As international students in the UK you are probably wondering “What are my options after studying?”

Many of you know all about the Tier 2 & Tier 4 visa process, and that the Tier 2 visa status is changing. Here are the key facts and figures you need to know now.


THE FACTS about visas:

The UK has a points-based system.

The UK Government objective – to ensure the route remains open to the “brightest and best workers who will help Britain succeed.”

To work in the UK students need a Sponsor. A Sponsor is a UK based organisation that wishes to employ an overseas applicant in the UK. An employer with a Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licence needs to apply for Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS).

Since April 2015, all Tier 2 visa holders must earn an annual salary of at least £20,800.There are also certain jobs where the minimum thresholds are greater than £20,800.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) advises the government on Migration to the UK. MAC has set out this year’s recommendations, as follows:

International students UK and the recommended changes

  1. Recommendations – Salary Thresholds

International students in the UK may have to follow the recommended salary thresholds below:

Tier 2 (General)

Experienced £30,000

New Entrants £23,000


  1. Recommendations – Immigration Skills Surcharge

MAC has recommended the introduction of an Immigration Skills Charge – could be up to £1,000 per Tier 2 migrant per year.


  1. Recommendations – Restrictions to Tier 2 (General)

To see a regular review of the Shortage Occupations list (SOL) i.e. in which occupations is the UK lacking suitable employees. There has to be a shortage of native workers to fill the vacancies.

Companies may have to provide evidence on their recruitment drives in order to show that they are actively trying to resolve the shortages within their sector.


  1. Recommendations – Restrictions to Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfers)

The amount of prior experience required for a candidate applying for Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer should be raised to 24 months, however this should not apply to the graduate and skills transfers route.

Chair of the MAC, Professor Sir David Metcalf CBE said, “The MAC’s focus in this report is on analysis rather than recommendations.

Our recommendations on the Tier 2 route will be published after we have examined in full the extensive evidence of the impact of raising pay thresholds on particular companies.

The MAC received evidence from business heavyweights including Lloyds Banking Group, Rolls-Royce and Siemens.

Some professions, such as graduate recruitment schemes and healthcare roles and, might be separated from the Tier 2 route as a short-term measure. This would be good for international students in the UK.


International students in the UK: What can you do?

  • Under this system with your visa Tier 4 you have only 4 months to find a job after you finish your studies. This is why it is so important to start looking for your future job now.
  • The earlier, the better. If you begin your job search and applications in your second to last year or at the beginning of your final year you will be in a much better position.
  • Applications can take time. Forms can be pages and pages long, so juggling this with your university work is tough.

Be organised and think ahead.

The good news is we know that companies are sponsoring international graduates and you CAN get a job. International students in the UK need to be well prepared and apply early.

To increase your chances you need to be focused and submit high quality job applications to get your job offer.

We can help you with every step of the job application process from start to finish. We can help you to get that top graduate job.


Did you know?

There is a Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Scheme (GAES) for those who would like to gain work experience within their particular field in the UK.

The work experience is usually provided by a UK company who has already offered an Internship opportunity to the graduate but cannot employ them due to Immigration restrictions.

Please click on the following link for the list of Tier 5 GAE sponsors:


UK Council for International Student Affairs:–Advice/Working/Can-you-work

MAC Report:

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