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Employing international students

Employing international students

Employing international students is much easier than you might think. We can help if you are looking to employ a talented international student for a short-term project, internship or longer graduate level vacancy.

Our talented students can provide:

  • specific language skills
  • knowledge of overseas market(s)
  • beneficial networks
  • inter-cultural awareness 

You can employ EEA and Swiss students in the same way as UK nationals and there are currently no specific requirements you have to meet. If you are looking to employ non-EU students, please see below for more details.

Working during studies, vacation and for 4 months after completion of programme – no need to sponsor students Visa

The majority of non-EU students who are in UK on a Tier 4 visa are automatically permitted to work part time during their studies. The amount of work will be limited up to a maximum of 20 hours per week while studying.

This will however change during vacation time when students can work full time.

  • The vacation period is usually from July until October for undergraduate students.
  • Taught postgraduate (Masters) students are required to study during this time and may only be able to work part time.
  • Postgraduate research students do not have term/vacation times as such, but they are allowed to work full time for 5 vacation weeks a year and once they have completed their studies.

Students are also allowed to work full time for up to 4 months after completion of their studies. For example when students complete their course in September, they may be able to stay in UK and work up until January.

Students can work in a range of roles with a few exceptions (entertainer, professional sports coach/person, doctor or dentist in training unless they are on a foundation programme and others).

It is always useful to ask the student, before offering them an employment contract, to bring their passport and Biometric Residence Permit to check what their work restrictions (if any) are.

Once again, the above examples will not require you to sponsor students’ Visa. 

Working after completion of programme for longer than 4 months – range of options including Tier 2 sponsorship

There are a range of immigration schemes where UK employers can employ international students after they have completed their studies.

Tier 2 employment

This is the most common route for skilled employment and is primarily aimed at those who are applying in the UK to ‘switch’ from Tier 4 (General) to Tier 2 (General).

You will need to offer a minimum wage level of £20,800 for anyone are under the age of 26 or £30,000 for anyone aged 26 or over, but this can vary depending on the role.

The website provides a useful guidance for employers interested to sponsor students including the new entrant minimum rates. You can also browse through a list of over 30,000 employers who have successfully applied for the sponsorship certificate.

Tier 5 temporary worker

These schemes allow students to undertake specific types of work in the UK for a period of one or two years, depending on the scheme.

They must have a Tier 5 sponsor under the relevant scheme which must issue a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to students before they can make immigration application.

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme

This scheme is designed to give students who have almost finished their PhD or other doctorate qualification an additional 12 months of immigration permission in which to look for and start work in the UK.

New rules from 20/21 - introduction of post study work visas

In a major boost for international students, the UK government has announced a new two-year post-study work visa, expanding opportunities for talented international students to build successful careers in the UK.

The new ‘Graduate’ route will be open to all international students  who have valid UK immigration status as a student and have successfully completed a course of study in any subject at undergraduate level or above at an approved UK Higher Education Provider. The visa will allow eligible students to work, or look for work, in any career or position of their choice, for two years after completing their studies.

Often referred to as a ‘Post-Study Work visa’, the new Graduate route will launch for the 2020/21 intake of students to university. This will mean that employers wouldn't have to sponsor the students for up to 2 years. 

More information and additional resources

Please contact the University of Leeds Employer Engagement Team if you are interested employing our international students or have any other questions.


Telephone: 0113 343 5290