If your company hires foreign college graduates, immigration will be an important part of the hiring and onboarding processes. Switching from a Student visa to a Skilled Worker visa isn’t always easy for the candidate, but if the sponsor and applicant work together on the application, the process can be made easier and more certain.
The Graduate route, which was put in place in 2021, was meant to make it easier for international students to stay in the UK after they graduated by making it easier for them to stay in the country. However, in practise, employers are looking to move graduate hires straight into the Skilled Worker route as a more long-term solution to hiring. Changes to immigration rules in July 2023 mean that foreign students who want to switch from a Student visa to a Skilled Worker visa while they are in the country must meet certain conditions.
In this guide, we look at how businesses can use the Skilled Worker route to hire international students to work for their company.
In 2020, the Student visa took the place of the Tier 4 student visa. This article talks about the Student visa, but in general, both kinds of visas are talked about.
Hiring international graduates
Student visa holders can work for companies in the UK, but only under certain conditions and if their visa allows it.
For example, if the visa holder is still in school, they can only work a certain number of hours per week during term time, but they can work full-time when school is out.
If you want to hire a student visa holder after they finish school, you will need to make sure that their immigration status is in order and that the type of job you are giving is legal for them.
Student visa holders who want to stay in the UK to work after they graduate have a number of visa choices and programmes to choose from.
Skilled Worker visa is the most popular way to get a work visa.
Student visa holders can switch to the Skilled Worker visa category as long as they meet the standards for the visa.
Students with a short-term student visa, on the other hand, can’t apply to change to a skilled worker visa.
Skilled worker visa requirements
Under new rules established in July 2023, student visa holders or those whose last grant of leave was as a student can only move to the Skilled Worker path if one of the following requirements apply:
The applicant must have completed their course of study and received a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, or be a full-time, degree-level student with a track record of immigration compliance. The job cannot start before the course completion date, or be a PhD student with a track record of immigration compliance.
As with all Skilled Worker applications, the job and applicant must meet visa requirements.
The position must meet skill and compensation requirements.
Roles at Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 3, comparable to a UK A-level, are eligible. The Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Occupations contains Skilled Worker-eligible jobs with SOC codes that correlate to a “going rate” for each job. The work must pay at least the going rate of £26,200 per year, or £10.75 per hour.
Most students switching will be considered ‘new entrants’ for the Skilled Worker visa. This lowers the minimum wage and allows trading of qualifying points.
International applicants must demonstrate their ability to speak, read, write, and understand English, which they should have already done through their UK qualification or student application.
The Skilled Worker visa has a financial criterion, although applicants in the UK who have been here for at least 12 months are exempt.
If the applicant meets this exemption, they must provide a bank statement ending one month before the application date showing they have held at least £1270 for 28 days, or if you are an A-rated sponsor, you can state on the CoS that you will maintain and accommodate the applicant up to £1,270 in the first month of employment in the UK.
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