With summer fast approaching, employers will be in the process of recruiting for their summer vacation schemes. Employers will also receive applications from students for work placements or work experience opportunities. If you wish to offer internships to overseas non-EEA nationals, what is the appropriate visa route?

If individuals do not already have a visa which will allow them to work, some sponsors may immediately consider Tier 2. However, the Tier 2 visa category is the route generally used to sponsor skilled workers to work in the UK where a suitable resident worker cannot be found to fill a role. There are strict requirements around the skill level (NQF level 6) of the role, sponsors must pay the minimum appropriate rate, and the role must genuinely be vacant. It may therefore not be suitable for a work placement where there is not a vacancy in place.

The Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) category, can allow an individual to work in the UK for up to 12 months, or even 24 months in some circumstances, in accordance with the Certificate of Sponsorship assigned to them. This category can be used by UK companies to employ individuals on UK internships in a supernumerary role.

Companies must first register with the appropriate GAE scheme. Numerous schemes exist and the most appropriate one will largely depend on what is being offered. For an example of a scheme which we helped to develop, please visit the Tier 5 Intern website.