As we have consistently advised, it is inappropriate for sponsors to use Tier 2 (general) to sponsor overseas students who come into the UK to undertake internships. The UK Border Agency approached Penningtons in 2009 to work on a solution to this issue and we created the Tier 5 intern scheme with GTI recruiting solutions. The intern scheme is specifically designed to enable businesses to continue to hire interns from abroad without putting their Tier 2 licences at risk. Full information about the scheme and how to apply can be found here.
Where a sponsor has used Tier 2 (general) to sponsor interns, unfortunately if the intern is to work for the sponsor in the future under Tier 2 then, under the rules introduced by the UKBA on 6 April 2012, the individual will be subject to the 12 month cooling off period before they can return to the UK under Tier 2. However, where the intern came into the UK under one of the Tier 5 intern schemes, they will not be subject to the cooling off period.
Please note that we are currently negotiating with the UKBA to amend some of the rules relating to the cooling off period which appear to have created unintended consequences and we will provide updates when we have further information to report.