The sponsor will provide the applicant with the certificate of sponsorship and will also give the applicant the information used on the certificate about the job and working hours, for example.

It should be noted that the sponsor must be recognised by the UK government to issue certificates of sponsorship. Please be aware that the certificate of sponsorship is valid for three months from the date it is assigned to the applicant. The sponsor is also able to give the applicant a multiple-entry certificate of sponsorship, so he/she can leave and return to the UK.




In addition, the work that he/she does over there must relate to the work of the sponsor organisation. The applicant must also have at least £945 in savings - this is to prove that he/she can support him/herself and this amount must have been in the bank account for 90 days before the application was made.

However, persons will not need £945 in savings if they are fully approved by a ('A-rated') sponsor who has stated on the certificate of sponsorship that they will certify the applicant's maintenance and that the applicant will not claim benefits during their stay.

The earliest that a person can apply for a visa is three months before the date that he/she is due to start work and this date will be on the certificate of sponsorship. Persons should get a decision on their visa within three weeks of making the application. Persons should check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country from where the application is being made.

Fees that persons will pay for a Tier 5 visa will depend on their situation, where they are, and how they apply. The cost for persons who are applying individually from outside the UK or extending or switching in the UK is £244. Also, if persons are making an application for a dependent in either category, the cost is also £244 each. Please be aware that the applicant will also have to pay a healthcare surcharge as part of their application. Persons are advised to check how much they will need to pay before applying.


Two years


If successful, in most cases persons will be able to stay for two years, or the time given on their certificate of sponsorship plus up to 28 days, whichever is shorter.

However, in certain cases, persons can only stay for six months in any 12-month period, or the time given on their certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter. This generally applies if that person is providing a service: under contract as set out in the General Agreement on Trade in Services; under similar trade agreements, such as the EU-Chile free trade agreement.

Please note that persons can enter the United Kingdom 14 days before the start date on their certificate of sponsorship. Persons may be asked to leave there within 60 days if their job finishes early. However, it is unlikely persons will have to leave if their visa has less than 60 days remaining.

The successful applicant will be allowed to:

- Study - for some courses, but he/she will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme Certificate.

- Work for the sponsor in the job described in the certificate of sponsorship.

- Do a second job on the Tier 2 shortage occupation list or one in the same sector as their main job for up to 20 hours per week (unless employed as a private servant, a contractual service supplier or an independent professional).

- Study, as long as it does not interfere with the job sponsored for.

- Travel abroad and return to the United Kingdom.

- Take family members with him/her.

Persons cannot get access to public funds and/or start working before they get their visa.

I hope this helps.

- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK).