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From Tier 1 PSW to Tier 2 General, you can do it too
I decided to come to the UK in 2003 to study Computer Sciences in Manchester. I was 18 at the time and I was happy that I would have the freedom and independence at such a young age; and worrying about visas and immigration was the last thing on my mind. My family was living in Dubai, where the GDP per capita and the income levels are much higher than the UK, so staying in the UK after graduation was not an attractive option for me financially.
I finished my degree in 2006 and happily went back to Dubai, got used to living there again fast and easy. Having a UK degree in my CV gave me an edge in my job search (not that many UK graduates back in the time compared to 2011!) and I started working as a junior web developer in a multinational company. As time went by I got promoted, and I was very surprised when my company wanted me to do a Master’s degree in 2009, giving me a choice of either studying in America or the UK. I chose the UK because I was used to how things worked there and it took 1 year to complete as opposed to 2 years in America. However, this time I wanted to study in the south of England - Sussex University Msc Advanced Computer Science seemed like the perfect option.
I met my girlfriend during the first term of my studies. She was also a student at Sussex University and was planning to live and work in the UK for the rest of her life! Our relationship progressed and as my plan was to stay in the UK for only a year, I was forced to make a decision between my career in Dubai and my relationship in the UK. In January 2010 I made a big decision and terminated my contract with my company in Dubai, agreeing to pay the full tuition and living costs of my postgraduate studies in the UK.
Not knowing whether I made the right decision or not, I focused on my final project, which was due early September 2010. My plan was to look for a job right after finishing my project (I wasn’t sure about this so I had to go through a lengthy research process but all other forum member please remember, you are legally allowed to work in the UK if you finished your studies and are awaiting your higher education qualification) and apply for a Tier 1 Post Study Work visa in February 2011, when I have my diploma. I wasn’t happy with my situation as I would have to convince an employer to hire me without holding a vaild work visa. The miracle happened just in time before I completed my project, when one of my classmates whom I came to be good friends with over time asked me to work with him at IBM in London! He was asked to complete a Master’s degree by IBM and was looking for new team members to work with.
Without a doubt I accepted his offer and my visa plans changed after we had a chat about my visa situation. As my girlfriend wanted to settle in the UK and did not want to live in Dubai, I needed to take immigration more seriously. So even though I was a bit hesitant and shy at first, I decided to ask him if he would be willing to help with my situation. My friend (now my boss) accepted to ask IBM to sponspor me, and rather than applying for Tier 1 PSW, I applied for Tier 2 General in February 2011. I got my visa in less than a month and now I’m so much closer to IRL (Indefinite Leave to Remain) than I would have been with Tier 1 PSW.
My girlfriend finished her degree in July 2011 and got her Tier 1 PSW in September. Now she is in the process of setting up her own business and I’m commuting to London three times a week from our flat in Brighton. We are planning to get married in a few years time, after she switches to Tier 2 General.
My advice is, if you are serious about ILR and if you believe you are the right person for a specific job, do not be shy to ask your employer to sponsor you. I know the Tier 1 PSW route will be abolished in April 2012, but if a similar visa route comes into effect and if you already found a job before your current visa expires, explain your situation and see what happens next. Many employees think employers will shy away if they think they will have to deal with an employee’s visa problems. However, if you are positive with your situation and if you can convince them all you need is some simple documents (for Tier 2 sponsorship), they might be happy to help. Give it a go.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author's and not necessarily those of UKresident.com or any entity associated with UKresident.com. This article is not checked for accuracy by any qualified immigration consultant or solicitor either represented on this site or otherwise. We will not be legally responsible for any statement made in this article. If you're going through the UK immigration process we strongly advise that you appoint a UK immigration consultant or immigration solicitor to deal with your case.
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