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International Students & Vacation Schemes

wildprincessx

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Aug 6, 2019
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Hi! I'm currently a final year law student graduating in 2021. I have been trying to get a TC in the UK but have had no luck in the past 2 years. Due to my country not recognising the LPC but the Bar Qualification, I have opted to take the Bar Course (starting January 2022) so that if I am unable to secure a job in the UK, I can still return to my home country and practice as a lawyer. However, I am still on the hunt for a TC and will be submitting VS/TC apps during the 2021-2022 recruitment cycle. I am just a bit confused as to my eligibility for summer/winter VS and schemes in general as I won't be on holiday during the summer and I technically would have 'graduated' in the winter. Could anyone who has gone through the same process provide any advice?

Further on another note, what is the chances of looking for a paralegal role at the firm instead of a TC and making my way through that route?

Thank you so much!
 

Dheepa

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    You will definitely still be eligible for spring/summer/winter vacs since most firms are happy to take in graduates across all three. Some firms do have a preference for graduates and finalists applying for winter and spring vacs specifically with summer vacs are usually aimed at penultimate year students, but in my experience I've seen graduates do vacs across any of those intakes so in practice I think you'd be alright applying for any of them. TC applications are a bit different and I think firms are more strict about which TC window you apply in as a graduate (like A&O and Freshfields for example). It's best to check directly on the recruitment website for each firm though.

    The only issue I foresee with regards to applying for summer vacs is that the Tier 4 visa only lets you do 20 hours of work while studying. So if your your official term time carries on into the summer, you potentially won't be able to legally complete the scheme because of the restriction on full-time work while studying.

    With regards to applying for a paralegal role, I think they're actually incredibly difficult to secure, especially if you don't already have a TC offer or have not yet done the LPC. The other thing to remember is just because you are offered a paralegal role with the firm doesn't necessarily mean you stand a better chance at the TC. You'd still have to apply for a TC and go through the normal recruitment process. Personally I think you're better off focusing on VS/TC apps only.

    Hope that helps and good luck with the Bar too!
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Agree with Dheepa's points - they may be scarce, but also look out for paralegal roles that have language requirements you can meet. Then firms tend to be less worried about the LPC/future trainee requirements, as the main objective is to find someone with fluency in a language and English.
     

    wildprincessx

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    Aug 6, 2019
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    You will definitely still be eligible for spring/summer/winter vacs since most firms are happy to take in graduates across all three. Some firms do have a preference for graduates and finalists applying for winter and spring vacs specifically with summer vacs are usually aimed at penultimate year students, but in my experience I've seen graduates do vacs across any of those intakes so in practice I think you'd be alright applying for any of them. TC applications are a bit different and I think firms are more strict about which TC window you apply in as a graduate (like A&O and Freshfields for example). It's best to check directly on the recruitment website for each firm though.

    The only issue I foresee with regards to applying for summer vacs is that the Tier 4 visa only lets you do 20 hours of work while studying. So if your your official term time carries on into the summer, you potentially won't be able to legally complete the scheme because of the restriction on full-time work while studying.

    With regards to applying for a paralegal role, I think they're actually incredibly difficult to secure, especially if you don't already have a TC offer or have not yet done the LPC. The other thing to remember is just because you are offered a paralegal role with the firm doesn't necessarily mean you stand a better chance at the TC. You'd still have to apply for a TC and go through the normal recruitment process. Personally I think you're better off focusing on VS/TC apps only.

    Hope that helps and good luck with the Bar too!

    Hi Dheepa! Thank you for your comprehensive reply. My main concern is the Tier 4 Visa since I wont technically have a summer break- would this mean that the firms will automatically reject me due to these visa considerations. Further since some firms recruit solely from VS, does this mean I would be disadvantaged??

    With regards to the paralegal route, thank you for the insight! I'll try focusing my attention on TC/VS then :)
     

    wildprincessx

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    Aug 6, 2019
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    Agree with Dheepa's points - they may be scarce, but also look out for paralegal roles that have language requirements you can meet. Then firms tend to be less worried about the LPC/future trainee requirements, as the main objective is to find someone with fluency in a language and English.
    Thank you Jessica! I'll look into roles with language requirements- I have quite a few under my belt :)
     

    whisperingrock

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  • Sep 12, 2020
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    Hi Dheepa! Thank you for your comprehensive reply. My main concern is the Tier 4 Visa since I wont technically have a summer break- would this mean that the firms will automatically reject me due to these visa considerations. Further since some firms recruit solely from VS, does this mean I would be disadvantaged??

