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Durham University

Careers & Enterprise Centre

International Students

Please be aware that our staff are unable to give detailed information or advice on Visa issues. If you have queries relating to Visa's or any aspect of immigration, please speak to the Student Immigration Office

Working in the UK after your studies

Many international students want to work in the UK after completing their studies. Employers need a diverse and multi-talented workforce for their businesses to succeed and operate at a global level. It can be extremely competitive to secure a post but Durham international graduates are often successful. A common reason cited by employers for rejecting international applicants is English language skills. It is therefore essential that you speak as much English as possible while you are at Durham. Getting involved in clubs and societies and interacting with native English speakers is a good strategy. The conversational English skills you develop will help you to succeed in assessment centres and interviews. The Careers Centre and the Durham Centre for Academic Development also deliver the Durham International Student Employability Programme (DISEP). These joint sessions cover the key parts of the job selection process.

While applying for work or further study you may need to provide information about the equivalency of your qualifications, whether you are applying in the UK or overseas. Our page on qualification equivalencies can help you to research how to do this.

Many UK employers recruit through the Tier 2 employer sponsored scheme. If you are on a Tier 4 student visa, these employers can consider you alongside UK and EU applicants. If you are applying from outside the UK, you can still be considered but only if employers cannot find a suitable UK or EU applicant with the special skills and knowledge required. Employers need to be registered sponsors under the Tier 2 UK Scheme to recruit international applicants. There are currently over 30,000 employers registered to do this in the UK and you can find details of them here. Some are globally recognised businesses such as the Big 4 accountancy firms whereas others employ few staff but have specific requirements in terms of skills, knowledge and language ability. Many of the employers who visit Durham to deliver talks and workshops (refer to the events page for more details) are Tier 2 sponsors so check who is visiting and make sure you attend. More information on Visa rules and regulations is available on the Student Immigration Office website.

For citizens from countries within the European Union the rules are changing following the UK's exit from the EU. Full details of the impact of the changes and the resulting actions required can be found on the relevant UK government webpage.

The UK government Home Office is introducing the Graduate Route visa which will allow graduating international students, from summer 2021 onwards, to stay and work in the UK for 24 months in any skill level job. It may be possible for those who secure graduate level skilled roles to apply for a Tier 2 visa, with a sponsoring employer's support.

You can also access the Job Search for International Students careers help video for further guidance (use your university login credentials to access this).

Additional useful information on working in the UK, can be found online on the Home Office UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) websites.

Returning to work in your home country

In the past, many of Durham's international graduates have pursued successful careers in their home countries. Even if your priority is to work in the UK you may wish to investigate graduate employment in your home country as an additional option.

There are several resources available for you to use which will help you find out about applying for jobs in your home country, and of course, in other countries.

Grad Link features useful resources and vacancy information with highly ranked employers and is aimed at students studying in the UK who want to work overseas after graduation.

If you are returning to China after completing your studies you can use the Lock In China website to find graduate opportunities. These are available in a range of sectors with excellent career progression. You may wish to note the potentialy large differences between the UK application process and that of other countries, including CV format. Please see our working outside of the UK web page for further information.