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Tier 5 - pre-registration employment

MPharm and BSc Optometry students can now apply for a Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa in order to complete their pre-reg year

On 6 April 2012, UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration, the new name for the UK Border Agency) changed the Tier 5 visa rules to allow a dedicated scheme under which pre-registration employment is allowed, prior to you leaving the UK. You will not require an employer to sponsor you. Instead, under the special Tier 5 scheme, you will have to be sponsored by an 'overarching body' (see the UKBA register of sponsors). The College of Optometrists and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society are both established as 'overarching sponsors' for pre-reg students in their respective sectors.

UKVI have also made it possible to switch in the UK from a Tier 4 (General) or old-style Student visa into Tier 5, if:

  • You have lawfully obtained a full UK bachelors or masters degree (not a diploma)
  • You intend to pursue a career overseas at the end of the pre-reg year

After your pre-registration, it will not be possible to switch from a Tier 5 visa into Tier 2 without first leaving the UK and applying from abroad. By applying for Tier 5 you are in effect declaring to UKVI  that you do not intend to pursue a career in the UK. This means that you will not be able to commit to working for your employer after the pre-reg year. For those who wish to complete their UK registration and then return home to practise, this is not a problem.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society will sponsor MPharm graduates under their Pharmacy Professional Sponsorship Scheme (PPSS).  This will only be available to MPharm students enrolled in the UK on Pharmacy programmes who will graduate in 2012, 2013, 2014 or 2015.  If you wish to work in the UK for a while after the pre-reg (not possible with Tier 5, see below) it might be better to apply under Tier 2 (General), where the minimum annual salary for pre-reg students is £20,300 (increasing to £20,500 per year for certificates of sponsorship issued on or after 06 April 2014).  UK Visas and Immigration expect that migrants will have obtained or applied for their Tier 5 visa prior to starting their pre-reg placement.

What do I have to do if I want to apply for this visa?

The PPSS was introduced specifically to support those overseas (non-EEA) pharmacy students who were studying pharmacy at GB universities at the time of the closure of the Tier 1 Post-Study Work (PSW) visa in April 2012, and who:
•    Graduate in 2012, 2013, 2014 or 2015 with an MPharm
•    Have a pre-registration position (supernumerary) with a GPhC accredited premises
•    Earn below the Tier 2 salary criteria; or whose placement is split i.e. six months in industry and six months in hospital
•    Are RPS members.

If you meet the above criteria and are eligible to apply, you need to do the following:

1. Read the PPSS handbook on the RPS website for more information on how the scheme works. 

2. Apply for your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) no more than 3 months before your pre-reg placement is due to start.  You will need to complete the PPSS application form which is on the RPS website.  There are sections that must be completed by yourself, your employer and the School of Pharmacy (Aston).  You will need to book an appointment with Laura Bryan in The Hub as she will need to complete the School of Pharmacy section of the application form, check it is correctly and fully completed, see original copies of your documents and verify photocopies of them.  Without the verified copies of these documents the RPS will not issue a CoS to you.  Once the application form is complete and all relevant documents are copied and verified, Laura will send this to the RPS on your behalf. 

3. The RPS will issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) confirming that they will sponsor you for the duration of your pre-reg placement.  You will need the CoS for your Tier 5 GAE visa application.

4. Apply for the Tier 5 GAE visa.  You should book another appointment with Laura Bryan in The Hub before you apply so that she can check your visa application form and documents. 

For more information please read the FAQs on the RPS website.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa

Alternatively you may be able to apply for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa.  This visa is only available to 18-30 year olds of certain nationalities but if you are eligible to apply it will give you permission to work full-time in the UK for 2 years.  See the Tier 5 Temporary Work webpage for further details.

