Library assistant internships and visas
March 9, 2007 3:50 PM   Subscribe

How do I work in the UK for a year? Visa question.

I am thinking of applying for a library assistant internship in the UK through the graduate trainee programme sponsored by their national library association (CILIP). They do accept applications from international applicants, but a number of them have stated that they don't provide working visas.

I'm Canadian, and I don't have any family of British ancestry, so I don't qualify for a British passport. I thought of getting a working visa via the SWAP program (which is the Canadian version of BUNAC, I think), but can you use it for a full-time, 11 month job? Are there other ways I can obtain/qualify for a work permit? Websites where I can find an answer to this?

And does anyone have any experience on foreigners working in the UK? Is it difficult to get work?

More information: if I decide to apply, it means I'll also apply to British library schools the year following the internship, since the program is set up to be sort of a preparatory year to attending library school. An advisor suggested I might be able to obtain some sort of student visa, but I'm not sure how that works, considering I wouldn't have even applied to any university programs when I go over there for the internship.

posted by elisynn to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
UK Working Holiday visa web page Check out the rest of the site for other details, it's a good start and will save me typing out the answers to a fair few of your questions.

You've probably already realised that a passport from any EU country would be enough, and I assume that you don't have the right to any of those through ancestry etc. (It's worth mentioning though, as some people don't think of this.)

London and Edinburgh in particular are full of foreigners, so as a Canadian you wouldn't have any nationality-specific problem finding a job.
posted by different at 4:01 PM on March 9, 2007

Best answer: Seconding the Working Holiday visa, assuming you're under 30.

It will let you stay in the UK for up to two years, and work for up to 12 months of that. (In practice they have no real way of knowing if you work the whole two years).

You will need to have some cash in hand (when I did it, it was 2000 pounds; now, they don't specify a figure, but say you need to have enough to support yourself for 2 months). You do not need a job lined up.

Finding a job shouldn't be too difficult, especially in a big city. London especially relies on the foreign work-force to do temp and short-term work. As long as you have some sort of experience, you should be able to easily get casual office work.

You should be able to switch to a student visa when you get over there - I did that and it was relatively hassle free (I did pay a few hundred pounds to an immigration consultant to do the paperwork, but I don't think you would really need to).

[My experience is now a few years old and things may have changed slightly. You could also check out, who have some very useful information, and a message board for work permit seekers]
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:40 PM on March 9, 2007

I agree the working holiday visa is your best bet. My Aussie sister in-law has even been able to stay in the UK after it expired by getting sponsored by her employer, so I suspect transferring to a student visa later on would be quite possible.
posted by bystander at 1:02 AM on March 10, 2007

I'd say it's rather easy to work in the UK, and would, I'd hazard to suggest, be possible without any official UK sanction at all.
Neither of the two jobs I've held here have asked to see my work permit - which I do have - and being a non-citizen hasn't mattered at all as far as renting an apartment, going to a doctor or hospital, paying bills etc. My quite obvious Canadianness is never mentioned (and as an aside, I've never been accused of being American, nor do I go around with flag-patches plastered on everything ...please don't do that)
It's only flying into the country, that I do quite often, that my work visa is scrutinized, but with a Canadian passport I'd have leave to come and go from the UK anyway.
posted by Flashman at 5:04 AM on March 10, 2007

Until quite recently, I was just paid under a temporary SIN number...after 2.5 years I finally got around to applying for a proper one, for which I did have to attend an interview with my work permit, but not having a proper one never seemed to bother anyone either. Kind of weird, actually.
posted by Flashman at 5:08 AM on March 10, 2007

Well, I've always been asked to produce my EU passport - even agencies have asked to see it before putting me forward for a job - and my NI number when starting a new job. However they were all mainstream employers and full time jobs.

Adding to what Infinite Jest said the working holiday visa still exists - however they do seem to track you as a South African girl working in my office had to go back home after working for a year....

Foreigners have no problems getting jobs in the UK - I am German - I work in Cambridge and in my office we seem to have every nationality under the sun - grant you it is a large office with over 100 staff. But I never had a problem nor has any other foreigner I have ever spoken to.

The Britsh economy would grind to a hold without foreign workers - throughout the whole spectrum from manual labour to professional services, banks etc.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:30 AM on March 10, 2007

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