Can Overseas (Non-UK) Students and Graduates Apply for Jobs in the UK?

Visa Sponsored Job

It is every graduate’s dream to launch a career on a global platform where they can shine. The United Kingdom, one of the world’s largest business centres, provides many such platforms for students and graduates alike.

Before Brexit, for non-EU nationals, the country had always been a difficult career destination to reach. All students and graduates from overseas, who were studying in the UK, were also subject to the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), and priority was always given to local EU (European Union) students and graduates.

However, after Brexit, things have gradually changed. Due to border restrictions, the UK does not have access to a large pool of students and graduates from mainland Europe anymore, and it has been challenging for many organisations to fill their vacancies with qualifying local students and graduates. To help employers find the right talents, UK regulatory bodies launched different visa schemes,  which encouraged the companies to reconsider their recruitment strategies and look beyond the UK border.

In 2021, the requirement for a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) was removed, allowing every international student in the UK to have access to the same opportunities as local students. It means, now, as long as the company is willing to sponsor a work visa, they do not need to prove that they cannot find suitable candidates from people who have the existing right to work in the UK before hiring international students.

The Graduate Visa has also been introduced to encourage UK-based international students to seek employment in the UK after finishing their studies. Depending on one’s education level, the Graduate Visa is often valid for 2 – 3 years. With a Graduate visa, you can do internships, part-time or full-time jobs in the UK or even start your company. However, the employment can only last for up to 2 years, or 3 years if you have a PhD degree. Before your Graduate visa expires, you either need to switch to another type of visa or leave the country. Therefore, not all companies can accommodate graduate visa holders as the employer will need to sponsor you if you need to be employed for a longer term.

It was not the end of the story. The UK Government even went a step further and launched a High Potential Individual visa (HPI). This visa is very similar to the Graduate visa in terms of how it works. The only difference is that HPI Visa is aimed at people who are not studying at a UK university. HPI holders can work in the UK for either 2 or 3 years, depending on their education level and do internships, part-time or full-time jobs without restriction. However, the HPI visa is only open for students and graduates of the world’s top 50 universities, which is one of the downsides of this visa.

If you are a Graduate visa or HPI visa holder and only want to work in the UK for a short term, you can apply for a job you are interested in, like other people who have the right to work. However, this is not the case for most job seekers as they want a long-term career or people who are planning to settle in the UK.

At this point, students and graduates who have neither been to the UK nor studied at those top 50 universities or who have returned to their home countries after finishing their school in the UK must be wondering whether they can apply for a job in the UK. 

The answer is yes. As more and more employers are hiring internationally, the demand for overseas workers is increasing. Many companies started hiring students and graduates who do not have a valid visa to work in the UK as long as the candidate can successfully secure a job offer and meet the immigration requirements

Also, the scope of jobs available is wide, covering more than 30 sectors and allowing many people to find their dream job in the field they want to work in. When it comes to some areas, there may be very limited visa-sponsored jobs available, especially for recent graduates. We encourage applicants to stay open-minded and explore more career opportunities rather than limiting their focus to one area.

In summary, UK’s hunger for talent has opened the door for talented students and graduates from around the world who want to pursue their careers in this wonderful country. You do not have to be a UK graduate or do not have to have graduated from the world’s top universities. While the opportunity is here, it is now down to you, the job seeker, to work hard to seize it and be a part of the global professional family.