International Postgrads & UK Work Permits

When I asked the new MBS Masters postgrads today what they wanted me to blog about, the cry came back – work permits. So, here’s how to find out all you wanted to know about working in the UK for international postgrads.

It’s complicated and has changed significantly over the last few months, so the best way to get a summary of the current situation is to look at the International pages of the Careers Service website. The gist of it is that there are now three main ways in which international postgrads could legally work in the UK after graduating with a UK degree. The health warning is that it is still changing, so you need to check the Government websites (links are on our own careers website) to get the up to date picture.

  • You can apply for a 2 year Post study Work (Tier 1) visa, which gives you the right to work (in any work) without an employer having to apply for a work permit or register. This was changed from a 1 year scheme over the summer and is a big improvement for international students. It has a points based system for qualifying, with points being awarded for the level of qualification you will be awarded (postgraduate degrees at Manchester should qualify for 75 points), further points for English language capability, and more points for having a minimum amount of funds in the bank for a specified time, to maintain yourself if you don’t immediately find work. 
    The reason this is an improvement is that many, if not most, employers were reluctant to employ someone knowing they could only legally work for 1 year. At 2 years, you can make a better case that employers will get a return on any investment in training you. However, some employers will still be reluctant, particularly if their profession demands a lengthy training process.
  • You can apply for a Highly Skilled Visa (Tier 1 General) which gives you the right to work (in any work) for 2 years, again without an employer having to apply for a work permit. This sort of visa is extendable for up to 3 years, if you still meet the qualifying criteria, another points-based system which differs to the Post Study visa.
  • If you have significant work experience and can convince an employer that they need to recruit you because they can’t find anyone else in the EU to do the job, the “Tier 2 Sponsored Skilled Worker” scheme is expected to be in place this autumn. This is the one where the employer has to get the work permit and be registered to employ you, and the permit is specific to that job and that employer. You definitely need to check the Careers Service website and the links to the Government site to keep on top of the changes to this one.

You can be alerted to any changes we become aware of through the Manchester International Careers Blog, and we have a talk all about Work Permits coming up on Friday 10th October, from 1.00-2.00 in Roscoe Building, Room 2.2.

Hope that gets you started and you have fun exploring the extensive resources on the International section of our website, and if you are looking to return home after your postgraduate degree, don’t forget to look at the Country Information part of our website with information and further weblinks for a very wide range of countries all over the world (including Ukraine for the Masters student who asked me after the talk!)


2 comments on “International Postgrads & UK Work Permits

  1. Thank you for the note! Especially for mentioning thinking-of-coming-back students and possibilities for them 🙂

  2. Hi Ievgen

    Just thought I’d prove that we don’t ignore all those who want to work outside the UK.

    Actually, I’ll make this the topic for a future post on its own. Although very many international students come to us asking about working in the UK, we believe that a large proportion will start their working lives back in their home country and it’s really important that even those determined to work in the UK on graduation have a back-up plan and maintain contacts in their home country.

    Hmm, I can see this is going to be a longer post, so maybe it will be later in the semester, when I’ve got time to do it justice…


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