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 plan to switch from a tier 4 visa to a tier 5 GAE visa, please notify the College at least twelve weeks before your current visa expires. You will not be 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. If you are already enrolled on the Scheme for Registration when your visa expires you will not be able to continue until you have a current visa. This is because of the following reasons:

  • You are not able to work in the UK in any capacity without a valid visa
  • It is illegal to test sight and fit or carry out aftercare on contact lens patients without being enrolled on 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 Tier 5 application fee has increased to £525 from 1 October 2016.

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