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International students working in the UK

Work visas for international graduates wanting to work in the UK have undergone considerable changes over the last year. For a full listing of all visas available in the UK please see the UKBA website. This page aims to summarise some key information.

Note: If you are from the EEA or are Swiss, no work visa is required. Some EEA students may need to register with the Home Office, check the UKCISA website for more information.

Tier 1 - Post-study work visa (PSW) - This visa was closed to new applicants in April 2012

Tier 5: Work Experience for international graduates

This scheme is part of the temporary worker visa legislation.

This scheme allows international graduates the chance to stay in the UK for a maximum period of 24 months for training and 12 months for work experience. It is relevant to students who need to do a period of professional training in the UK to qualify, e.g., architects, lawyers, pharmacists. Individual employers cannot sponsor an individual and a sponsor must have no intention of employing an applicant in the UK after period of training completed.

This scheme also allows for participation in government-authorised internship programmes such as BUNAC and Tier5intern. Such schemes allow for up to a 6 month paid internship in the UK. A student generally finds a placement, and will need to show they meet certain financial maintenance and English language requirements and apply for the visa from home country.

Tier 2 - Employer sponsored work visa

Summary of this visa

The information on the new Tier 2 scheme is that applicants must have a job offer from an employer before their student visa expires (currently the length of the course, plus 4 months), and must be paid a minimum salary that is likely to be in the region of £20,800 (or the salary specified in the Standard Occupational Code published by the UKBA). The individual also has to meet “points” requirements. The employer will not have to apply the Resident Labour Market Test, unlike the main scheme under Tier 2.  So there will still be scope for International Students to find graduate level opportunities.

If an employer asks you for information on visas and employing an international graduate, refer to their company's HR department for advice in the first instance.

Some smaller organisations may not be clear about the visa regulations. In this instance you can help the employer to understand if you are familiar with the regulations and what is required for the visa you want to switch into. You can refer the employer to the following guides and resources to help:

International Graduate Recruitment Forum on LinkedIn - This group has been set up by Nicky Dean, an in-house Immigration and Compliance Specialist. It is aimed specifically at employers recruiting international graduates from UK universities, so you could direct employers to that group if they are keen to employ you but are uncertain about how to do so.

Find a graduate job from a sponsoring employer on the UKBA sponsor register. Given the current information inferring Tier 2 General as the main route students interested in working in the UK after their studies would be advised to look at the employers who are already registered and also check to determine if an employer of interest is registered to take migrant workers under Tier 2 General. Some employers recruit all year round, others close around October/November; Prospects have a lot of the closing dates and information for bigger employers.

It would also be useful for students to be aware of the UKBA Employer Helpline so that if a potential employer needs advice regarding the routes to recruiting a non-EEA graduate, they can obtain it from there. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) advice line is also an excellent source of support for international students.

  • UKBA Employer Helpline: telephone 0300 123 4699 or via email
  • UKCISA advice line open from Monday to Friday, 1pm - 4pm: 020 7107 9922

Tier 4 – Doctorate Extension Scheme

The Doctorate Extension Scheme is relevant to PhD students who are about to complete. It allows you to extend your Tier 4 status for 12 months. You can work and look for work during this period, but would need a Tier 2 sponsor after this time. The date of your application under the extension scheme must be within 60 days of the expected end date of the course leading to the award of PhD. Certain rules apply in order for you to be eligible including having achieved your PhD within 4 years, 100% attendance, tuition fees all paid, and no immigration rules having been broken.

The University remains your sponsor during this period, and you must respond to all Salford emails within 10 days, tell us of changes in address or email immediately, tell us if you leave the UK

Further information about the scheme is available here:  www.pg.salford.ac.uk/doc_extension

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent

This route is open to postdoctoral researchers who have already made a significant contribution to their field and have proven potential to be a world leader.

Applicants will have held or hold a prestigious UK/international research fellowship and have a personal recommendation from an eminent qualified UK resident. They may also have evidence of a relevant prize or award for early career research and funding achieved during/following tenure of fellowship.

Applications under this category need to be endorsed by a National Academy, such as the British Academy /The Royal Society / The Royal Academy of Engineering.

Tier 1 – Graduate Entrepreneur

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category allows international graduates to extend their stay after graduation to establish one or more businesses in the UK.

The University of Salford is now able to sponsor 10 students / graduates (of less than 1 year) on a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.  

To be eligible for this scheme you will be required to submit a formal electronic version of business plan which must include, at a minimum:

  • Executive Summary
  • Market Research
  • Marketing Plan
  • Personal Survival Budget
  • Cashflow Forecast
  • Provisional Profit/Loss

The business plan will be assessed by enterprise staff at the university and recommended to the Home Ofice. 

If the business plan is deemed to have merit, you will be invited to give a business summary presentation as the final selection criteria. 

If you are a Student or Graduate interested in the scheme you can email enterprise@salford.ac.uk with a request for a preliminary interview and quote “Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneurship Request”. Enterprise staff will be able to help you with making this kind of visa application.

Make sure you use your time wisely in the UK by gaining relevant skills and experiences that will help you secure a job with that company.

Take advantage of everything you can whilst at University ensuring to develop skills that UK employers are after. Below are just some of the things we offer here at the University that will help boost your employability:

  • Part-Time Job/Placements - Gain some real life experiences through a part-time job or a placement linked to your degree
  • Volunteering can be a great way to develop new skills, get exposure to an area of work you are interested and do something that you enjoy.
  • Enterprise - Many employers highly value Entrepreneurial skills. With many activities around how to start your own business, run your own project as well as the ENACTUS society who run and develop outreach projects in the community- plenty to get your teeth into.
  • Having a high standard of English is an essential skill to have when applying for jobs in the UK. Where possible practise your English as much as possible. Here are places you can go to help: Salford University Salford Languages, regional International Society