    With regards to the paralegal route, thank you for the insight! I'll try focusing my attention on TC/VS then :)
    If you are still in full term time during the time summer VSs are happening you would not be able to legally work more than 20 hours a week and so would not be able to undertake vacation schemes. And yes this would disadvantage you when it comes to firms that largely or only recruit from vacation schemes.
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Hi Dheepa! Thank you for your comprehensive reply. My main concern is the Tier 4 Visa since I wont technically have a summer break- would this mean that the firms will automatically reject me due to these visa considerations. Further since some firms recruit solely from VS, does this mean I would be disadvantaged??

    With regards to the paralegal route, thank you for the insight! I'll try focusing my attention on TC/VS then :)
    You don't have to be on a break, you just have to be outside of term time. Therefore if your term finishes in June/July, and your visa lasts until Sept/Oct, you could work in between those dates.

    You could also apply for the post-graduate visa which would give you up to two years of working in the UK from your end of term date.
     
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    danieljonesqb

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    Sep 6, 2020
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    Hi @Jessica Booker, I know this may be a long shot, but on the point of the 20 hours per week time limit, have you ever come across a case wherein an international student has been able to secure something like a waiver letter from their university (their Tier 4 visa sponsor), which allows them to work more than the 20 hours if the vacation scheme overlaps both term time and holiday time?

    Would a student be able to get something of that sort if the vacation scheme is in very close proximity to the end of term/near holiday time on the calendar?
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Hi @Jessica Booker, I know this may be a long shot, but on the point of the 20 hours per week time limit, have you ever come across a case wherein an international student has been able to secure something like a waiver letter from their university (their Tier 4 visa sponsor), which allows them to work more than the 20 hours if the vacation scheme overlaps both term time and holiday time?

    Would a student be able to get something of that sort if the vacation scheme is in very close proximity to the end of term/near holiday time on the calendar?
    Many years ago I know a couple of universities who did it. But then the BA started to crack down on students working during term time and at one point revoked two institutions abilities to get visas for their students. Since then I know a lot of universities just won’t do it for fear of any risk of a fine or worse, their right to get student visa being revoked. The only way I have heard unis getting around it now is proving it is some form of academic requirement for the course.
     

    sandralai

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    Oct 14, 2021
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    Hi. Thank you very much for everyone's insights. Adding onto the topic, I am an international student on Tier 4 Visa. Does the term break count as "outside" term time (such that London winter vacation schemes are actually out of the question for international students)?

    I understand that the winter vacation scheme deadlines are fast approaching (with some more coming for spring/summer vacation schemes). In this case, should I aim to quickly make inquiries to all firms as to whether they are willing to sponsor visas for (1) vacation schemes; and (2) training contracts before I make any applications, so that I don't waste time drafting applications? I do realise that some firms have Q&As already covering the issue (e.g. Freshfields) but very often firms have avoided talking about visa altogether.

    Many thanks once again!
     

    wildprincessx

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    Aug 6, 2019
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    Hi. Thank you very much for everyone's insights. Adding onto the topic, I am an international student on Tier 4 Visa. Does the term break count as "outside" term time (such that London winter vacation schemes are actually out of the question for international students)?

    I understand that the winter vacation scheme deadlines are fast approaching (with some more coming for spring/summer vacation schemes). In this case, should I aim to quickly make inquiries to all firms as to whether they are willing to sponsor visas for (1) vacation schemes; and (2) training contracts before I make any applications, so that I don't waste time drafting applications? I do realise that some firms have Q&As already covering the issue (e.g. Freshfields) but very often firms have avoided talking about visa altogether.

    Many thanks once again!
    Hi Sandra, from what I understand:
    1. Firms will not sponsor visas for vacation schemes and as such you will need to apply for schemes that fall outside your term time (ie: lessons are no longer being conducted and you are officially on vacation). This will vary according to each university but from my experience university holidays often started around the second week of December.
    2. Yes, I cannot stress the importance of emailing the firms to double confirm that they sponsor work visas. More often than not, major firms will sponsor your visa but it is better to be safe than sorry. From my experience most firms are very forthright with their visa policies so it shouldn't be too hard to weed out the firms that don't sponsor.
    Best of luck!
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Aug 1, 2019
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    Hi. Thank you very much for everyone's insights. Adding onto the topic, I am an international student on Tier 4 Visa. Does the term break count as "outside" term time (such that London winter vacation schemes are actually out of the question for international students)?

    I understand that the winter vacation scheme deadlines are fast approaching (with some more coming for spring/summer vacation schemes). In this case, should I aim to quickly make inquiries to all firms as to whether they are willing to sponsor visas for (1) vacation schemes; and (2) training contracts before I make any applications, so that I don't waste time drafting applications? I do realise that some firms have Q&As already covering the issue (e.g. Freshfields) but very often firms have avoided talking about visa altogether.

    Many thanks once again!
    Firms won’t sponsor visas for vacation schemes. The cost and process alone would be more than the scheme itself.

    Interestingly the law makes it somewhat difficult to ask candidates about their work permit status, which is why many firms don’t ask.