Internship Visa Process for the UK


The visa is an official stamp or vignette that is affixed to the inside of your passport before your departure from the United States. Visas are granted by the UK Home Office and serve as evidence of your right to enter the UK.  Without the correct visa, you risk the possibility of deportation.

Obtaining your T5 GAE Visa

To apply for a visa, you must have a passport that is valid for at least 180 days beyond the end of your internship program. It is your responsibility, with API’s assistance, to obtain the visa and to verify the requirements with the British Consulate before submitting your application. API will assist you by supplying the necessary documentation, but API and BUNAC cannot guarantee the outcome of the visa application.

If you do not already have a valid passport, you should apply for or renew your passport immediately. The passport must be valid at least 180 days beyond the end of your program. You will be required to submit your passport to the British Consulate with the visa application. If you are concerned about processing times, API recommends paying extra to expedite the passport application. PLEASE let us know if you do choose to expedite! The visa will be inserted directly into your passport and returned to you.

Once you have accepted your internship placement API will give you access to create an account with BUNAC. Through this site you will first apply for your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Once you have received your CoS, you will log into your BUNAC account where you will find complete and thorough instructions on how to apply for your T5 GAE visa. To download the instructions, log into your BUNAC account. From the homepage, click on the “Tier 5 GAE visa application process” PDF link under the Vital Information bar on the left-hand side of the page to download the complete instructions.


  • You must obtain your CoS first, before you can apply for your T5 GAE visa.
  • You will be prompted to sign up for a biometrics appointment after you’ve completed your Tier 5 GAE Visa application online.  Before you can submit your Tier 5 GAE visa application you will need to have your biometrics appointment. 
  • You must provide the original plus a photocopy of every document you provide to the British Consulate.
  • You must also provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.


How do I apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)? 

A Certificate of Sponsorship is a unique reference number that holds information about you and the internship you will be doing while in London. Your CoS will be issued through BUNAC, the British Universities North America Club, who partners with API and is authorized by the UK Home Office to issue the CoS on behalf of your employer in order to obtain your visa.. 

You must first obtain your CoS before you can apply for your visa! Once your application has been approved, BUNAC will issue you a unique CoS reference number, which will enable you to apply for your Tier 5 GAE visa.

Obtaining your CoS

From start to finish, it can take up to 8 weeks to process your CoS, so it is important to begin this process as soon as you have accepted your placement with API. Once you have accepted your internship placement you will be given access to create an account with BUNAC. You will need to create your BUNAC account and input all required information and submit payment of  the BUNAC registration fee. Your API Program Manager will share a folder with your Insurance Letter, Official Transcripts, Resume, and Offer Letter; you need to upload these documents, along with a copy of your passport and proof of funds, to your BUNAC account. The Home Office requires all applicants to show proof of support funds in the amount of £1,270 (approximately $1,800). The support funds must be submitted to BUNAC in the form of a bank statement dated within the last 30 days. If you do not receive paper bank statements please refer to your online banking account to print one. All statements must show the following information:

  1. Letterhead / logo of the bank
  2. Name of account holder
  3. Type of account (checking or savings only)
  4. Date of the document
  5. Present available balance

If you are unable to provide a document showing sufficient funds and are currently supported financially by a parent, guardian, or spouse, you may submit their bank statement that matches the above criteria along with a Guarantor Letter signed by the supporting person. If the document you submit is missing any of the above information it will not be approved.

 Please note: You will be responsible for all fees related to acquisition of the certificate of sponsorship and visa. Fees are updated regularly by both the UKVI and Sponsorship agency websites, please review the website for an updated list of fees. Communication is very important during this time and we will be supporting you throughout the entire process.

Your BUNAC online account will inform you of the status of your CoS. Please make sure you keep in touch with API regularly as we correspond with BUNAC daily to update documentation.

How do I apply for a visa?

In order to obtain a Tier 5 GAE visa to intern in the UK, you must first apply for your CoS and follow API instructions closely due to time constraints. BUNAC will email you your CoS once it has been processed. Once your CoS has been obtained, you must apply for your Tier 5 GAE visa directly through the British Government website with all other relevant documentation mailed to a specified British Consulate in the U.S. 

Tier 5 GAE Visa Processing Times:

On average, straight forward applications are processed within 15-20 business days (3-4 weeks) from receipt of application, however the process could take longer depending on individual circumstances. Participants are advised to submit their online Tier 5 GAE visa application at least 6 weeks in advance of their planned departure.

Before attending your biometrics appointment you should decide if you want to register for priority processing of your visa for an additional fee If you pay for ‘Priority Service’ the visa is generally issued within 3-7 business days. PLEASE let us know if you choose to have your visa processed using Priority Service! Instructions on how to apply for Priority Service are included on the visa instructions downloaded from the BUNAC website.