The 6 Steps to getting a work visa in the UK

Learn in this step by step guide how to get a top job in the UK

The 6 steps to getting a work visa in the UK as an International Student

As an international student, your number 1 goal in life will be to better your chances of professional success and progression. Get the training and skills you need to have more job opportunities and make more money.

For many of you studying here in the UK, if you want to stay and work here you will have tried many times to apply for jobs and possibly been rejected on the grounds that do not have the right to work in the UK.

But, as a student on Tier 4 Visa at a University (not a private college) you have a great opportunity to be able to apply and successfully get a work permit here in the UK, before your Visa ends.

If you want help finding a job in the UK then you can drop in to see us a free consultation face to face in our London office or on the phone by contacting us here  

So we have broken down the steps you will need to take from start to finish to get a work visa in the UK at a top company.

The first 6 Steps are ones we have used to help over 1,000 students get into Times Top 100 Graduate roles over the past 8 years, register below to learn about our platform to connect you to job success.


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Step 1: Job Positioning and Preparation

This is the biggest step where most students will fall down, over the past 8 years we have spoken to over 50,000 students and they will position themselves for jobs that are not suitable for them. These are just a few common problems:

  • Students only choose and apply for roles which are directed related to their course of study, which may not be in great supply or do not provide a working visa (for example Media, Marketing, HR and PR)
  • Students don't know which companies will provide a work visa and which don't
  • Students don't know enough about the job roles and the companies they are applying to, as they fail to prepare properly, by making a plan for their applications
  • Students struggle to self-assess and to clearly understand what are their best skills and competencies and how these make them suited for the roles they are applying to

Any of these sound familiar?

If you have struggled with any of these questions or don't know how to answer them, you can book a free 1-1 consultation with one of our experienced career consultants here

Make sure ou have a plan. Research the roles effectively and identify what are the best roles for you. Don't just limit your applications to your academic qualifications, as many employers will train you and in fact some of the UK's Biggest Tier 2 Sponsors don't actually mind what you studied. You can read more about them here


Step 2: CV, Application Forms and Cover Letters

So you have chosen which companies and jobs are right for you, and need you sit with fingers poised over your keyboard ready to click boxes, drop down menus and write answers to competency questions. Many companies will not let you apply again for 6 months to 1 year if you fail. So you have to make sure everything is right.

Common mistakes include:

  • CVs not being appropriate to the industry or the role. They contain too much information, may have pictures or formats that you think are pretty but employers find annoying. A recruiter can look for over 100 CVs for just one role and some companies use automated software to scan documents for specific keywords
  • Students don't clearly identify what their key skills are and how they match with what the role is looking for
  • Applications are sent too late. As soon as a vacancy open you need to apply ASAP. Don't wait until a few days or weeks before the deadline and then be surprised if your application is rejected automatically.
  • Non-native English speakers really struggle with competency questions, give generic or very simple answers or end up spending hours trying to craft the perfect answer.
  • Cover Letters are either not attached, or students will just use one template and replace the name of the company which results in most of them being rejected for being too basic

If you are struggling to write the perfect CV, or are tired spending so much time on your cover letters, register for our platform today and find out how we can help you craft those perfect applications so you can sail through to your 1st round interview.


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Sherry a CIUK Client talks how the 6 Steps gave her the confidence to succeed


Step 3: Online Tests

Online tests. You love them or you hate them. Regardless of your intelligence and academic background, we have found students really struggle with these tests.

You only have 1 chance to do the tests and generally, all at the same time, these scores will often be used in conjunction with your application form to make a decision about whether to proceed your application through to 1st round interview.

Some of the biggest problems we have found here:

  • Most students will fail online tests, simply because they failed to practice
  • Non-English speakers will mainly struggle with Verbal and Situational Judgement Tests
  • The biggest problem is that though the tests themselves are not difficult, students will struggle with the time allowed. For example, for Logical tests, you only get 30 seconds for each question

So the key to success? 

Practice, practice, practice. At CIUK our clients can access a wide range of tests and can also even book consultations with a member of our coaching team for those difficult questions that you just cannot figure out. We know it can be difficult to get something right when no one has told you what you got wrong in the first place.


Step 4: First Round Interview

Finally after hours and hours of researching jobs online, writing application forms, crafting the perfect CV and Cover Letter and a raft of online tests you receive that email that says you have reached 1st round interview stage. Congratulations!

If you have never done a formal interview before then never fear. You are in the majority. Most students we speak have never done a formal interview.

So as you begin to prepare, try to avoid the following pitfalls:

  • Writing pages and pages of answers to all the questions you can find on the internet. Though you may have done your research, the chances are you will be asked less than 20 questions, so you need to concentrate on preparing the most likely questions you will be asked
  • Practise by speaking with someone else, rather than repeating answers on your own in your room
  • NEVER use a script in an interview. The interviewer will know and you will sound monotone and boring
  • Think about what the employer wants from you rather than what you think is good about yourself

Our clients go through extensive and exhaustive practice with mentors who work in the industry that they are applying to. Also, they can read and prepare from custom made documents and questions which are tailored around the roles they are applying to. Premier clients can even access our unique Memory Pool, a giant library of thousands of past questions from recent clients who may have interviewed with the same company as you the day before. To find out how you can prepare to crush your first round interview register for our Platform today and check out our custom-made programmes.


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Meng's preparation with CIUK gave her the confidence to crush her first round interview


Step 5: Assessment Centre

For most students, this is the day that they really dread. Being crammed in an office with strangers and going through a series of exercises to see who will progress through that coveted final interview.

Very few international students will ever have been to an assessment centre, and the number 1 concern they almost all have is how they will be able to compete with fast speaking native English speakers.

The biggest obstacles they will face is:

  • A lack of practice, most students will have never even done a written exercise or group discussion which are the two most common types of exercises you can expect to come up against at an assessment centre
  • If English is not your first language, then you need to be highly fluent. Your written, listening and speaking skills will be put to the test as the chances are as international students the rest of your competitors will be native English speakers
  • Students really struggle to manage their time effectively in a pressurised situation, also how to manage their nerves and confidence levels

We know how difficult assessment centres are. Which is why over the past 8 years we have put together a comprehensive curriculum of training spanning 6 months, which goes from Introductory all the way through to Mock Assessment Centre sessions. We identify the skills our clients lack through our soft skills and self-assessment sessions and also help to refine client's levels of fluency through a broad range of exercises.

Fancy some Assessment centre practice, or just want to check out our training centre in London? Then book a free 1-1 consultation with us here at our brand new London office in Bloomsbury Way London, WC1 here.


Step 6: Final Interview 

You made it! Those tens or even hundreds of hours have brought you to the one person who will decide whether you will stay and work in the UK or not. Final interviews are your chance to shine and get some time with a senior manager to show what you are all about. Even though statistically you have a 50% chance of success we found a disproportionately high number of international students will fail at this stage for a few easily avoidable reasons:

  • A basic lack of face to face practice with someone
  • Anxiety and a lack of confidence in their English
  • Not understanding the format of the interview or the purpose of being there
  • A lack of experience of speaking to people in senior management

At CIUK, we know how important passing this stage can be. Also how crushing failure can feel. We prepare all our candidates with face to face coaching with senior mentors and make sure students know the format they need to follow and weaknesses they have to give them the best chance to shine on the day.

Have a final interview coming up? Or do you think this is something you could neve reach? 

We know from over 1,000 client success stories that if they can do it then so can you, so join our platform today and find out how one of our career coaching programmes could change your life and get that job you always wanted.


Register Now To Begin Your Journey


Watch Lauren talk about how she used these 6 Steps to get 2 top UK graduate job offers