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What to do if a UK company you’re interested in doesn’t sponsor visas

For students starting undergraduate degree courses (or higher-level courses) at approved universities from September 2020 there will be a two year post-study work visa option. For those who have started their courses before this point, while looking for a permanent job in the UK after your studies you may see a job vacancy that really interests you, but unfortunately the company currently don’t sponsor visas. The following steps can help with this:

Start with you!

  • Clarify on a scale of 1-10, how much do you want to work at this company and why. This will help with:
  1. deciding if you really want to invest the time pursuing this option
  2. identifying what interests you in a job, so you’re more aware of other suitable options
  3. speaking to the employer, which will be covered further down
  • Check if the role is eligible for sponsorship. The government’s Immigration Rules manual can help if you are unsure. If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student, please refer to RGF level 6 or above, and if you are a PhD student refer to the appropriate table.
  • Do all you can to ensure you are the outstanding candidate for the job, so that the company would be interested in hiring you. Our posts How to use your internationalisation to stand out to UK employers and The Experts’ advice on finding a job in the UK can help with this. As part of this, we recommend that prior to applying you speak to the employer to ask them a few questions about the job, including finding out more about the main challenges they face as well as current and future projects. Once you have this information, you can think about how your skills, attributes and experience can help them overcome their specific challenges and complete projects. You can arrange an appointment with your careers service for help with this.

The company –

  • A company is more likely to be willing to sponsor you if you are the outstanding candidate and can bring value to their organisation that other candidates can’t.
  • Prior to applying, speak to the HR or recruiting manager to discuss if they would consider sponsoring a via. In the conversation you should include –
    1. Why you are interested in working for them
    2. Based on your research in the previous section, highlight 3-4 key reasons you’d be an exceptional candidate, i.e. why it’s in their interests to consider hiring you and becoming a visa sponsor
    3. As appropriate, share the link to the government’s information about becoming a sponsor
  • If appropriate, you can offer to complete some temporary work for 3-4 months after your studies finish and before your visa expires. This may give you more opportunity to convince the employer to take you on longer-term once they can see how you contribute to the business.

Christian Jameson-Warren,  formally of Loughborough University

Updated by Su Kulk