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International students: visa requirements for the pre-registration year

Visa controls can make life difficult for international students looking for a pre-registration placement. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Pharmacy Professional Sponsorship Scheme, which was introduced to support overseas pharmacy students who were already studying pharmacy at GB universities at the time of the closure of the tier 1 Post-Study Work visa in April 2012, does not cover students who started their degree after April 2012.

Visa switch

Students who started their degree after April 2012 will need to switch from a tier 4 study visa to a general tier 2 work visa before beginning the pre-registration training year. Applicants will need to fit the eligibility criteria which includes having a certificate of sponsorship reference number and an appropriate salary.

Is your employer a registered sponsor?

Double check that any potential employer is a registered sponsor or is willing to become one. Apply for as many positions as possible to maximise your chances of getting the right placement.

Job applications

Make sure that you use your university careers service. They can help you to prepare your CV and double check your job application forms. Also be sure to attend as many student-focused careers fairs and introduce yourself to potential employers.

Appropriate salary

Community pre-registration placements may not match the appropriate salary requirements for a tier 2 visa. Some students have considered offering to work additional hours (up to a maximum of 48 hours), or adding value by working in excess of the training requirements, for example, offering to help with enhanced services.

International advantage

International students have to overcome many challenges in order to study in the UK, for example, undertaking a degree that is not in their native language and adjusting to another culture. Successfully overcoming these challenges demonstrates resilience and strength of character (both very necessary qualities for pharmacists). Do be sure that this comes across in your CV and at interviews.

Have a back-up plan

If you cannot get a placement that fits the visa criteria, you might need a back-up plan. Things to consider are can you undergo your final training in your home country and register there as a pharmacist? Or you could have a look at some of the science graduate schemes offered by organisations such as the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry.

For further information on all aspects of the visa criteria, see our International students: visa requirements for the pre-registration year fact sheet.

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