The RPS will only sponsor MSc OSPAP graduates to do their pre-registration year if  they have graduated in 2012 or 2013 (and no later).  The current RPS guidelines for the PPSS state that OSPAP students graduating in 2012 or 2013 will be eligible as long as they have obtained the OSPAP MSc. Those with the OSPAP PG Diploma are not eligible to apply.  If you enrolled on the OSPAP course from September 2013 onwards then you will need to be able to apply for the Tier 2 General visa if you need a work visa to do your pre-registration in the UK.  If you graduated from the MSc OSPAP course in 2012 or 2013 please contact Laura Bryan in The Hub to find out if you may be eligible for sponsorship from the RPS to do your pre-reg placement.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa

Alternatively you may be able to apply for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa.  This visa is only available to 18-30 year olds of certain nationalities but if you are eligible to apply it will give you permission to work full-time in the UK for 2 years.  See the Tier 5 Temporary Work webpage for further details.

International BSc Optometry students at Aston who will require a visa for their pre-reg placement have a number of options:

The MOptom & Tier 4 visa extension

You may be offered the opportunity of continuing your studies by doing the MOptom alongside your pre-reg placement.  If you decide to do the MOptom you will be able to extend your Tier 4 Student visa until the course end date of the MOptom plus an extra 4 months.  This will cover you to do your pre-reg.  As the pre-reg will become a work placement as part of the course you are allowed to do this full-time on a Tier 4 Student visa.  It will also be easier to apply for a Tier 2 General visa if you want to continue working in the UK after your pre-reg placement has finished.  Please note that the Tier 4 visa cannot be extended after the MOptom has finished even if you have not yet completed your pre-reg but you may be able to get sponsorship from the College of Optometrists for this (see below).

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Scheme visa

The College of Optometrists will sponsor BSc Optometry graduates under their scheme for pre-reg students.  Those students who decide not to take the MOptom may be able to get a visa under Tier 5 instead. You won't be able to work in the UK after your pre-reg if you use Tier 5 (see below), so all students are advised to take the MOptom and extend Tier 4 where possible. The College also state on their website that they will not allow students to start their pre-reg until the Tier 5 visa has been granted and received, unless they are taking it as a placement as part of the MOptom programme.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa

This visa is only available to 18-30 year olds of certain nationalities but if you are eligible to apply it will give you permission to work full-time in the UK for 2 years.  See the Tier 5 Temporary Work webpage for further details:

  • Speak with an International Student Adviser at The Hub to discuss your visa options for your pre-registration placement and to check your elibility to apply for the Tier 5 GAE visa. You are strongly advised to bring in your documents for checking at each stage of the process.
  • Make sure you apply for your National Insurance Number, if you don't already have one. Your sponsoring body may ask for this information, even if you haven't started working yet.
  • If you decide to apply for the Tier 5 GAE visa, you must apply to your sponsoring body for your Certificate of Sponsorship. Pharmacy students must bring in their RPS PPSS application form to an Adviser, because the University is required to check these, certify copies of your documents, apply on your behalf and keep records for each applicant.
  • Apply to UKVI for your Tier 5 visa, giving your Certificate of Sponsorship number on the application form. Information about how to apply can be found on the UKBA website.
The Hub can offer help and advice at each of these stages.

Through The Hub, Aston can:

  • Discuss your visa options for the pre-registration placement with you, and where there is a choice of visas available we can help you decide which is the best visa option for you.
  • Check if you're eligible to apply for Tier 5, and if you can apply inside the UK.
  • Check your application for your certificate of sponsorship (CoS) which must be sent to your sponsor and your application for the Tier 5 visa for UKVI, including all relevant documents.
  • Point you towards the UKVI guidance for employers and sponsors, if you are asked for this information.
Due to UKVI rules and the nature of our immigration advice service:
  • We cannot sponsor you under Tier 5. This must be done by the overarching body who has applied for the licence.
  • We cannot give detailed advice to employers who are unsure how Tier 5 will work or if you're eligible to work in the UK. It is the employer's responsibility to check this, and to get appropriate legal advice where necessary. Aston's advisers are qualified only to advise you as a student/recent graduate.

Page last checked and updated 02 April 2014   LB

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