Applying for Internship in the UK from 1 January 2021 from Abroad

An internship is where you want to come to the UK for a short time for work experience or to do training.

Up until 31 December 2020 it is not necessary for an EU national to have a work visa to carry out an internship in the UK. That changes on 1 January 2021. From that date, any non UK national (the only exception are Irish nationals), will require a work visa to carry out an internship in the UK. Otherwise it will not be possible.

The specific type of visa for this purpose is a Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) visa. This requires you to find a sponsor under Tier 5.

You can find a full and up-to-date list of sponsors on the “Register of Sponsors Licensed Under the Points-Based System” issued by the Home Office. The sponsor list is a published record of organisations licensed to sponsor workers under Tier 5 of the points-based system and it is updated every day.

There are many Tier 5 GAE overarching bodies which sponsor a host of supernumerary roles across various sectors. A full list of the approved Tier 5 GAE overarching bodies can be found at Immigration Rules Appendix N: authorised exchange schemes – Immigration Rules – Guidance – GOV.UK (

You must have at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 days before you apply to show you can support yourself. But this will not be required if you have been in the UK with a visa for 12 months or your sponsor company confirms they will cover the costs for 1 month.

Once you have found your sponsor and have been offered a job, you will be issued with a certificate of sponsorship by your sponsor.

You can stay in the UK normally for up to 12 months but it can be up to 24 months depending on the scheme you are applying for.

There is a visa fee of around £250, a government health charge (to allow you to use the National Health Service for free) and a biometrics charge.

Tom Redfern