Applying for a Law Training Contract as an International Applicant

Law Training Contract Application Specialists

If you’re considering whether to apply for a training contract as an international student or international applicant, then you will need to know how the UK visa system works, and which firms are able to sponsor trainees. Currently, you might either already live in the UK and be of EU nationality – and thus have applied for the EU settlement scheme – or you will need to apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa.

Tier 5 Visas for those looking to undertake a Law Training Contract in the UK

Tier 5 visas are available to those aged 18-30 who want to live and work in the UK for up to two years. You must have around 2000 pounds in savings, and will need to be a citizen of one of Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, or Taiwan. The visa costs £244 and it takes around three weeks for a decision to be made.

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Tier 5 Visas for those looking to undertake a Law Training Contract in the UK

These are more commonly used than the Tier 2. You can apply for a Tier 5 visa if:

– you have been offered a skilled job in the UK that pays at least £30,000 per year
– you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
– you can demonstrate that your salary is appropriate for the role that you are taking
– you can demonstrate fluency in English
– you have adequate personal savings to support yourself upon arrival
– you can demonstrate your travel history for the past five years.

In order to receive a Tier 5 visa, you need a law firm to sponsor you. However, due to the administrative burden this places on a firm, you will find that only some firms are either willing or capable of sponsoring international students to become trainees. The visa costs £601 and it will take around three weeks for a decision to be made. This is the most common visa for international trainees to use. Note that you can only work for the employer who sponsors you, and if you want to switch employers then your new employer will have to take over the sponsorship. You must also update the Home Office in certain situations – if you change employment, or if your address changes, for example. It should also be noted that in order for you to receive a visa you will need a particular number of points, which will enable the UK government to vet your visa application. As it stands, employers must demonstrate that the foreign candidate fills a job that no other UK candidate can do. Clearly, this is not the case for trainee roles. As such, the firm must advertise the role and demonstrate through its HR team that you were the most suitable candidate. This is a huge amount of extra work for the firm.

The list of firms that do sponsor international applicants

The following firms sponsor international applicants:

  • Slaughter & May
  • Clifford Chance
  • Freshfields
  • Linklaters
  • Allen & Overy
  • Travers Smith
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Ashurst
  • Norton Rose
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Dentons
  • Baker McKenzie
  • DLA Piper
  • Holman Fenwick Williams
  • Watson Farley Williams
  • Stephenson Harwood
  • Fieldfisher
  • Burgess Salmon
  • Farrer & Co
  • DWF
  • Ashfords

Whilst other UK firms might sponsor international students, you should reach out to them directly to confirm this. Also, remember that the US law firms (Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, White & Case, etc) will sponsor foreign applicants. Many in fact sponsor Americans who work in the London office. Note that the larger firms are more likely to sponsor international applicants, and are in a better position to do so; firms with an intake of 100 trainees will be much more used to sponsoring students from a range of other countries than firms with an intake of 10 trainees.

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Is it worth applying for a Training Contract as an international applicant?

It certainly is. You will likely stand out from the crowd if you can suitably leverage your experience. Remember that the UK applicants will have largely the same work experience, school records, extracurriculars, etc. On the other hand, you might be able to demonstrate very different extracurriculars or a different approach in school. You should show that you are a ‘global citizen’ and that you are experienced in working with others from diverse backgrounds, and that you have a great knowledge of international commerce and law if you are to successfully use your background to your advantage.

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