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Junior bankers with visas and European students say they can't get jobs in London now

Two decades ago, following the bursting of the tech bubble and around the time of US banks' rapid expansion in the City, London was inundated with graduate recruits from the European Union. Universities like Bocconi and the French Grandes Ecoles were all the rage. Four years after Brexit, times have changed.

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WhatsApp groups for students seeking jobs in London are full of overseas students complaining that they can't get jobs at banks in London now because no one wants to sponsor their visas. The problem appears particularly acute for spring and summer internship applications, for which students studying overseas say they've received barely any offers. 

Omar Sadraoui, a Paris-based ex-Deutsche Bank associate who now helps students get jobs in banking through his company, Invest & You, says European university students' disproportionate failure to get offers from banks is not imagined. "Many employers won't sponsor you for a spring or summer internship," he tells us. "And when you try to get a new job, headhunters will ask if you're already in the UK." 

Foreign students who want to work for London banks aren't shut out altogether, though. They can still spend up to two years working in the UK on graduate visas, which the British government decided to keep yesterday, and which allow students to remain in the country for two years after graduating from British universities. They can also apply for High Potential Individual (HPI) visas, which allow people who've studied at elite universities globally to remain in the UK for two years (or three years if they've completed a PhD).  

Nonetheless, chatrooms are full of horror stories about people like an HEC graduate who was fired and then had to leave the UK because no one would renew her visa. One young Indian who's been working in financial services in London for nearly two years after graduating, tells us he's made over 500 job applications without any luck. "With less than two months left on my visa, I'm determined and hopeful, but I feel I'm being treated very unfairly," he says. He points to friends who've had interviews shutdown following visa discussions, and to an experienced software developer and Imperial College graduate who's only ever offered short term contracts by banks and technology firms to avoid visa issues. "Applicant Tracking System (ATS) seems to be configured so that when you say you need a visa, you immediately receive a rejection stating that you don't meet the requirements," he adds. 

Sadraoui says it could be worse: in France, overseas students can only work in the country for a year after graduation. The UK's post-study work visa is generous by comparison. "At this stage, there are more and more Europeans and foreign students deciding to study in the UK," he observes.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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