*Please note this article refers to UK employment law and UK-based employers only.
There’s no doubt a multicultural and international team of employees can add a lot of value to your company: A multitude of different experiences, viewpoints and languages within a team has been shown to boost creativity in the workplace and offer various approaches and perspectives on all kinds of business problems a firm may be facing. Not to even mention the fact our world, and our education system along with it, has become one large melting pot: international students made up around 18% of those in higher education in the UK in 2013-2014, reported the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa). So why wouldn’t your staff be reflective of that?
When it comes to attracting international talent, there is another aspect to consider. With the competition on the UK marketplace as tough and fierce as it has gotten in the last decade, as an UK employer, you are definitely getting the better end of the deal. (An outstanding one, actually.) Add to the equation an enormous pool of highly competent and talented young people all over the world studying in the UK and wanting to stay here, and you’ll soon realise you’re in employer heaven.
Well, at least before you get down to – bureaucracy.
The picture in rough
Strictly speaking, it’s much easier to hire a UK or EU student or graduate (the only exception to the latter category are Croatian nationals, who are subject to certain restrictions and might need to register for a purple certificate). On the other hand, if you’re looking to hire international students or graduates, stay patient: There may be a little more to it than what at first you thought it would be. Things have changed a lot over the course of years. The post-study work visa, which allowed international students to stay in the UK for work up to two years after graduation, became a thing of the past in 2012. Right now, graduates are able to stay up to four months after the completion of their course – which puts a lot of stress on prospective job seekers in the ever so competitive job hunt.
Rules for hiring an international student
International students on a Tier 4 visa studying at degree level and above are permitted to work up to 20 hours a week. Naturally, this excludes all permanent, full-time positions.
On this visa, students are allowed to work:
- 20 hours per week during term time if they are studying at degree level and above; OR
- 10 hours per week during term time if they studying below degree level
- Full time during vacation periods and after they have finished studies (until their visa expires)
- On an integral and assessed work placement as part of their studies
- As a sabbatical officer in a Students’ Union for up to two years
Make sure you have collected personal details of the student, their bank account and National Insurance Number – and you’re all good to go!
The brass tacks of the hiring process for graduates
If you want a non-UK or non-EU graduate to work for you, you should have a Tier 2 visa sponsor licence (skilled workers with long-term job offers) or a Tier 5 visa sponsor licence (skilled temporary workers). Each of these allows you to sponsor foreign workers or recent graduates to come and work or study in the UK. In order to get one, you can apply here.
There are also conditions you have to fulfill for the job in question: a particular skillset has to be involved, and the minimum salary offered has to equal £20,500 per year (or be in accordance with the relevant code of practice).
In addition, the recruitment process may need to include a resident labour market test (RLMT) to show there is no one in the UK or the rest of EEA who can do the job. In case the applicant is switching into Tier 2 from Tier 4 (Student) within the UK, or if the need for the occupation exceeds the demand (refer to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List), the applicant might be able to dodge the RLMT.
Not the simplest of procedures, granted – but if you’ve found the right candidate and addition to your superteam – one that will also be well worth it.