UK Immigration News: International Students May Now Switch to Work Permit Whilst Studying
Updated: Jan 25
10 years ago the UK was listed as one of the top destination countries for students. However, its popularity quickly fell short. The student visa route proved to be a difficult path for those who wish to work and stay permanently. Finding a sponsor was challenging and the policies for international students weren’t very welcoming.
But because of COVID’s impact on the education sector, countries are now racing to attract international talent. Various immigration policies were relaxed, giving favor to foreign learners.
So, what exactly has changed?
Students with a valid job offer may now change their student permit to a skilled worker visa.
International students in the UK are allowed to work part-time for 20 hrs per week. Although a student’s main goal is to finish the program and earn more credentials, the allowable working hours predispose them to possible full-time employment, especially for those who possess in-demand skills.
If you happen to find a sponsor while completing your studies, there will be no trouble switching to a work permit now that the policy has changed. Even if students have not completed their degrees yet, they are now free to secure a work permit as long as they qualify to apply for a Skilled Worker visa.
How to Qualify for a UK Skilled Worker Visa
Work for a Home Office-approved employer.
The Home Office keeps a list of employers who are qualified to sponsor a worker through a Skilled Worker or temporary work visa. There are 32,000 organizations as of the moment willing to sponsor foreign talents. The ones in dire need are those in the essential service sectors (e.g. healthcare) that have been hit badly since Brexit.
Secure a certificate of sponsorship from your employer detailing your job role.
Part of the responsibility of the prospective employer is to secure a certificate of sponsorship (COS). COS is a numbered electronic document given to every foreign worker. The applicant will use this during visa application within 3 months from the given start date.
Your job must belong to the list of eligible occupations.
Like many other countries, not all jobs in the UK are qualified to apply for a skilled worker visa. There are certain job roles deemed important in the UK and they are identified through the eligible occupations listed on this site.
Your hourly rate must meet the minimum salary required.
To apply for a tier-2 or skilled worker visa, you must be paid a minimum of £25,600 per year of £10.10 per hour.
Show proof of knowledge of the English language.
Prove that you can read, write, speak and comprehend English by taking a Secure English Language Test (SELT). You need to earn at least a level B1 to be eligible.
How Much Does It Cost to Apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa?
Prepare around £625 - £1,423 for the application fee. and £624 for the healthcare surcharge. The latter needs to be paid every year.
The payables are a bit on the expensive side, however, if your job is part of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), expect to settle a cheaper application fee. And since a student is normally in the UK when receiving a job offer, you can further bring down the standard fee especially if you’re only staying in the UK for 3 years.
Proof of funds
If you have stayed in the UK for more than a year, you do not need to show proof of funds. Otherwise, you need to show that you have at least £1,270 for 28 days in your bank account.
The Pros and Cons of Student-to-Skilled Worker Visa Route
Fast pathway to full-time employment
Cheaper in the long run since there is no need to pay tuition fees in full
A 100% legitimate immigration pathway
Students may be required to pay part of the tuition fees in advance
Expensive compared to the direct skilled worker visa route