Every year many international students come to the UK to study at our Universities. Naturally, once someone has been studying and living in the UK for a while, they may want to stay past the end of their course and build a life here. The main way to do this is by obtaining a Tier 2 visa but this can be hard to come by, particularly if the Tier 4 expiry date is soon.

We’ve got 5 tips to help you use your Tier 4 time to find a permanent job in the UK.

1. Do part time work

If you are studying for a course that is full time and degree level or above, you will be allowed to work 20 hours a week during term time and full time during vacation periods and at the end of your course.

By using this time to work part time for employers in the field of your chosen future career, you will build up invaluable experience and contacts. Employers who are not already registered sponsors are more willing to consider getting a sponsor licence where they already know the student and consider them a valuable part of their future plans.

2. Take up internships and work experience

The Tier 4 visa allows for work placements where it is an integral and assessed part of your course. These placements would not use up your allowed working time. Again, this can help you build up experience and business contacts. Alternatively, if you are not on a formal placement as part of your course, you can use the working hours on your visa to undertake periods of work experience and internships. These placements give you the opportunity to hone your skills and decide whether your planned career is truly the one for you. This can help narrow your job search when it comes to finding a graduate role.

Whilst you have access to an opportunity such as work experience or an internship, use the time to meet people who are a year or two ahead of you and find out how they got started. If they are previous international students, even better – they could help you understand how to approach an employer about sponsorship for a Tier 2 role.

3. Understand how switching works

As an international student, you have a number of advantages when trying to get a Tier 2 role, compared to people currently outside the UK. Employers don’t have to have advertised the role for 28 days before they offer it to you, and the salary threshold is £20,800 rather than £30,000 (though this depends on the length of the visa and the type of role). Employers don’t have to request a restricted certificate of sponsorship in order to employ you, they can assign you an unrestricted certificate without having to wait. In addition, the Immigration Skills Charge does not apply when hiring someone currently on a Tier 4 visa – this keeps the costs down for employers.

Many employers can still be hesitant to employ international students so take a look at our Top 5 Myths about Hiring International Students  to help you answer any of their concerns.

4. Use your careers team

To help you understand the best way to approach employers when you need a visa to work in the UK, you should contact the careers team at your university. It may be that there is a separate service for international students which offers events and information to help you network and build up desirable skills prior to applying to roles.

The careers service will be able to help you with your CV and might be able to provide you with insights into how best to promote yourself based on your skill set as an international student – increasingly employers are looking for specific language skills, or knowledge of a specific international market. This can set you apart from other graduates and help persuade an employer to sponsor you.

5. Join societies and make contacts with other international students

Finally, your time at university should be enjoyable and you should be able to soak in the local culture and immerse yourself in student life. Joining societies based around your interests can open the door to new contacts who may be able to provide you with advice and guidance. Mixing with other international students, particularly those in your field of study can help you understand how they gain employment in the UK and which employers may be best to approach.

Most important of all, is to enjoy your time in the UK. If you want any further information regarding visas, please contact Farleys immigration law team on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.