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May 7, 2006 4:00 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way for an American to get a job and work permit in Britain?

I just spent 6 months in Britain on the BUNAC temporary work permit scheme, which is non-renewable. I want to move back to stay for at least a couple more years, maybe longer. What are some tips or suggestions for getting the kind of job that would qualify me for a work permit from the British government?

I'm a recent college graduate with a BA in English Lit, Religious Studies, and Creative Writing, so I'm a triple-threat of unmarketability.

I just want to be able to support myself in Britain and write in my off-hours, so I'm open to any options you throw at me!

(This is my first post ever; I hope I've handled it correctly.)
posted by scarylarry to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Guess you could start here. (Googled this. )
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:56 PM on May 7, 2006

What do you want to do? Anything that will pay the bills? Or would you like to get paid for writing? Freelancing might not even require a work permit...
posted by jaysus chris at 4:58 PM on May 7, 2006

Response by poster: Honestly, I'm up for anything I can do with my clothes on. I write fiction, and I'd prefer not to have to write heavily for a dayjob, too, for fear of burning out. But even that's not hard and fast. I really just want a way to stay in the country and pay the bills.
posted by scarylarry at 5:02 PM on May 7, 2006

It is pretty hard to get a UK work permit as an American unless you are skilled in something like nursing or teaching. When I lived there I knew a lot of Americans illegally working in bars and that sort of thing. Some suggestions:

1. Your best bet might be to apply to grad school. It's not too late for next fall and if you go for a PhD you get a stipend.
2. There are various short term programs: the au pair (nanny) program, ESL teachers, working holidaymakers program, a seasonal agricultural woker visa scheme and a sectors based scheme for low paid manufacturing work. Try here and here for more info.
3. If you are related to anyone in the EU or Commonwealth or your parents or grandparents are from those countries you might be able to work something out that way.
posted by fshgrl at 5:32 PM on May 7, 2006

Where did you work when you did BUNAC? I did BUNAC and had the company I worked for put in an application for a "real" working visa for afterwards. There were a lot of hurdles but we got there in the end. I think companies are a lot more likely to go through this process if they already know you as a worker. A lot of the ones that don't know you won't even look at your CV unless you've got a visa. Maybe start with your previous employer and see if they're willing to help you come back?
posted by web-goddess at 6:25 PM on May 7, 2006

The Highly Skilled Migrant programme may be useful to explore. You don't need a job offer before you arrive, and there are separate sections for people under 28 (which I assume you are). More info (including the helpful Immigration and Nationality Directorate phone line) in a previous answer I gave here.
posted by greycap at 11:22 PM on May 7, 2006

I'm American, live in London, work in banking but teach finance part time at a University here. There are several other Americans at the University, some studying and a few more that initially studied then later took a job as a lecturer.

You might want to try the study route, see how you get on and try for a teaching post later if you like it.
posted by Mutant at 11:22 PM on May 7, 2006

I'm an American living in London.

Student visa is the easiest thing. Come in on an MA, do an internship, and try to get hired by that internship when you're done.

PS, you can get US financial aid to come to school here.

It is only 10,000 for an MA, it is one year, but it is INTENSE. Living in London is very expensive. Hurry and apply because it is getting down to the wire.

Or get a job in finance.
posted by k8t at 12:02 AM on May 8, 2006

Best answer: On, and on a student visa you can work 20 hours a week legally.

It is not tough to find a part time job, especially as a native English speaker.

Most of my classmates have tried to get jobs on campus and they pay pretty well 8-15 pounds/hour.

But then you can get a bartending job on the side.

As long as your 2 employers don't know that you're working 20 hours at the other place, you're probably going to be fine.

Although I wouldn't suggest working 40 hours a week while in school here.

I work 10 at my school's computer help desk and teach for Kaplan a few hours outside of that. Then I do an internship 1 day a week. That plus 6 hours of class PLUS trying to do the reading makes me a VERY VERY BUSY person.

More realistically, I'd suggest working 10 hours a week, doing an internship 1 day a week, and then doing classwork. AND working harder on the classwork than I did.

It is exam time now and I am hurtin' compared to my classmates because I wasn't caught up on the reading.

If you end up applying, e-mail me (in profile) and I can give you some other ideas.
posted by k8t at 12:07 AM on May 8, 2006

Also check out the info at Scotland Is the Place. After a year of study, you can stay two extra years on the Fresh Talent Initiative, and then it's rather easy to switch to another visa class. Scotland needs young workers, so they're streamlining the immigration process. (I'm here via a tangentially related program. It's all very simple, and there is a lot of grant/ scholarship money available.)
posted by milquetoast at 1:18 AM on May 8, 2006

The work and visas and citizenship section in this helpful forum might be of assistance.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:40 AM on May 8, 2006

Response by poster: PS, you can get US financial aid to come to school here.
posted by k8t at 12:02 AM PST

k8t, I've done a lot of snooping around regarding postgraduate programmes, and I've never seen this possibility mentioned. Can you point me toward an agency or website?

web-goddess: During my BUNAC stay, I just wanted crap work so that my brain was not too demolished when I wrote in the evenings. I worked at Borders. I doubted that they'd be able to support me getting a proper work visa, but I asked them anyway: they laughed.

To everyone who suggested going back to school--I am waiting to hear back from the writing programme at Oxford, but it's only part time, so it doesn't qualify me for a student visa. I suppose that I could look into other programmes; Oxford's was the most appealing to me, is all.

Thanks everyone for your help!
posted by scarylarry at 7:54 AM on May 8, 2006

Best answer: Hi Larry,

All you gotta do is look at your potential school's website or e-mail the registrar for information. My school (SOAS) was very cool about it.

Then I go to the FASFA page and pick "Foreign Country" as my school location and then it is all right there in the drop downs. Normally with FAFSA you can count on the paperwork going through online... but with foreign schools you need to likely print out your FAFSA information and send it to them in the mail.

Then your FAFSA stuff checks out, the school notifies the FAFSA people that you're really a student and your check gets mailed - no problem.

I found that Bank of America was the only private loan company that I could go to for money beyond my Stafford loan. (Stafford covered tution, that's it.) LendingTree.com does it too apparently.

The big London universities are full of Americans and know what they are doing with financial aid stuff.

A lot of Americans have said that their checks come a bit late though.

Go beyond Oxford and look into any of the Uni. of London schools - I love SOAS. I have friends at UCL, Kings College, Queen Mary and LSE. All are very happy.

Apply soon though - it gets more competitive as the summer goes on.

Let me know if you need any help.
posted by k8t at 2:23 PM on May 8, 2006

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