Skip to main content

Your career launchpad: The perks and pitfalls of studying and landing a job in the UK

We look at how international students can stay and work in the UK.

Group of students

Many international students come to the UK to go to university and are keen to stay on and start their career with a UK employer when they graduate. The good news is that for those who have achieved a bachelor’s degree or above from an approved UK higher education provider, you may be eligible for the Graduate Visa.

This means those who have studied an occupational health and safety degree may be able to remain in the UK legally while they find work in the profession. The same applies to other graduates who have studied STEM (science, technology, engineering, or maths) subjects, which can also lead into the profession.

Once you have finished your studies, you can apply for a visa through the graduate route ideally as soon as possible, and before your student permission expires. If successful, you will receive a two-year period in which you can remain and work in the UK (three if you are applying having completed doctoral studies).

You will have to pay both an application fee and a healthcare surcharge. Applications can be made online, and you will need to have the UK Immigration: ID Check app, as well as several key documents.

Employers do not need sponsor licence to hire someone with a Graduate visa as it is an unsponsored route, so it is a fantastic way for companies to secure international student talent with less upfront costs.

Those looking to remain in the UK beyond the period granted by the graduate route would need to look at the next appropriate visa for them, for example the skilled worker visa.

Sponsors and salary

With full working visas, there is a need for an employer to sponsor an individual, and that employer must be on the worker and temporary worker sponsors list. It is possible to go direct from a student visa on to a skilled worker visa if you have already secured an employer sponsor, and it may even be the case that the employer might also cover the cost of the application and the immigration health surcharge.

Meeting these requirements will help you meet the government rules under its new immigration system, while achieving a degree-level qualification counts as meeting the English language stipulation. A further potential hurdle is the minimum salary threshold, which has recently been increased. However, there are currently exemptions to this for example, those on the graduate route or if you are under 26.

It is important to note that this is a fast-moving area, as the UK government attempts to balance levels of immigration. Check government websites and other sources of advice to ensure you have the latest information and reach out to your university careers service for local advice.