Experiencing the UK Graduate route: Hong Kong, MSc

Date:Jun 2023
Topic(s): Graduate route, Recruitment, Student employability, Transition
Type(s): AGCAS Case study

The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), a member of UKCISA’s International Student Employability Group (ISEG), has captured the experiences of international graduates seeking employment in the UK after graduation in a series of case studies.

Who are you?



Nationality / country of origin

Hong Kong

Current visa

Graduate route

Are your expectations of your Graduate route visa being met?

Strongly Agree

University, level of study and programme of study

University in north-east England

Higher degree, mainly by taught course (eg. MA, MSc, MBA)

Media, journalism and communications

How many roles have you applied for since leaving university?

Over 50

Current activity

Employed – full time (permanent contract)

Where do you work?

Job title

Business Outreach Representative

Employer / organisation

Business development organisation

Region of your contracted place of work

North-east England

Briefly describe your role and your main responsibilities

Business development

Time between the end of your course and start date for your current role

3-6 months

How did you find your current job?

Through general recruitment website (eg. Indeed, Totaljobs)

Thoughts on your visa 

“I received my visa confirmation within two weeks.”

To be fair, I am eligible for the visa and paid (almost £2,000 together with the immigration health surcharge (IHS) fee), so the application obviously went successfully. My employer also noted my visa status and offered me a permanent role. However, by the time the visa expires, they may or may not provide a Skilled Worker visa for me. 

I experienced a technical problem with my biometric residence permit (BRP) using an iPhone.

The cost is almost £2,000, including the visa fee and two years of the IHS. That’s quite a lot for fresh graduates. Though officially it can take up to eight weeks to process, I received my visa confirmation within two weeks.

Support and development 

At university, I had a one-to-one appointment with a careers adviser. After leaving university, I worked as a part-time customer adviser in a chemist. This experience was useful in helping me understand the local working culture and communicate with both colleagues and customers. My employer liked and appreciated this experience and therefore I think it was helpful in job hunting.

Employer knowledge and attitudes  

“Quite a few employers refused to offer an interview opportunity because we are not able to stay in the country permanently. This is really frustrating.”

Honestly, employers have no idea about the details. It is our job to tell them it’s a guarantee we have two extra years of living and working in the UK.

Even HR is not familiar with the Skilled Worker visa and thought the company could offer it (without knowing the company has to register to the government/there are salary requirements).

Quite a few employers refused to offer an interview opportunity because we are not able to stay in the country permanently. This is really frustrating

What advice would you give to current international students seeking graduate employment in the UK?  

Get yourself familiar with visa details, most of the employers (even HR) are not aware of the details.