My full time job right now is trying to find a job that will sponsor a Tier 2 visa so I can stay in the country.
If it was just about getting a job, I would already be set. But I need to get a specific kind of job that the Home Office has designated as fit for sponsorship. And no, shelving is not one of them.
I have found pitfalls and setbacks, stumbling my way through this process. So, I want to share my experience in hopes that others can use what I have learned to make their process easier and more efficient.
It wasn’t always this hard. Until 2012, anyone who finished a degree in the UK could get a Post-Study Work Visa to work in any old job for up to 2 years. This visa option was revoked because of a tightening of immigration policy (I smell a conservative government). Now, unless you’re skilled in a STEM field, generally super-skilled, or a member of the Commonwealth, options are limited to a Skilled Workers visa, which I am seeking, an Entrepreneurial Visa, a Temporary Worker Visa, or leave to Remain with Family. Damn Canada!
Until a couple weeks ago, I was applying mostly to jobs in academic administration and libraries. I had an interview for an Events and Administrative Assistant position that went very well, however, I found out the same day I didn’t get the job. So I asked for feedback. Always ask for feedback. What could I have done better? I got an email saying I had a great interviewing style and they loved my answer about what makes a good event. I could improve on my story about dealing with problem clients by giving an example with direct closure to the problem, but overall, really good. So…Why was someone else better than I was? Well, they weren’t, exactly. Two positions were open. Only one was filled; and they opened the role to external applicants. If my interview was so good, why couldn’t I fill it? During the interview, there was one point of tension. Then it was there again in my feedback email, the first point: VISA.
They did not believe they could sponsor a visa for this position. Ok, so it’s my own fault. I assumed any job meeting the salary requirements that required a degree would be eligible for sponsorship, and, moreover, that employers would know the rules and take responsibility for knowing whether they can sponsor a candidate. Not so. First, I heard that they needed to advertise extensively, to conduct a Residential Labour Market Test, in order to even consider sponsoring for the position. I at least knew better than that. Because I am legally in the UK on a Tier 4 Student Visa, employers are (THANKFULLY) exempt from any criteria of the Labour Market Test. In other words: They do NOT have to prove that no UK citizen could do the job and I am the only person able to fill it. They can treat my hiring more or less like any other.
That interview was a stepping stone. I learned. Now I know what I have to do. I have to know my visa options and requirement inside out so I can recite them to potential employers. Employers are thinking about your fitness for the job; you don’t want them worrying about how to legally grant you a new immigrant status. Know what they have to do, if the job absolutely meets the requirements, and make it sound easy. Offer to help. If you get the job, it will be worth it.
Things to know:
- If the company/organisation has a license to sponsor Tier 2 Visas. The current list of licensed sponsors in the UK is here.
- The skill level of the role for which you are applying. It must be at least NQF Skill Level 6. Check here.
- The salary. It must be at least £20,500, which can include London Weighting. Some positions require a higher salary, and some allow for lower. Check the above documents for the specific role.
- Cost of application. For an employer to provide one certificate of sponsorship, it currently costs them £182. Take it out of my salary if you must!
- Is the role on the shortage list? These are mostly STEM positions (Nurses, High-tech techies, physicists, chemistry teachers, etc.). Unfortunately, nothing I’m applying for or *could* apply for.
- What are your personal responsibilities? Can you meet them?
- Here is general information for you to know about switching to your Tier 2 Visa and here is an extended version.
- To switch from a Tier 4 Visa, you must have proof that you have passed your degree and received it from an accredited UK institution. A transcript will do, but you must have your final marks. Know when you will get your final marks. It’s 11 November for me. Your institution is accredited is they could sponsor your Tier 4 Visa, so, basically, you’re good to go if you’ve been here legally thus far.
The information I have provided applies to people looking to switch from (any?) visa to a Tier 2 (General) visa. I think it’s applicable if you want to apply from overseas without a visa, but for that there are more requirements…like the Labour Market Test. I also think it applies to all the Tier 2 sub-categories, but do double check.
Basically, read through this and all its links over and over. I do commend the UK government for having such accessible, organised web pages providing visa information. Maybe they *do* want us to stay?!
Best of luck to anyone looking to stay in the UK after graduation!