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MBA Jobs: A Guide To International Work Visas In The UK

Fear not, international MBA students. We guide you through the UK visa application process with Naeema Pasha, Head of Careers at Henley Business School.

Fri Feb 28 2014

International MBA students hoping to work in the UK may have a tough time. Recent visa changes mean those from outside the European Economic Area are no longer granted a relatively easily obtained two-year period of residency in the region.

Some business schools have cited difficulty in finding their students jobs. But top MBA employers are adapting their hiring strategy – and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

BusinessBecause and Naeema Pasha, Head of Careers at Henley Business School, explain what visas international MBAs can get, and what you can do to ensure your career journey remains a smooth ride.

What visas can MBA students get in the UK?

Tier 2 visa: Open to recent graduates with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD, PGCE or PGDE from a UK recognised or listed body. You can apply for a Tier 2 visa before leaving the UK if you have an offer of a skilled job from an employer that is a UKBA licensed sponsor. However, only around 27,000 companies in the UK currently have this license.

The job must meet minimum salary criteria – this depends on the profession you wish to work in, but most MBAs will be earning much more than the minimum threshold.

There is no limit to the number of graduates whom can obtain a Tier 2 visa. You can stay in the UK for three years, with the possibility to extend.

Tier 5 temporary worker visa: You must leave the UK and apply from overseas for this category, unless you are undertaking postgraduate training, or work experience relevant to your qualification, in which case you can switch into the Tier 5 government authorised exchange scheme and apply from inside the UK.

To apply for most Tier 5 categories, you must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor and pass a points-based assessment. Tier 5 work experience programs and internship schemes are limited to 12 months, but other schemes covering research, fellowships and training in the fields of science and medicine are two years long.

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa: This route is for graduates who do not have a job offer from an employer, but instead have an outstanding business idea that they wish to put into practice in the UK.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) will have a central role in identifying graduates who have developed genuine and credible business ideas or entrepreneurial skills, and in endorsing and supporting them.

Only some institutions are able to endorse graduates wishing to apply under this route, and not all bodies will issue both General and MBA endorsements.

Naeema Pasha answers questions about international MBAs' rights to work in the UK.

Do you think it is more difficult for international students outside the EU to secure work in the UK?

Yes and no. It’s difficult to obtain a visa of course, but not to actually work. Companies value the diversity and skill-sets that international students bring. Globalisation means that employers are far more clued-up to recruiting candidates that demonstrate a global mind-set.

How does the career services department at Henley help international MBA students secure work in UK-based companies?

We know it’s a very tough job climate for international students, despite us seeing a growth in the labour market. The key issue is to obtain sponsorship from a suitable organisation. My advice to students is to recognize and identify their own skills and strengths. They need to identify what niche areas they could work in, then whether an organisation would go out of their way to sponsor them.

They then need to 'get out there': meet potential employers who may be able to offer career opportunities.

What does Henley do for its international MBAs?

What we do in Henley is twofold; first we work with students to help them identify key skills, and we work on developing their strengths, profile and understand of their leadership competencies.

We also help them get an idea of the developments in the labour market – for example a rise in the tech sector against the more traditional hunting ground for MBAs in finance – which is still rocky in terms of recruitment.

The second thing is to put them in touch with organisations to network with, to explore potential career ties. We have launched two new exciting partnerships; The Henley Affiliates programme for FTMBAs to be members of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Henley Associates programme with the Berkshire Institute of Directors.

Read our feature on International MBAs working in the UK.

Information obtained from the UK Border Agency. Visit this website for more information: