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I am an international student and I just got the offer of a very good D.Phil. program in an elite university in the UK. My only concern is the "two-body problem", i.e., I have to get involved into a long-distance relation with my fiancee, who is currently in Asia.

To balance her career goals and our relationship, my fiancee decided to find a research position in the same university. She has graduated from a master program in biology from a recognized local university with several years research experiences and one publication. We understood it is difficult for a (non-UK/EU) foreigner to find a job in the UK, and hence we decided to send emails to potential supervisors with relevant research interests and asked for an unpaid volunteering helper position.

May I know how would you think about such an email as a professor? Whether it is possible for a university to offer an unpaid volunteering helper position? Will a university help to solve the "two-body problem" for a perspective D.Phil. student?

  • Elite universities in the UK try their best to support their students (and in my experience, they are excellent at it), which includes all kinds of help. So my suggestion would be to get in touch with your supervisor and explain the situation. They can then advise you further and even get you in touch with the right people. – 101010111100 Mar 18 '17 at 14:47
  • @101010111100 Thanks for your advice. Do you think it is proper to ask my (potential) supervisor at this moment before I enroll the program? – John Mar 18 '17 at 15:14
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    Before you pursue this exact plan, I would strongly encourage you to ask about this on Expatriates StackExchange as well. In many countries, a foreign citizen cannot "volunteer" for a job that would normally be a paid job; their rationale is that if a foreign citizen does this, it deprives one of their own citizens of an opportunity to work. I'm not sure of the precise rules in the UK, though, which is why I'm posting this as a comment rather than an answer. – Michael Seifert Mar 18 '17 at 16:16
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    @MichaelSeifert At a more basic level, it would violate minimum wage law. This idea is a total non-starter. – David Richerby Mar 19 '17 at 9:51
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    I'm guessing the director of your PhD program. Unless your partner is in the same field as you, that person will not (likely) be helping her directly, but will rather introduce you to someone else, in a better position to help her. Before you write the letter, have your partner look over all the possible departments that she might fit into well, so you can list them all. Sometimes a person with research interests in X field is employed by Y department. – aparente001 Mar 21 '17 at 13:52

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