International students – are you graduating soon and hoping to stay on to work or study in the UK? Here are some of your options!

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By Nia Watkin-Jones

Are you panicking about your next career move? Whatever situation you may be in – don’t panic, take a breath, we are here to help!

Many international students aspire to gain work experience or get a job in the UK following graduation. Whilst this is legally possible, it’s not always easy to organise, especially when you only have a few months left on your Tier 4 visa.

There are a number of ways you may stay on to work in the UK and the full list can be seen here:

However, two of the most common work visas our students apply for following graduation are the Tier 2 (General) Visa and the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) Visa.

Many of our international undergraduate students also decide to stay on to study at The University of Manchester at Postgraduate level. Please see the following pages if this is of interest to you:

Tier 2 (General) Visa

Also known as the Employer Sponsored visa, this is for candidates from outside the EEA & Switzerland who have been offered a skilled job within the UK. You can switch from your Tier 4 study visa to a Tier 2 General visa whilst in the UK. There are a number of criteria you will need to meet in order to apply for this visa and the full guidelines can be found on the Home Office website:

First and foremost, you will need to secure a graduate-level role. The employer who is offering you the role must be on the ‘Sponsor Register’. Your role will also need to be of a particular skill level and wage. For full details on this, please see the Careers Service’s webpages

At this time of the year, many of the well-known graduate scheme within the large organisations are now full as they normally recruit in October and November for a start date of the following year. These organisations in industries such as Banking & Finance, Management Consultancy, Accountancy, IT and Engineering are generally positive about sponsoring international students on Tier 2 visas. If you are reading this blog and you have 1-2 years left of your degree, make a note of these early deadlines! Further information can be found here:

If you are searching for a graduate-level role now, you may have to be more creative and flexible in your approach. Remember – Tier 2 visas require a minimum salary of £20,800 for the role or the ‘new entrant’ salary given in the Codes of Practice for NVQ level 6, whichever salary is higher. Check the Codes of Practice guidelines for the minimum salary requirement for your chosen career.

There are also some websites where you can search for Tier 2 roles, these include: Grad Vault; Student Circus; CV Library; Glassdoor (search tier 2); LinkedIn and don’t forget the free vacancies database exclusively for University of Manchester students  ‘Careerslink’, which advertises 1000s of vacancies!

For information on how to search for graduate roles or internships, see our webpages:

Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) Visa

This is a good option for students who may only want to work in the UK for 1 year. The advantages of gaining work experience in the UK using this Visa are that the salary does not have to be as high as the Tier 2 (General Visa), where the average starting salary is around £30,000. Also, the employer does not need to be on the sponsor register, as you will be sponsored by a government-authorized Tier 5 sponsor. There are other criteria for this visa, as set out here:

There are 70 schemes/sponsors in total, including: (Access Tier 5 scheme), GTI (Tier 5 Intern Program) and BUNAC (Intern in Britain). For Access Tier 5 for example, it’s essential for students to find their own graduate internship/role first before applying to Access Tier 5. Please also check the following schemes for opportunities: Step (Provides placements and internships for students and recent graduates across the UK), Graduate Talent Pool (Internships offered are based primarily in England)

Finally, international students may find it easier to find a graduate internship or work at this time of the year through a more speculative approach. See our jobsearch guide

Finally …

We are always here to help and if you do need to make an appointment to meet with the international Careers Consultant please give us a ring to book.

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