In the year ending March 2021, there were 37% fewer work-related visas granted than the previous year, reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. What is it really like for those looking for a work visa?
In the journalism sector, which has already dramatically shrunk in the past decade, many visa-dependent graduates have faced a strenuous journey to employment.
I didn’t know how privileged I was until I met someone who faced deportation the moment he graduated from university. It sounded crazy to me – that you could study so hard for three years, achieving the highest of grades, but struggle to get hired because of your nationality.
Anay has entered his tenth week of job hunting. Sitting across from me, as I plod on with a job I secured a month before I even graduated, he sends in his one-hundred-and-something application, hoping this might just be the one.
The hunt has been long and brutal. While some of his applications don’t get a reply or are immediately rejected, those aren’t the ones that hurt. The ones that reach the final stage, the ones that I’ve seen raise his hopes and charge him with energy, only to then rip him to pieces – those are the nasty ones.
Every time, there comes a moment where he must convince a stranger that he is worth more than John or Sally. They need to be guaranteed that sponsoring his work visa and waiting for the government to process it will ‘all be worth it’.
The UK’s Skilled Worker Visa allows citizens from outside the country to live and work in Britain, with an eligible employer. To hire someone and sponsor them, however, businesses need a license, the will to spend a little more money on their employee, and to wait for a visa to get processed by the government – which can take up to three months.
To apply for a job that sponsors a visa, you not only need to go through all the usual job application steps, but you also need to make sure it pays your city’s minimum salary and that it is in the same sector that you qualified in.
Sadly, that hasn’t happened yet. In Anay’s experience, even the organisations with the big bucks don’t think a first-class journalism graduate is worth waiting a little longer and paying a little more for.