That’s the one word that springs to mind when I think about making the transition from being an American student studying in the UK to an American graduate working in the UK.
When I started studying at Cambridge three years ago on the Davies-Jackson scholarship, I hadn’t planned on staying in England. I figured it would be my two-year foray into the land of tea, crumpets, wellies and rain.
if you’re the kind of person willing to brave the streets of London, you probably don’t mind a bit of a challenge.
Then things changed. I made a close group of friends — the type that I wanted to be a part of my life forever. I also realized I would regret not living in amazing London when I had the chance.
So I decided to make the shift from American UK student to American UK employee.
It’s important to stress that I’m not an immigration official, a visa lawyer or anything of the sort. I’m just an American who has decided she loves England so much she needs to stay for a while longer. Perhaps some of my observations might help you make the same transition.
I graduated in 2011. At the time, there was something called a post-study work visa. It lasted for two years and didn’t require any specific job. You could change roles as you pleased.
When I was looking for jobs, there was a lot of confusion among employers about the rules and regulations surrounding hiring a foreigner. Companies were unsure and hesitant. In at least one instance, my visa status meant my application was immediately discounted.
I was lucky that I was able to explain to employers that my visa, the post-study work visa, was entirely independent of them. They didn’t need to do anything.
The post-study work visa no longer exists, however. Since April 2012, most non-European graduates looking to work in the UK after graduation need to find a company to sponsor their Tier 2 visa and a job paying upwards of £20,000.
This change was driven in part by a government effort to reduce net migration. There are other types of visas (entrepreneur, exceptional talent, etc), but the bulk of graduates will be aiming for a Tier 2.
Larger companies have the infrastructure and the know-how to sponsor foreign graduates. Smaller companies? Not so much.
And when it comes to freelancers or the arts, the situation is much more complicated. I just know that one of my friends, an actress from the US, is going home soon because she’s hasn’t found a theater to sponsor her.
Then there’s the visa process itself.
For all of us non-lawyers out there, official documents can be a bit terrifying. Learning the ins-and-outs of the visa application while finishing exams and hunting for a job wasn’t the most enjoyable way to graduate. While I understand that the immigration system must be regulated and regimented for numerous reasons, I wouldn’t call the process fun.
Yet with all that having been said, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I found a job I love and everyday I’m thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to remain in the UK. England is amazing. London is surreal. The professional environment is teeming with development, growth and change. It’s an exceptional place to live and work.
So I say go for it. If you’re hoping to study then work in the UK, give it a shot. You’ll definitely need to be aware of the immigration issues, as things can change quickly.
The process probably won’t be simple. But if you’re the kind of person willing to brave the green, green pastures of the UK, you probably don’t mind a bit of a challenge.
Powered by Facebook Comments