Thinking of hiring international students and graduates?

Posted on Monday, July 31, 2023 by Admin GradWalesNo comments

International students make excellent employees – they are highly motivated and have a range of desirable skills and knowledge developed via their formal studies and lived experience across varying cultures. We really encourage employers to explore this rich source of employees who have been educated at universities in the UK, and so already understand UK culture.

The cultural, educational and economic benefits international students bring to our UK university campuses and local communities are well recognised and extensive. When international students choose to build their career in the UK, these benefits become available to employers too.

The Graduate route visa offers a flexible employment route, allowing international students to stay in the UK for two years (three for PhD students).  Graduate visa: Overview - GOV.UK (

Here's a summary of the different visa categories and their key requirements.

Long Term Visas:

  • Skilled Worker Visa: This visa allows individuals to work in the UK for an approved employer in an eligible occupation. The worker must have a certificate of sponsorship from the employer and meet minimum salary requirements. The visa can last up to 5 years and may be extended. There is an application fee and healthcare surcharge.
  • Scale-Up Worker Visa: This visa is for individuals working for eligible UK employers classified as fast-growing or "Scale-Up" businesses. The employer must provide a certificate of sponsorship, and the job offer must be valid for at least 6 months. The visa is valid for 2 years, extendable, and allows job changes without informing the Home Office after the initial 6 months. There is an application fee, healthcare surcharge, and a minimum savings requirement.

Short Term Visas:

  • Government Authorised Exchange Visa (Temporary Work): This visa is for individuals coming to the UK for work experience, training, language programs, or research through an approved government exchange scheme. It can also be obtained with a certificate of sponsorship. The duration of stay depends on the scheme, and a minimum savings requirement may apply.
  • High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa: This visa is for recent graduates from eligible universities. It is valid for 2 years or 3 years for PhD holders. The visa cannot be extended, but individuals may be eligible for other visas such as the Skilled Worker visa. The decision process takes 3-8 weeks.
  • Service Supplier Visa: This visa is for individuals providing services to a UK company as an employee of an overseas company or as a self-employed professional. The service must be covered by an international trade agreement, and the individual must have relevant qualifications and experience. The length of stay is determined by the certificate of sponsorship or the trade agreement.
  • Innovator Visa: This visa is for individuals who want to set up and run innovative businesses in the UK. The business idea must be endorsed by an approved body and must be different from existing offerings. The visa allows a stay of up to 3 years, and settlement may be possible.
  • Start-Up Visa: This visa is for individuals setting up a new business in the UK with an innovative idea endorsed by an endorsing body. The visa is valid for up to 2 years and can be switched to an Innovator visa if the criteria are met.
  • Graduate Visa: This visa gives permission to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing a course in the UK. The applicant must be in the UK when they apply. A Graduate visa lasts for 2 years. If they have a PhD or other doctoral qualification, it will last for 3 years. The visa will start from the day the application is approved. If they want to stay longer in the UK they cannot extend the Graduate visa. However, they may be able to switch to a different visa, for example a Skilled Worker visa.
  • Graduate Trainee visa (Global Business Mobility): A Graduate Trainee visa allows individuals to come to or stay in the UK to work for their employer in their UK branch. Their job must be eligible and part of a graduate training programme for a managerial or specialist role.

Right To Work Checks, Sponsors and Sponsorship

All employers are required to conduct right-to-work checks for all job applicants to make sure they are eligible to work in the UK before they employ them.

Sponsors and sponsorship are necessary for employing someone from outside the UK. Sponsors must apply for a sponsor licence and have a management system in place to monitor sponsored employees.


Please note that the information provided is a summary, and it's always recommended to refer to official sources and consult immigration authorities for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Contact UK Visas and Immigration for help - GOV.UK (

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