Tier 5 sponsorship

Information for Non EEA national students who have successfully completed a course of undergraduate study in optometry from one of the UK universities approved by the GOC

The College has been approved as a licensed sponsor under tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) scheme. This means the College can issue Certificates of Sponsorship to non EEA students in order for them to complete the Scheme for Registration in the UK.

Students wishing to apply for the Certificate of Sponsorship from the College will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Graduation from a GOC approved university with a 2:2 or above in optometry; and
  • have secured a pre-registration placement.

Follow the links below for more information on the tier 5 (GAE) visa, guidance on the process of issuing Certificates of Sponsorship and FAQs. 

It's important to note: if you have time left on your tier 4 general visa and are waiting on your tier 5, or any other visa application, you are able to live and work in the UK until your visa expires. However, you are not able to enrol or start your pre-registration period until your visa application has been approved and you have notified the College and provided evidence of such. This is because of the following reasons:

• Your tier 4 visa covers you for your degree course only, your pre-registration period is considered a separate training course and cannot be included under the conditions of your tier 4 visa. You are also unable to start a new training scheme under this visa and would be breaking the conditions of your stay if you did.   
• It is illegal to test sight and fit or carry out aftercare on contact lens patients without being enrolled on to the pre-registration scheme and taking up the position of a pre-registration optometrist.

If you have a temporary contract as a support member of staff in a practice, whilst you wait for your tier 5 GAE visa, then you will be able to carry out those functions appropriate to a support member of staff e.g. dispensing to other than exempt groups, pre-examination screening etc. but as this will not have been carried out whilst you were in pre-registration training, it cannot count towards any of your pre-registration targets i.e. patient episodes or dispensing numbers. 

For further information contact:


Emily Stevens
Executive Assistant
Education Department                          
0207 766 4354
Email: emily.stevens@college-optometrists.org

Any Questions

Check the Frequently Asked Questions Section

otherwise please Contact Us



Please note!

The UK government is introducing an immigration health surcharge on 6 April 2015.

The health surcharge will be paid by tier 5 GAE applicants and is £200. If the surcharge is not paid the application will be refused or treated as invalid and rejected. If an application is unsuccessful the surcharge will be refunded.


For more information read here

  UKVI Surcharge factsheet