Table of Contents

With Brexit negotiations now in full swing, and 20 per cent of the current student population made up by international talent, graduate opportunities for international students is as hot a topic as ever.

For many international students studying in British universities, the prospect of graduation can be concerning. Students from all over the globe, who have found a home, friends and a life in the UK, are suddenly forced to uproot their lives and either leave the UK or find a new visa route when their student visa expires.

Working in the UK

For most non-EU international graduates, the Tier 2 Work Visa is the most popular route to take on a graduate role. This visa route allows the holder to take on skilled, permanent work in the UK and lasts for up to six years. This option is ideal for those looking to settle in the UK long-term, as it allows them to qualify for settlement further down the line. Unfortunately, the Tier 2 route is becoming increasingly competitive due to the government-imposed cap on incoming migrations. Each month this year, the cap on Tier 2 Visas has been reached. This cap has only once before been reached since its introduction by then-Home Secretary Theresa May in 2011.To add to this, according to Tier 2 guidelines, any applicants must wait an obligatory 28-day period before they can access the application process for their desired job while it is advertised to ‘residential’ (this means UK and EU) talent.

This puts many international students from outside the EU at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for graduate roles in the UK; positions become less frequent and highly competitive and meeting the student visa cut-off date is made harder.

Skills Shortage

However – it’s not all doom and gloom, and there are ways in which certain graduates can avoid these obstacles. This applies when an international student is an ‘in-demand’ graduate. A graduate who is ‘in-demand’ studies a degree which qualifies/equips them with the skills to take on jobs which are officially ‘in shortage’ in the UK. ‘In-shortage’ jobs refer to roles which are suffering from a shortage of residential talent – or in other words are acknowledged as being officially in need of foreign talent.

An exhaustive list of the UK’s shortage roles can be found on a government resource called the Shortage Occupation List. This list includes over 100 titles in a range of categories, ranging from Engineering to Dance.

The good news is that anyone qualified for any of the roles named on the list can automatically bypass the 28-day waiting period when applying for one of them. This gives them access to all advertised roles at the same time as British and European applicants, meaning that they have a much higher chance of getting the job. With this, their chances of success are also increased by the shortage itself, as there will be a real demand for them and the skills they bring with them.

Possible Roles

Included in the Shortage Occupation List are roles within the Civil, Mechanical, Process, Electrical, Electronic, Production and Design Engineering industries. Some of these roles include: ‘Chemical Engineer’, ‘Power System Engineer’ and ‘Process Safety Engineer’.

Also included in the list are titles under the Healthcare and Medical categories, such as ‘Old-Age Psychiatrist’, ‘Radiographer’ and ‘Nurse’.

Alongside this, the list also includes various other titles in the Dance, Music, Graphic Design, IT, Culinary, Social Care and Physical Science sectors, to name a few.

With this in mind, anyone studying a degree which qualifies them to take on any of these roles – for example, a relevant Engineering degree, a degree in Medicine or a specific Arts degree – may be highly in-demand in the UK. If this is the case, their chances of successfully applying for a graduate role in the UK will be hugely increased.

This article is written by Luna Williams from the Immigration Advice Service, a law firm which specializes in immigration assistance, including help for international students and graduates.