Short-Term UK Work Visas

There are over 85 UK visa types. To help you understand various UK immigration routes, I’ve divided these visa types into six main categories.

There are visas for:

  1. Visiting the UK
  2. Studying in the UK
  3. Working in the UK:
    1. Long-term UK work visas
    2. Short-term UK work visas
    3. Investor, business and talent routes
    4. Other work-related routes
  1. Joining family members in the UK:
    1. Settlement routes
    2. Temporary work-related routes
  2. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens
  3. Protecting citizens


This article is a part of the ‘UK Immigration and All UK Visa Types in 2021’ article series. Below, I’ll explain the third category – visa types suitable for those who would like to work in the UK.

The topic is very deep. Therefore, today we’ll concentrate on the short-term work-related routes only. In the previous article, we’ve covered long-term UK work visa routes.

Please note that the UK immigration routes, which I explain below, are suitable for those who do not have a right of abode in the UK. Even if your country is not on a visa national list if you intend to work, you still need to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK.


UK Work Visas

There are over 29 types of work-related UK visas. We can divide them into 4 categories:

  1. Long-term work-related routes
  2. Short-term work-related routes
  3. Investor, business and talent routes
  4. Other work-related routes


Short-Term UK Work Visas

You’ll notice that short-term work-related routes are pretty similar to long-term ones. However, the most distinguishing difference is in the length of visas, usually tied to the employment contracts. Generally, short-term work-related routes are for much shorter periods of time. They have a more temporary nature and rarely lead to settlement.

There are 8 short-term UK work visas for T5 temporary workers:

  1. Charity Worker
  2. Creative or Sporting Worker
  3. Government Authorised Exchange Worker route
  4. International Agreement Worker
  5. Religious Worker
  6. Seasonal Worker
  7. Youth Mobility Scheme
  8. Graduate


T5 Charity Worker

Short-Term UK Work Visas
Short-Term UK Work Visas

The Charity Worker route is for a person who wants to come to the UK to do voluntary work for no more than 12 months.

The applicants will need to find a sponsor and get a certificate of sponsorship from them. The sponsor will need to be A-rated on the Home Office’s register of licensed sponsors.

All successful applicants will get a visa for up to 12 months or less. It will be in line with their contract of employment.

This route does not lead to settlement.


T5 Creative or Sporting Worker

This route is almost identical to the T2 Sportsperson route. In other words, the Creative or Sporting Worker route is for a person who wants to work within the creative or sporting sector.

However, the maximum period they can remain here on their initial T5 (Temporary Worker) Creative or Sporting Worker visa is 12 months.

Unlike most other T5 visa routes, this category allows the applicants to extend their stay up to a maximum of 24 months. When applying for an extension, they’ll need to prove that they are still working for the same sponsor. Also, that their sponsor is willing to support their application.

A Creative Worker is someone who can make a unique contribution to the UK’s cultural life. For example, they can apply as an artist, dancer, musician, entertainer, or model contributing to the UK’s fashion industry.

A Sporting Worker is someone who can make a significant contribution to their sport at the highest level in the UK.

This route does not allow the applicants to settle. However, it does allow them to switch to the categories that do lead to settlement. For example, after remaining in the UK for 2 years, they can switch to the Global Talent route.


T5 (Temporary Worker) Government Authorised Exchange Worker Route

This route is for those who want to come to the UK on the UK Government’s approved scheme. Currently, there are over 64 various programmes, which allow people from all over the world to participate.

The requirements are pretty standard. The applicant will need to find an A-rated sponsor. The sponsor will need to be on the Home Office’s list. The sponsor will need to provide them with the Certificate of Sponsorship. The applicants will need to have at least  £1,270 in their bank account. This amount will need to be in their bank account for 28-days.

The maximum period of grant in this category is between 12 to 24-months (depending on the scheme).


T5 (Temporary Worker) International Agreement Worker

The route is for those who want to come to the UK to provide a service covered under international law. For example, the route may be relevant for private servants in diplomatic households, employees of overseas governments and international organisations.

Alternatively, workers under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) or another agreement under which the UK has commitments can apply.

GATS is a treaty of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that entered into force in 1995. Its core objective was to create a credible and reliable system of international trade rules. It ensures fair and equitable treatment of all participants. The aim behind its creation is to stimulate economic activity through guaranteed policy bindings. Also, to promote trade and development through progressive liberalisation.

