Advice to international students looking to work in the UK after graduation

This is a tough time of year for international graduates. Many have enjoyed their time living and studying in the UK, making new friends and connections as well as achieving the necessary academic results to earn their degrees. The next step is often to explore how to extend this academic experience by applying for jobs.

The UK job market is difficult enough for recent Masters graduates to find employment, but with a four-month time limit before student visas expire in the January after graduating this can seem like an impossible task for international students.

Here are some suggestions to help prepare for this challenge:

  1. What visa do I need to apply for?

Any international student who wants to work in the UK after completing their studies will need to apply for a Tier 2 visa that is supported by a registered UK employer sponsor.

The QMUL Advice & Counselling website contains lots of information on the options for international students who want to remain in the UK to work after their studies, or who want to return to the UK in future for work. Make sure you are aware of the latest salary requirements and conditions of the Tier 2 visa. For further information, Advice & Counselling are based in Geography Square on the Mile End campus.

For graduates with a genuine and credible business idea, see our website for information on the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.

  1. How can I find a job in a company that offers tier 2 visas?

You can check if an employer is on the Home Office list of registered UK employer sponsors: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-licensed-sponsors-workers

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Careers outside London

After studying at QMUL, it might seem like the natural option to look for work in the capital after graduation. The number of possible businesses to apply to as well as the vast and diverse job options available in London is almost too big to comprehend. Many companies have their head offices here and it is also a big centre for industries such as finance, politics and media/arts to name a few.

Typically the salaries are higher too, which is often a big incentive for graduates looking to pay off their student loans as quickly as possible. But there is also a lot of competition, not just from other graduates in London, but also graduates from the rest of the UK and even worldwide.

However, by only looking at London based jobs, you could be seriously narrowing your options and missing out on some excellent opportunities. Tech Nation’s ‘Powering the Digital Economy’ report from 2015 suggests that almost 75% of UK digital companies are based outside of London, whilst this recent article from CV Library which highlights the top 10 locations for salary growth (July 2017) shows that London is some way behind other towns and cities across the UK.

With London in 7th place, with a salary increase of 1.5% since 2016, Sheffield is booming with an average rise of 11.3%, whilst the cost of living is likely to be far cheaper outside the capital.

For more information about regional vacancies across the UK, see this guide from Target Jobs.