Why International Students Need To Apply For Jobs While Still In The UK

Graduate jobs

May 07, 2019

International students in the UK are often intimidated by the process of job applications. This is largely due to the fact that they need a Tier 2 Visa, which acts as a work permit. But there are layers of rules and regulations governing the grant of such a permit.


Here’s how it functions:


·      To secure a Tier 2 Visa, which is the most common visa for students to switch to after graduation, you need to be sponsored by a company

·      This means that your employer company needs to be a licensed sponsor for you to apply to live in the UK.


Other requirements:

1.    You need a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed employer

2.    A minimum salary of £20,800 (or industry equivalent)

3.    NQF skill level of 6 or higher

4.    You need to show evidence of having £945 in a bank for 90 days (ending no more than 31 days before your application), although your employer may be able to cover the maintenance.

5.    Finally, a UK degree will satisfy the English language requirements.


·      Not all companies which are licensed sponsors will sponsor for graduate roles, so applicants need to ensure this BEFORE they apply.



Know The Timelines


The key in this entire process is to apply for jobs in a timely fashion:

Most of the grad roles that begin next year open applications in August and September.

Investment banks and large professional services, for example, accept applications on a rolling basis meaning employers assess candidates as and when they apply, rather than waiting for the deadline date. Consulting firms, FMCG sector and energy and utilities open applications in September and October and deadline dates are often around November/December/January. Assessments such as online testing and case study interviews, assessment centres and usually take place, at the most, till March.

Understand the UK Job Market

Often international students are unaware of this long cycle of application, interviews and recruitment. So, it is imperative to get started on applications right away. Without the Tier 2 Visa or a right to work or remain, a student holding a Tier 4 visa will have to leave the country when it expires. (It is important to note here that at the time of writing this applies to only non-EEA nationals, but with the impending Brexit policies, this could be true for EU nationals as well.)


There are also further advantages when you apply while you still have your student visa:

• No RLMT is required

This is an advantage to both employers and applicants. Resident Labour Market test requires the employer to advertise the vacancy within the UK twice and widely, and make sure that there are no suitable workers already living permanently in the UK. Unless this is proven, foreign workers cannot be hired. So as an international student looking to convert from Tier 4 to Tier 2, you are spared the hassle of being subject to this added filter.


• Other benefits to employers:

When hiring a foreign worker, employers in the UK need to pay an additional charge for each foreign worker they employ. This is called the ‘immigration skills charge’. However, they don’t have to pay the immigration skills charge if the worker being sponsored has a Tier 4 (Student) visa and is switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa. This makes your application more attractive to the employer while you still have a valid Tier 4 Visa.

Other advantages to the employer are the unrestricted CoS letters, cooling off period etc.


The sooner the better

Finally, the sooner you start applying, the more time you’ll have in case you aren’t successful in applying to the grad roles, or are not interested in those sectors. This is where your networking prowess comes in handy. So, you can approach medium to small enterprises and educate them about the ease of the sponsorship process. They are keen to hire faster and are more approachable. Speculative applications will help you to keep your options open!




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