‘Progressive liberalisation’ is a rather vague term, but according to some sources, which I found when researching for this article, in very simple terms, it means increased competition. The aim is to increase it by making the domestic market “more competitive” and “opening the market” to international firms.


T5 (Temporary Worker) Religious Worker

The Religious Worker route is for those who want to support the activities of religious institutions in the UK. And they intend to do so by conducting religious work such as working in a religious order or undertaking non-pastoral work for a religious organisation.

The route is similar to the T2 Minister of Religion one. However, a T5 visa is for a short period of time. It also appears to be for those who intend to take supportive rather than leading roles. According to the rules, a Minister of Religion will need to apply under the T2 Minister of Religion route if their engagement in the UK involves leading a congregation in performing rites, rituals and preaching the essentials of the creed as its core duties.

The maximum time that T5 Ministers of Religion can spend in the UK is 2 years. As with most T5 routes, you cannot settle in the UK if you apply under this route.


5 (Temporary Worker) Seasonal Worker

This little known route is for workers in edible horticulture doing seasonal work in the UK with a sponsor. Horticulture (pronounces as /ˈhɔːtɪˌkʌltʃə/ ) is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients. Horticulturists are agriculturists who grow flowers, fruits and nuts, vegetables and herbs, and ornamental trees and lawns.

Dependants of seasonal workers cannot come with them to the UK.

Seasonal Workers may only stay in the UK for 6 months in any 12-month period.

There are the same key elements for this type of visa application as for the majority of other T5 routes. The applicant will need to find a sponsor. The sponsors will need to comply with the following three requirements:

  1. they’ll have to have an endorsement from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in relation to the Seasonal Worker route; and
  2. they’ll need to have a licence from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority; and
  3. they’ll need to be A-rated and on the Home Office’s list

The sponsors will have to issue a certificate of sponsorship, and the applicant will have to apply within 3 months (maximum) after the issue of this certificate. Also, they’ll need to have at least £1,270 for 28 days before applying.


T5 (Temporary Worker) Youth Mobility Scheme

This is a very popular UK immigration route. T5 (Temporary Worker) Youth Mobility Scheme provides a cultural exchange programme. It allows young people aged 18 and 30 to experience life in the UK for up to 2 years. The applicants will need to be from participating countries and territories.

You can apply without at any time if you are from:




New Zealand

San Marino

Also, if you are a British overseas citizen or a citizen of British overseas territories or a British national (overseas) – you can apply straightaway.


However, you’ll have to go through a selection process from in the Youth Mobility Scheme ballot if you are from:

Hong Kong


South Korea


Ballots typically open in January and July each year. Usually, the ballots open for 48 hours only. During this period of time, you’ll need to send an email. In this email, you’ll need to confirm your intention to apply under the T5 (Temporary Worker) Youth Mobility Scheme. Then you should get an automated reply confirming receipt.

It’s better to apply in January as most applicants are usually chosen during this period of time. Then they allocate the remaining places in the July ballot.

However, irrespective of where you are from, you cannot apply if you have:

  • children under the age of 18 who live with you
  • children you’re financially responsible for
  • already been in the UK under the scheme

Also, you’ll need to have at least £2,530 in your bank account to show you can support yourself in the UK.

You cannot settle under this route and will need to leave the UK after 2 years.


The Graduate UK Immigration Route

This route was born in July 2021. However, the word ‘reborn’ would be a more accurate term to describe the introduction of the route, which already successfully operated in the UK before.

It is for graduate students in the UK who want to work or look for work. They’ll need to prove that they have successfully graduated from an eligible course of study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above. The study must have been with a higher education provider with a track record of compliance.

The beauty of this route is in the fact that graduate students don’t need to find sponsors to remain in the UK after their studies.

Also, those who already have permission to remain in the UK as dependants of a student will be able to extend their stay. They’ll need to apply as dependants under the Graduate route. However, if dependents were not in the UK when the student was studying – this route will not be available to dependants.

As with all other T5 temporary routes, the Graduate route is not a route to settlement.


Further Help

And finally, if you would like to understand the UK visa rules, you may find it useful to attend one of these online courses:

  1. ‘Three Secrets of a Successful UK Visitor Visa Application’ 
  2. ’10 Ways to Avoid the Refusal of Your British Citizenship Application.’ 
  3. ‘How to Meet the Financial Requirement of Your British Spouse Visa Application when Applying from Outside the UK’ 
  4. ‘How to Avoid the Refusal of Your Adult Dependent Relative UK Visa Application.’ 

For more online courses, check THIS PAGE.

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Short-Term UK Work Visas