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Intern Visas to Work in the UK

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If you have graduated from an overseas university or you are expecting to do so in 2023 then you may be interested to learn whether you can apply for an intern visa so you can work in the UK and gain some UK work experience to add to your CV.

In this article, our immigration solicitors explain that whilst there is no such thing as an ‘intern visa’ there are plenty of UK visa options for those looking to intern in the UK.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors    

For advice on visas and UK immigration law call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Intern work visa options

If you are planning to come to the UK as an intern or to gain work experience to add to your resume you may think that, depending on your country of origin, you either do not need a visa or that a visitor visa will suffice because you are not planning to live and work in the UK permanently.

Talk to a specialist immigration solicitor about applying for a visitor visa before you make an application to the Home Office. That’s because if you enter the UK either without a visa or on a visitor visa you are only entitled to do permissible business or work-related activities. Intern roles may not fall within permissible activities.

The point about correct visas is important because if you gain UK entry clearance on the wrong type of visa, and the Home Office discovers the nature of your activities in the UK, the breach of immigration rules could affect your immigration record. That could make it harder for you to secure a work visa or family visa if you decide that you want to settle in the UK.

If you are looking at UK intern options then the following visa options may be relevant to your situation:

  • The government authorised exchange visa
  • The Youth Mobility Scheme visa
  • The graduate visa

The options are not limited to the above 3 visas. For example, if you are married or in a relationship with a British citizen, or a person with settled status in the UK, you may qualify for a family visa. If you secure entry clearance on a family or partner visa there are no work restrictions so you can intern. Alternatively, even if you only intend to work in the UK on a time-limited basis, you may qualify for the skilled worker visa if you can find a UK employer who is willing to sponsor your work visa and employment.

The government authorised exchange visa

The government authorised exchange visa allows you to come to the UK temporarily for sponsored work experience, research, or training. As this is a sponsored route your employer will need a Home Office-issued sponsor licence to allocate you with a certificate of sponsorship to enable you to apply for your visa.

Although the scheme is more restrictive than the graduate visa it does allow you to work for or train with your sponsor. There are no restrictions on the type of work or training or research you can do for the employer provided that it relates to your sponsor’s business activities.

Unlike the skilled worker visa, there is no minimum salary threshold applicable to the government authorised exchange visa. However, you will only be able to stay in the UK for 12 months or 2 years (depending on your activities) and the route does not lead to UK settlement.

A bonus of this type of visa is that the scheme enables you to carry out part-time paid employment in addition to the intern work or training that is the main focus of your UK entry clearance.

The Youth Mobility Scheme

The Youth Mobility Scheme allows nationals of a specified number of countries to come to the UK for up to 2 years. The scheme is age-related - you need to be between 18 to 30 to meet the eligibility criteria.

Depending on your nationality you may need to enter a ballot to be chosen to apply to the Home Office for entry on the Youth Mobility Scheme.  Some scheme rules depend on nationality. For example, there is an Indian Young Professional Scheme specifically catering to applications from Indian nationals who have successfully secured a ballot entry.

You can apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme without needing to enter a ballot if you are a national of:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • San Marino
  • Iceland

Countries where you need to secure a ballot entry before you can apply for the visa include:

  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

In addition, there is the Indian Young Professionals Scheme.

You will also meet the eligibility criteria to apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa if you are a person who is a British overseas citizen or you hold British national (overseas) status.

The immigration rules say you cannot apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa if you have children under 18 living with you or who are financially dependent on you. You are also barred from applying for this visa if you have previously secured entry clearance on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

The graduate visa

The graduate visa is flexible but you can only apply for the graduate visa if you have been an international student in the UK and you are still in the UK on a student visa at the time of your graduate visa application.

Unlike sponsored work visa routes, you are not restricted to only finding employment with a UK employer who holds a sponsor licence and you can carry out any type of work. The graduate visa is therefore more flexible than the skilled worker visa. However, it is restricted to international students who studied and graduated in the UK on student visas.

Immigration solicitors say there are a range of visa options that may suit your requirements, depending on your qualifications, the intern role you are seeking, and how long you want to intern in the UK.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors    

For advice on visa options and UK immigration law call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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