6 min read

Elina completed her undergraduate degree in Architecture in July 2018. As an international student from Russia, Elina had been in the UK on a Tier 4 visa during her study, but was keen to gain work experience before pursuing a Masters degree in Architecture next year.

Elina sought information and advice from UoP Global and the Careers and Employability Service to support her in exploring her options to secure employment in the UK. Having received confirmation of a successful application in November 2018, Elina has now been issued with the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange visa having worked with the employer and Tier 5 Intern to successfully navigate her way through the process. She is now working for a small architecture practice in Kent, allowing her to gain valuable experience before pursuing an application for further study.

We asked Elina to let us know about her experience as an international student aiming to secure employment here in the UK in between undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Elina's experience

How did you source an opportunity knowing that you would require some kind of work visa? Did you alter your search because of this?

"I applied to almost every job posting available online during the summer months and particularly targeting bigger firms as to my knowledge, bigger firms are usually more familiar with visas or are Tier 2 rated sponsors. I also sent speculative applications to firms listed in the Tier 2 General sponsors list [through the Government website]."

How did you settle on the Tier 5 route and what was the process of applying?

"I initially had planned on applying for the Tier 2 General work visa, as it was the only route I was aware of. However, when the time came and the job offer I received was from a very small company, which did not have a sponsoring license, the Tier 5 route proved to be the only possible way. [The company did not have any awareness or knowledge of the opportunity to apply for employee sponsorship through Tier 5].

The process of applying involved myself getting in touch with a third party sponsor, which in my case was Tier 5 intern, and explaining to them my situation. At the same time, I prompted my employer to get in touch with Tier 5 intern as well, as the employer needed to register with Tier 5 intern first.

Once the employer’s registration was approved, only then was the sponsorship letter issued. After this, the process was much simpler as I had all the necessary information, it only involved completing the visa application form online and sending it to the Home Office."

How did you communicate with your prospective employer regarding your visa situation?

"I was very lucky as my employer was very eager to hire me regardless of time constraints and visa issues. Therefore, once I had explained to them the process and fees involved in applying through Tier 5 Intern (we also agreed on splitting the cost in half), the employer was on board."

Were you aware of the post-study visa situation in the UK prior to studying here?

"I was not aware of how challenging it would be to secure a job that would offer sponsorship.

I was disappointed that whilst the architecture programme emphasized and encouraged the ‘year out’ between finishing bachelors and starting a masters degree, this proved difficult to secure."

How did the advice and information offered by UoP Global and the Careers and Employability Service support you?

"The UoP Global office helped with any queries I had to do with my student visa and the transition involved in changing to a work visa. Whilst the Careers and Employability Service provided me with information on the different types of post-study visas available in the UK and which one would be most suitable in my situation."

What were the major challenges?

"Besides finding a job with visa sponsorship, one of the challenges I faced was time constraints as I received the job offer only in the first week of September [2018]. This meant I had very little time left to apply before my student visa expired at the end of the month.

Another challenge for me was researching and gathering all the necessary information about the tier 5 visa, the process, fees and time involved which I found very stressful doing so by myself."

What would be your top tip for any international student that finds themselves in the same position?

"The key is to familiarise yourself with the post-study visa options in the UK as early as possible. Therefore my advice is to do lots of research on this and do not hesitate to ask for help and guidance from the university’s advisers (UoP Global and the Careers and Employability Service) as it can get overwhelming."

What is your plan for the future?

"I am planning to return to university and pursue a Masters degree in Architecture once this year out in practice is completed."

Further information

Are you an international student looking to secure work here in the UK after graduation? Check out the information and resources available through the websites below:

  • UKCISA - The UK Council for International Student Affairs is the UK's national advisory body for serving the interests of international students. Contains in-depth advice on everything about life in the UK as an international student from visa information to the practicalities of day-to-day living. UKCISA also has a student advice line available to ring Monday to Friday.
  • GOV.UK - The UK Government provides key information about visa requirements and restrictions when working in the UK.
  • Targetjobs - International students’ guide to working in the UK with information and advice on visa conditions and job search tactics.
  • NARIC - Designated national agency responsible for providing information, advice and expert opinion on qualifications worldwide. Here you can find information on how your previous qualifications may be recognised in the UK.
  • UK Border Agency - This is the UK Government's official visa and immigration information for working in the UK.
  • List of accredited immigration advisers - Search by region to find immigration advice near where you live and to find immigration advisors who specialise in particular types of immigration, asylum or nationality cases.

Sponsoring Bodies under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange

  • UKCISA - provides an overview of the Government Authorised Exchange and links to further resources to support your research in this area.
  • GOV.UK - offers a list of approved Tier 5 government authorised exchange schemes.
  • Tier 5 Intern Scheme - a Government Authorised Exchange scheme design specifically to allow undergraduates and graduates from overseas to gain experience working in UK industry.
  • Access Tier 5 - offering sponsorship to non-EEA graduates to undertake work experience with UK employers; endorsed by the Home Office and BEIS.

Need further help and support?

You can also access the Careers and Employability Service to discuss your job search strategy to secure employment and/or work experience in the UK or internationally.

We offer a drop-in service Monday to Thursday 08.30am until 5.00pm or Friday 08.30am until 4.00pm and are based in the Careers and Employability Centre, 28 Guildhall Walk (opposite Astoria). Alternatively, you can book for a 20 minute appointment online through your MyCareer account or call us to book a 40 minute guidance appointment on 02392 842684.

UoP Global, based in the Nuffield Centre, also have International Student Advisers who are available to give help on any issues you wish to discuss.