Successful first online Q and A – more coming in summer term

 In the last week of Spring term,  the Careers Service (Mandy Simmons, Careers Information Officer) and Immigration advice team (Alison Learwood, Immigration Adviser) joined forces to answer questions in our first online Q&A for international students focusing on working in the UK.

For anyone who missed it here is a summary of some of the general questions we dealt with:

Q. How to deal with vacancies that state applicants must have a “work permit” to apply

A. If you find yourself in this situation when applying for jobs it’s likely that the employer doesn’t understand the immigration rules (they are complicated and change frequently but “work permits” have not existed for a long time). You may need to help them to understand how it would be possible for them to employ you within the current immigration rules.

Large companies should know about the Tier 2 visa already, but the Tier 5 Temporary worker is not very much known about. However it is an option that gives employers the chance to get great international graduate talent into their workplace for up to 1 year – so it could be a great solution especially for smaller businesses.

You can find information for employers on our website and direct them to it  “International Talent” section.  If you have problems or questions come and talk to us at a Careers drop in session.

Q. How long does it take to get a Tier 2 visa?

A. The questions around this were mainly concerned with feeling that a Tier 2 visa had to be in place before your Tier 4 visas expired. However this is not the case. As long as you have found a suitable job and employer who has issued a Certificate of Sponsorship for you, and you have made your Tier 2 visa application before your Tier 4 visa expires, you are permitted to remain in the UK until you get a decision about your Tier 2 visa application. Actual processing times vary.

Q. How much do you have to earn in order to be eligible for a Tier 2 visa?

A. This is a question that is pretty confusing for everyone. The minimum you are allowed to earn is £20,800.  However if the “New Entrant” level in the Governments Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Codes is higher you must earn that higher salary. Here are a few examples:

  • Avionics Engineer – New Entrant: £25,200
  • Chemical Engineer – New Entrant: £22,900
  • IT Manager – New Entrant: £26,500

Even if the SOC code gives a New Entrant level salary which is less than £20,800, you are still required to earn a minimum of £20,800.

It’s actually a bit more complicated than that but understanding this as a basic principle is a useful place to start.

Q. Differences between Tier 2 visa and Tier 5 Temporary worker visa

A. These are two completely separate visas for completely different purposes. It is useful to really consider what your career plan is before deciding what kind of visa will meet your needs.  This will help you focus your job search and research more effectively.

Tier 2 (General) – this is a visa for professional, graduate level work in the UK that can be issued for up to 5 years and can lead to settlement in the UK provided conditions are met. It allows UK employers  (who are registered on the Tier 2 sponsor list) to recruit the best talent for their businesses by making it easier to recruit an international graduate straight from a UK university. If certain conditions are met and the new graduate is applying for Tier 2 from within the UK with a valid Tier 4 visa:

  • an employer does NOT have to carry out the ‘Resident Labour Market Test’ (RLMT)
  • they can issue an unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship
  • the new Immigration Skills Charge does NOT apply

Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) – this is more like a post study work experience visa. It is intended for short term (usually up to 12 months) work experience/internship related to your course of study. It is to help you get some UK work experience before returning home to pursue your graduate career. The employer does not have to be a registered sponsor in this case, however they will need to use the services of an overarching sponsoring body who will issue a Certificate of Sponsorship in order for you to apply for the Tier 5 visa.  There is no high salary requirement for this visa.


Thank you to everyone who took part and for asking some great questions.  We have had a number of follow up appointments in Careers to look a bit more closely at individual questions around job search.  We hope to run more of these online Q&A sessions in the summer term focusing on specific areas of Working in the UK – more details to follow.


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