International students, the extra mile to work in the UK

Written by Maria Neves, BA Politics and International Relations student

The implications faced by foreigners to work in the UK seem endless and ever-changing which makes the quest for work more challenging. There is definitely this fact that international students find it difficult to reach companies or employers for business and it frequently doesn’t work in their favour. Also, Brexit brought about a panoply of novel measures to an even bigger range of people. As an EU student, I strive to keep up to date and I imagine you are doing the same!

Let me tell you about some of the things I have learnt on this excellent webinar “International students: staying in the UK to work”. You can find both the recordings and the screencasts on Blackboard organisation Careers 24/7.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Before you start looking for a job, make sure you have the right to work in the UK. It’s really important that you choose a visa that best suits your purpose and carefully check the updated requirements before applying – breaching the conditions of your visa can lead to serious consequences. Among some of the most frequent visas for international students who wish to work in the UK are:

  1. Student Visa / Tier 4

Allows you to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time, vacation periods after your course ends, or during a placement year. Yet, working limits and ‘term-time vary according to what you are studying.

Nonetheless, under this visa, you cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity, but you have other options for such pursuits!

  1. Skilled Work Visa

Can last up to 5 years and to qualify for it you must undertake an eligible job that pays the minimum salary for that type of work, work for a UK employer that has been approved by the Home Office and provide a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by an employer with a Skilled worker licence.

  1. Start-up Visa

For entrepreneurs with innovative viable business ideas endorsed by an authorised body, it allows you to stay in the UK for 2 years, set up your business and have another side job at the same time. For further details, you can contact the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship webpage!

  1. Graduate Route Visa

Will be introduced on the 1 of July 2021.

Does not require any sponsorship from an employer or university to apply. Grants PhD graduates 3 years in the UK while graduates will be granted 2.

Once successful, you will not be able to apply for this route again even if you undertake a different course; it is one-time non-excludable immigration permission.

You can work in any sector with the exception of a professional sportsperson or coach, no need to demonstrate English language skills to apply and there is no maintenance requirement. There are, however, other financial requirements.

  1. Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa

Convenient for nationals of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Taiwan, or another type of British nationality.

You can work in the UK for up to 2 years and you can only have it once.

  1. Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange Visa (T5)

This one is specifically for people who want to work in a government-authorised exchange scheme.


Visa Tips

Always check the requirements and conditions like:

  • Evidence of maintenance (of your money)
  • Dependents conditions if you wish
  • Place or places you need/can be when applying
  • Validity of the Visa – graduate roles that are advertised in the market might be up to 36 months which is longer than the expected Graduate Immigration route covers
  • Terms of sponsorship/scholarship
  • COVID Conditions

Make well-informed decisions:

  • UKCISA has a brilliant section about working in the UK after completing your studies
  • Immigration Rules, the Appendix Skilled worker route + Appendix Skilled Occupations
  • Search on the internet for any case guidance for the visa you plan to apply for
  • UK website
  • The University’s International Student Advisory Team
  • Careers 24/7 International Students Support

Plan in Advance

You do not need to have a particular job to apply for or to get a visa, but it is good to have an idea of what your strategy is. Ask yourself how long you plan to stay in the UK; which skills or skill you’d like to develop; are you looking for stability or flexibility; which type of employer you’d like to work for; looking for a job or a career?

Even if you are uncertain, use your international status to your advantage!

Many companies and start-ups seek a diverse team of employees; cultural differences can lead the company to reach bigger audiences – show them what you’ve got! Try to apply as early as possible – both for legal documents as job roles.

Be flexible and resilient as you can, I believe every job teaches us something that could be useful in the next one.

Develop your network; this is key because not only it might give you the chance to meet new people interested in the same sector as you, as it might also open doors you’ve imagined entering.

Be aware of the skill set valued in the cultural context you are in. If you know which abilities are desired, you can work on them and increase your chances of getting the job. Finally, have a backup plan!


+ CV Bolsters

  • Volunteering
  • Clubs and societies
  • Work Shadowing
  • Work Experience
  • Part time work
  • THRIVE Mentoring Scheme – my experience
  • Reading Internship Scheme
  • Become a member of your relevant professional bodies

Student Circus

There are several ways to make it easier for you to get into the job market. However, at Reading Uni you have the incredible opportunity to join Student Circus which is a job search platform designed by international students for international students!

They filter all the job opportunities out there and present you with the employers and companies who will sponsor you to bring you the best opportunities in the work world. Furthermore, through the platform, you have access to various blog posts that provide you insights into the market. They also have an immigration assistance sector to ask questions and a tracking calendar to nudge students as they come closer to their visa expiry.

And the best part is that all students at the University of Reading have completely free and unlimited access to the Student Circus.

Permanent link to this article: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/careers/international-students-the-extra-mile-to-work-in-the-uk/

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