Mat Wright

Tech Trainees is the British Council’s new Tier 5 Visa sponsorship service that enables UK companies in the STEM and applied arts fields to bring qualified overseas trainees to the UK for paid, project-related placements.

Through the service, we can provide Certificates of Sponsorship for trainees from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) identified by UK businesses, to support their successful Tier 5 Visa applications for UK-based work placements.

How does it work?

  1. A UK company that has identified a suitable undergraduate or postgraduate student from a country outside of the EEA applies for a Certificate of Sponsorship through the Tech Trainees service.
  2. The British Council works directly with the host company to issue the Certificate of Sponsorship as part of our A-rated Tier 5 Sponsorship Licence, which enables us to act as an overarching sponsor for individuals who meet set eligibility criteria (see below). 
  3. Once the Certificate of Sponsorship is issued, the trainee can then apply for their Tier 5 Visa.


If you are a UK company that has identified a suitable overseas trainee for a paid placement in your company, you can apply for the Tech Trainees service or find out more at techtrainees@britishcouncil.org

If you are an undergraduate looking for paid placements, see our opportunities for students.


Tech Trainees is linked to the International Association of the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) programme in the UK, which is delivered by the British Council. Find out more about IAESTE.

Costs and requirements

  • The Tech Trainees service charges UK companies £1,000 + VAT for issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship.
  • Trainees will cover their own Tier 5 Visa application costs, including the Immigration Health Surcharge, as well as flights, accommodation and living costs.
  • Undergraduate trainees are required to register with the IAESTE programme in their own country, which may also incur a cost.
  • It is recommended that host companies apply at least three months before the placement is expected to start, as the entire process, including approval of the Tier 5 Visa application, can take up to 12 weeks. For this reason, trainees are encouraged to lodge their Tier 5 application as soon as the Certificate of Sponsorship is issued.

Eligibility for trainees (cumulative conditions)

  • The trainee must be a non-EEA citizen.
  • The trainee must either hold, or be studying towards, a degree equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s or higher level degree, which is both of a STEM or applied arts subject area AND directly related to the work placement (copies of enrolment confirmation/degree certificates are required, along with certified translations by a public notary or a certified translator where necessary).
  • The trainee must not claim public funds while they are in the UK.

Eligibility for placements (cumulative conditions)

  • The role must be supernumerary to the company’s normal staffing requirements.
  • The role should support a set project; it should not be an internship of a substantive role.
  • The role must be supervised, and must require a minimum skill level of NVQ Level 3.
  • The placement must last for a minimum of six weeks and a maximum of 12 months
  • The placement should conform to all relevant UK and European legislation, such as the National Minimum Wage Act and the European Commission working hours directives.
  • The placement must not harm the resident labour market.