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Human Resources

T5 Government Authorised Exchange

What is the Sponsored Researcher Scheme?

If you are a PhD student and your research with QMUL / UK will be contributing to your PhD / thesis, this is not an appropriate visa route. We may be able to support you under another visa route. please see the tab under:

The Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange scheme enables Queen Mary to sponsor researchers, including academics, researchers, scientists, research engineers or other skilled research technology specialists, to come to the UK on a temporary basis.

The work or activities undertaken must never amount to what the Home Office terms ‘a genuine vacancy’. In accordance with the Home Office rules, the role must be over and above the University's normal staffing requirements, and the role would not be automatically refilled once the post holder leaves.

The work or activities undertaken must never amount to what the Home Office terms ‘a genuine vacancy’. In accordance with the Home Office rules, the role must be supernumerary over and above the University's normal staffing requirements, and the role would not be automatically refilled once the post holder leaves.

Supernumerary role

All roles sponsored on the route must be supernumerary, meaning that the role is over and above any normal staffing requirement and does not fill a vacancy. The route cannot be used to facilitate the supply of labour.

Potential indicators that the role is not supernumerary include:

  • the salary arrangements exceed what would normally be expected for an individual undertaking the programme the applicant is applying to undertake - for example, where the salary is high enough that a worker in that role would meet the salary requirements on another Worker or Temporary Worker route for which that role is eligible
  • the job description or information provided about the role suggests it is not in addition to normal staffing requirements - for example, their working hours exceed 37 hours per week for a full-time role

The researcher may be funded by their host, their overseas employer, or an independent UK or non-UK funding body. The researcher cannot be self-funded and must be in receipt of funding in line with, or above, the National Minimum Wage.  Visitors under this scheme can come to the UK for a maximum of two years and will require a certificate of sponsorship.

Who can use the scheme?

As an A-rated sponsor, Queen Mary University of London is able to sponsor individuals to undertake the following activities:

  • A formal research project or collaboration (peer to peer)
  • 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

How do I obtain sponsorship

In order to apply for a Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange visa you will require a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). This is an electronic document issued by the Home Office.  It is the responsibility of the host department, not the individual, to request a Certificate of Sponsorship from Human Resources. If you believe that this is the most appropriate route for your visit to the UK please speak with your host department and ask them to contact HR to commence the sponsorship process. 

Each CoS request will be assessed by HR to ensure it meets the terms of the sponsored researcher scheme.  To enable HR to process a request for a Tier 5 CoS the individual and department will need to provide additional supporting documents describing the purpose and length of the visit, information regarding the funding of the visit, and the individual’s personal information.

A request for a Certificates of Sponsorship must be arranged by the hiring department not the individual, they cannot be issued without confirmation that the eligibility criteria has been met. 

The below form Temporary Work application form will need to be completed by the department and the visitor.

GAE Application Form [DOC 147KB]

Ordinarily for activities allowed such as peer to peer research, you will need to prepare the following documents for our assessment:

  • Copy of passport (data page)
  • Confirmation of funding for the visit (e.g. copy of financial sponsorship letter)
  • (If you are a member of staff) Letter from your employer confirming your employment overseas, mentioning your job title
  • Copies of any previous Tier 5 or GAE visas
  • Copies / information of any previous visa refusals and declare any periods of overstay in the UK or any other country (staying in a country after visa had already expired)
  • Any other relevant information or documents e.g. ATAS clearance certificate

Once you have a Certificate of Sponsorship

Once you have a Certificate of Sponsorship you will be able to commence your visa application.  Applications are generally made online via the Home Office's website

The following information will assist you with your application.

On receipt of your Certificate of Sponsorship you will be able to make an application for the relevant visa.  You will need to quote the CoS number in your visa application and may need a printed copy of this document when you arrive in the UK. Please note that we will certified maintenance on your CoS so you will not need to provide proof of savings.

Before making your application please familiarise yourself with the UKVI guidance on the Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange visa

Please note: The Certificate of Sponsorship is not a guarantee that you will be granted a visa, you will still need to meet the minimum points requirements in order to qualify. 

Applications are generally made online via the Home Office's website

After you submit your application you will need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit). You will be able to book an appointment as part of your application. 

Under Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange, you must score the following points in order to obtain a visa:

  • 30 points for possessing a valid Certificate of Sponsorship; and
  • 10 points for Maintenance.


Queen Mary is classed as an A-rated sponsor and as such can certify the maintenance of sponsored candidates. This means that the University provides a guarantee that you will have enough money to support yourself for the first month of employment and it will not be necessary to submit any evidence of funds as part of your visa application.  This is on a case by case basis, and will be reviewed as part of the assessment. Please be aware that you are therefore not able to claim state benefits.

You have three months in which to make use of your CoS, please allow yourself enough time to ensure you make your application. You will also need to ensure that you have your visa and travel arrangements made before your start date.  It is advisable that you do not make your travel arrangements until after you have secured your visa. 

If you experience problems or delays that will affect your arrival in the UK, please contact your HR team. Please also be aware that we can only delay your start date up to 28 days, any longer than that might affect your ability to enter the UK and may require a new CoS.

You can also check the guide processing times to see how long getting a visa might take in your country.

The fee for your visa will vary depending on your individual's circumstances (location, service option you chose, whether dependent visas are also required, etc.).  You can find details of current fees on the UK Visas and Immigration website

Your CoS is only valid for one use. If your visa application is rejected you cannot use the same CoS again. The Home Office will provide with the reason for rejection, please contact your local HR team with the reason for rejection so that we can discuss the next steps for your employment at Queen Mary. 

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is for security clearance from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for reseachers working in subjects where the employee’s knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery. 

From 21 May 2021 the scheme will be extended to academics and researchers sponsored under the Government Authorised Exchange visa route. 

If you are a researcher undertaking research activities, at PhD level or above, in mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine and require sponsorship under the Government Authorised Exchange to work in the UK then you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate. 

Nationals of EU countries, the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States of America do not need an ATAS certificate.

Please note that if you are required to provide an ATAS certificate you will need to make an application before Queen Mary can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship. 

ATAS applications are free and submitted online. The certificate will be sent to you by email.

Find Our More

Find out more about the subjects and occupations that are affected by the ATAS requirements

You need an ATAS certificate if you are undertaking research in certain proliferation sensitive subjects in the UK.

Academic researchers making an application on the Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange route may need to apply for, and be granted, ATAS certification before making their visa or permission to stay application. Employment contracts do not have to be finalised before an ATAS application is made. Queen Mary will advise whether an ATAS is required.

Researchers already in the UK

Individuals who are already conducting research in the UK will not need to apply for an ATAS certificate unless they apply for a new Visa or apply to extend your current visa.

Those who were a visitor conducting research in the UK before the ATAS requirement was introduced on 21 May 2021 will not need to apply for an ATAS certificate to continue this research. They will however need to obtain an ATAS certificate the next time they return to the UK to conduct research.

If the individual's changes their field of research or changes where they conduct their research then they will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate.

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