Are you an international student studying at a UK vet school? Thinking about working in the UK after graduation? Your University should have a dedicated team to help answer all your questions and support your job applications. Example: Here
Tier 2 is the main immigration route for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who wish to work in the UK. If you wish to stay in the UK to work after you have finished your studies, there are concessions for full time Tier 4 students, which make it easier to get a Tier 2 visa. There are a number of concessions available to students who are switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 to make it easier to apply:
List of Tier 2 Sponsors can be found here at gov.uk
You can search this list for the word vet to find employers that are already registered this is useful when selecting EMS placements!
Bettina Asothan Blog post: Applying jobs as an international vet student in the UK
As an international student, going into a farm job in the UK can be very intimidating and daunting. As most of our fellow international classmates naturally gear up towards entering the small animal industry, it can seem that we are quite alone in the farm job hunt. But do remember that you are never alone as there are more of us out here then you think there are, and we at the BVEDS will always be happy to guide you along your journey to entering your first job! Here is my step by step guide to moving on from vet school to the new graduate life.
1) EMS is a gold mine
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of tailoring your EMS to help you decide where you’d take your veterinary career in the future. Organising specific EMS placements in your early years of vet school can be tricky, but it is vital that you stay ahead of the game. Do not be afraid to ask your seniors at vet school about placements they would recommend.
Consider asking these questions –Are they a supportive practice that is happy to train and guide a new grad? Take note of how diverse the practice is, as that usually implies how forward thinking the practice is. And of course – speak to the clients.
Your vet school’s specialist societies are a huge wealth of information as they usually have links to various vets and practices. Attending national symposiums is a good way to meet other vet students with similar interests and make friends. Consider joining official organisations like the British Cattle Veterinary Association. Attending these professional organisations annual conferences as a steward will again enable you to make connections. Do not shy away from introducing yourself to people and asking for contact details regarding potential placements or specific advise in their area of expertise.
3) CV writing and cover letter
Ah, the dreaded CV and cover letter writing. Ultimately, the practice would like to see your relevant experience, be it clinical EMS, farm rotations, lab or office based placements. Include a comprehensive list of procedures and/or surgeries you have performed or helped out with. Do add in a short paragraph about your hobbies, as practices are generally interested in getting to know you as a person as well. Ideally references from a vet you got along well with on EMS, and/or a tutor or teaching staff from your vet school. Some practices do tend to contact your referees as part of the interview process, so do give your referees a heads up just in case.
The cover letter is meant to be a quick introduction of yourself and a summary of your experiences and capabilities. I would mention the country you are from in a brief sentence so as to highlight your ability to adapt to new situations and environments. Ideally, you would showcase your best skills and experiences in a few short and succinct paragraphs, followed by your appreciation to the practice for considering your application.
4) Job interview and visa sponsorship
This would be the biggest hurdle for most of us international students. Most of us international applicants that require sponsorship for work visas tend to get overlooked due to the extra cost required to hire us. On the bright side, 2019 has seen a recent increase in the corporatising of mixed and farm veterinary practices all over the UK. This therefore means that more and more practices now have the license and the spending power to hire international applicants. Furthermore, the veterinary profession has been added to the shortage occupation list for the UK, which makes the hiring process for practices even more straightforward.
Do reiterate that you are from a country outside the UK/EU and will require sponsorship for a work visa before you attend the interview as this saves you and the practice time in pursuing it further in the case that they are unable to provide work visas for their employees.
5) Visa process
Most corporate practices would have an in-house advisor or an external agent to handle visa applications, so there is not too much to fret about in terms of applying and sending in the application. Do be aware that the visa process can take up to 2 months to be processed (unless expedited to 10 days, which would cost an additional £100) and you will not be allowed to leave the UK during the application and decision making process (time of writing 2020).
5) Moving and adjusting to rural life
Now the time has come, you are about to start your new life as a fresh graduate! Do some research on the area – are there any local sports, societies or events you could see yourself participating in? That would be very helpful to you for making new friends in a new town, especially if you will be living by yourself. Hanging out with colleagues after work or on weekends is great for building rapport and learning more about the insides of the job. Keep in touch with your friends from university as you will definitely need some close friends to vent to about the employed life!
Be aware that there is always a very small but unfortunate chance that you might be treated differently by clients based on your skin colour or nationality. Be ready to discuss this with your practice manager/director as you should not have to tolerate this behaviour. The BVEDS is always here for advise and help if you do get into this situation and are unsure on how to go about dealing with it.