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The British Training and Work Experience Scheme

Americans and virtually everyone coming to the United Kingdom for training or work experience, who is not a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country i.e. the European Union plus Finland, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway, require a Training and Work Experience Scheme (TWES) permit which should be obtained before entry into the United Kingdom. For Americans and certain other nationalities the TWES permit alone is sufficient for entry into the United Kingdom without obtaining a visa.

It is essential to understand the difference between a TWES permit and a work permit. A TWES permit since the new regulations effective 2 April 2001 can only be granted where the applicant will not be filling a position that would otherwise be filled by a citizen of any EEA member state or someone who has permanent residence, known as “settled status”, in the United Kingdom. A specific declaration to such effect is required in the TWES application itself. Where the applicant’s position is not additional to your normal staffing requirements then a work permit application must be filed. Work permits have no such restriction and normally can be issued for up to four years. Thereafter an individual can apply after four years continuous residence for indefinite leave to remain i.e. permanent residence.

TWES permits are two types, one which offers training for a professional or specialist qualification. The second, on which we will focus, is for work experience. Work experience TWES permits are normally limited to the twelve months and to applicants with at least a national vocational qualification level three or it’s equivalent which would be two A’ level’s or freshman year university level stateside. The applicant should have the relevant academic or vocational qualifications, relevant experience and be able to provide proof of same. The application requires a detailed timetable and explanation of the work experience programme, the type and level of experience which would be gained and how the applicant will be supervised.

Any United Kingdom employer can apply for a TWES permit. However TWES permits will not be issued in the sports and entertainment sectors. Employment and recruitment agencies cannot apply on behalf of their clients.

BABi serves a very useful role in work experience TWES applications. The application itself asks whether the work experience qualifies under an exchange agreement recognised by Work Permits (UK) or sponsored by a governmental or international organisation. Applications filed through BABi can be answered in the affirmative and BABi can attach an appropriate supporting letter. Although this does not guarantee the success of the application it clearly can facilitate matters.

Another positive feature of the TWES permit application programme is the speed of processing. In most cases Work Permits (UK), part of the Department of Education and Employment, will process the application within one week of receipt. Moreover BABi does not levy a charge for its services nor is there an application fee payable to Work Permits (UK). There is considerable flexibility regarding pay and work conditions of a TWES applicant provided that their pay equals that normally paid to British workers undertaking similar work experience.

For those interested in obtaining further information please contact:
Mark Lewand at BABi Tel: 020 7467 7437 Fax: 020 7493 2394.