Tier 5 Visa Sponsorship

Charitable organisations wishing to take on a volunteer from outside of the European Union, may sponsor the worker under the Tier 5 Temporary Workers – Charity workers immigration category. Charities must first obtain permission from the Home Office in the form of a sponsor licence.

Tier 5 Sponsor licence

The purpose of the sponsorship system is to ensure that a worker from overseas will fill a genuine vacancy and it involves a pledge from the sponsor, the charity, that it will fulfil all of the duties expected of it when sponsoring the overseas volunteer.

To apply for a licence, the charity must be a registered, excepted or exempt UK charity in line with the relevant charity legislation in force, or an ecclesiastical corporation (either corporation sole or body corporate), established for charitable purposes.

Since the UK government places significant trust in sponsoring organisations, it is expected that the sponsor will act in accordance with the UK Immigration rules and guidance. The application for a sponsor licence will only be granted on the condition that the charity can demonstrate the following:

  • That it is a genuine organisation, operating lawfully in the UK;
  • That the organisation is run and managed by honest, dependable and reliable members;
  • That systems in place enabling the organisation to carry out sponsorship duties, including (but not limited to) a responsible recruitment process, sensible human resources practices, recordkeeping and monitoring of employees and volunteers;
  • That the organisation can offer genuine voluntary fieldwork which contributes directly to the achievement or advancement of the organisation’s charitable purpose

Voluntary work

Charities may only sponsor volunteers to perform ‘voluntary fieldwork’, which would not normally be offered at a waged or salaried rate and which contribute directly to the achievement or advancement of the organisation’s charitable purpose and it does not include work ancillary to the charity’s purpose, such as administrative work.

This category cannot be used by the charity to temporarily fill a position which is required on a permanent basis and it must guarantee that the volunteer will not receive any form of payment of remuneration, including benefits in kind, (except reasonable expenses).

Tier 5 Charity worker visa

An application for the Tier 5 visa will need to be made by the volunteer on the basis of a Certificate of Sponsorship which the sponsoring charity will issue via their Sponsor management system. The applicant would need to meet entry clearance requirements and demonstrate that they have at least £945 in their bank account for 90 days to cover their living costs in the UK, unless a sponsoring charity choose to certify the maintenance on the volunteer’s Certified of sponsorship.

The Tier 5 Charity worker visas can be issued for a maximum period of up to 12 months, plus 14 days.

IBB Solicitors will be pleased to assist your organisation with obtaining the sponsor licence. We will make sure that your organisation fits the Home Office criteria, the job positions meet the requirements and that you submit correct paperwork in support of the application. We can also prepare you for compliance visits by the Home Office, help maintain your Sponsor licence and keep you abreast of your duties as a Tier 5 Sponsor.


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