International Students: A Brief Guide to Working in the UK Post-Graduation

Last December, the UK authorities made announcements regarding allowing international students to stay and work in the country for up to a year after the expiration of their study visa. This initiative is part of the measures the UK government wants to adapt to increase the Labor force by 30% and also raise the sector’s income to £35b annually.

Things to look out for

The following are important things to note if you wish to study in the UK.
  1. Duration: The current rule allows the PhD degree holders to stay in the UK for one extra year while other graduates are only restricted to an additional four months after graduation. However, according to the Department of Education, this has been changed as the Bachelor’s, and master’s degree holders have an extension to about six months after graduation. Doctoral graduates still have a window of one year.
  2. When to switch: most times, international students holding the Tier 4 visa may decide to switch to Tier 2 work visa which is for highly skilled workers. For eligibility, a Tier 4 sponsor must have sponsored the visa holder. Also, a UK employer with a Tier 2 sponsor license must have offered a job for the student; as such, a Confirmation needs to be presented, amongst other requirements. But due to these changes, you can now apply for a switch of up to three months prior to finishing the course in the UK and from outside the country for two years after graduation.
  1. Working between the end of studies and end of Tier 4 student visa leave: As As confirmed by An employer’s guide to rights to work checks, a publication of the Home Office, the work conditions of the student permit him/her to work full time at the end of his/her course. Though this rule is subject to other rules, it may be outlined on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or the visa sticker. You will also be able to undertake a full-time job until your application to remain under a work route is decided. You can visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs page for more information.
  1. Salary Threshold: For the fresh graduates, the government still wishes to continue with the lower salary threshold. £20,800 is the minimum salary earned annually by new entrants who are under the Tier 2 (General) route. However, other roles pay at least £30,000 annually.
  2. Medium-level skill jobs to be open to non-EU Citizens: Presently, Non-EU citizens with qualifications of Medium-level skills such as higher education diplomas, higher national diplomas, advanced apprenticeships, A-levels, foundation degrees are ineligible for highly-skilled Tier 2 route which is strictly for graduate-level jobs. Only EU citizens have access to this route. However, the UK government has stated its interest to include the intermediate skilled workers in the skilled workers' route once the Free Movement comes to an end – while the salary threshold of £30,000 is maintained. As such, the non-EU nationals will also have access to these jobs if needed by employers.
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