Commonwealth Professional Fellowships – immigration obligations

Commonwealth Professional Fellows require a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa to come to the UK for their award, and must meet all relevant immigration requirements. All UK immigration regulations are set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and are subject to change at any time. The CSC has no control over these regulations.

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), which provides the CSC Secretariat, acts as the Tier 5 sponsor on behalf of the CSC.

In accordance with immigration regulations, sponsorship duties relating to record keeping, monitoring, and reporting of Fellows must be completed. While the ACU (on behalf of the CSC Secretariat) is responsible for assigning Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) and submitting reports to UK Visas and Immigration, host organisations are required to assist in these activities as per the host organisations’ obligations below. Failure on the part of the host organisation to provide the ACU with the required documentation and to report relevant details may result in the loss of the ACU’s Tier 5 licence and ability to sponsor Fellows’ visas. Host organisations will be sent a document setting out their and the ACU’s responsibilities in this regard, which must be signed and returned.

Fellows’ obligations

Commonwealth Professional Fellows must provide the following documents before the ACU (acting on behalf of the CSC Secretariat) will assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS):

  • Commonwealth Professional Fellowship application form
  • Visa information form
  • Award acceptance form (signed)
  • Copy of passport personal details page

The CSC Secretariat will send the details of the assigned CoS to the Fellow by email, to enable them to make their visa application, and will keep a copy on file.

After a CoS has been assigned, Fellows must provide copies of the following documents to the CSC Secretariat:

  • UK Tier 5 (GAE) visa, before they travel to the UK
  • Passport entry stamp and/or a used boarding pass and checked baggage receipt, at the end of their fellowship and every time they travel outside the UK during their fellowship

Host organisations’ obligations

Host organisations must provide the following documents before the ACU (acting on behalf of the CSC Secretariat) will assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the Fellows:

  • Signed host agreement form
  • A completed UK work locations form

Once a Fellow has arrived to the UK, host organisations are required to verify original immigration documentation. This must be completed immediately following the Fellow’s arrival to the UK and before the Fellow commences their fellowship. The following documents must be provided to the CSC Secretariat within 24 hours of the Fellow’s start date in the UK.

  • Copy of passport biometric page
  • Copy of UK Tier 5 (GAE) visa and UK date of entry stamp
  • UK lodging address and telephone number(s)
  • If the Fellow arrives late (including if they miss a flight or if there are visa delays), change of circumstances form

Host organisations are also required to monitor a fellow’s attendance whilst they are in the UK and inform the ACU immediately of any changes in a Fellow’s circumstances – for example, early homeward departure, change or addition of work sites in the UK, absences from work (including authorised absences), and/or changes to contact details. When required, the ACU will be responsible for submitting reports of these changes to UK Visas and Immigration as detailed below.

Reporting to UK Visas and Immigration

Once a Fellow has been issued with a CoS and while they are in the UK, the ACU is required to report to UKVI within ten working days if:

  • The Fellow does not arrive to start the programme on their expected start date. This includes if the Fellow misses a flight and will be arriving at a later date agreed by the host organisation.
  • The Fellow is absent from their work location. The ACU requires details of all absences; however, only unauthorised absences of ten working days or more will be reported to UKVI.
  • The fellowship finishes before the end date stated on the CoS (e.g. if the Fellow withdraws, has their fellowship withdrawn, or finishes their programme early).
  • The Fellow defers their fellowship.
  • The Fellow no longer requires sponsorship under Tier 5 (e.g. if they switch to a different visa type).
  • There are any significant changes to the Fellow’s circumstances (e.g. a change of work location, passport details, etc).
  • There is any information which suggests that the Fellow is in breach of the conditions of their visa (including engaging in criminal activity).

Travel outside the UK during the fellowship

Commonwealth Professional Fellowships are tenable in the UK only, and Fellows must seek permission from their Programme Officer and host organisation if they wish to travel outside the UK for any reason.

Further information

This information is subject to changes in the Tier 5 policy guidance and the immigration rules which is available on the UKVI website. UKVI may make changes to the terms and conditions of Tier 5 visas at any point.

Further information can be obtained from Ratha Senthinathan, Senior Welfare and Immigration Officer, at