You can work while studying in the UK if:

  • You are on a Student or Tier 4 visa, and
  • Your entry clearance visa in your passport, Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or the email confirming the grant of your digital immigration status confirms you can work.

You cannot work if you are in the UK on a Standard Visitor visa.

Work after studies queries

Term-time work restrictions

Students with a valid Student or Tier 4 visa are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during term time

Work during vacations

Working full-time is permitted at the following times:

  • The 1 month on your visa before the course start date,
  • Official vacation periods for your level of study, and
  • The final 4 months of your visa after you have reached the official course completion date.

Undergraduates

Students studying at undergraduate level have specific term-dates and official vacation periods which allow for full-time work during those vacation periods.

Masters and PhD

Students studying a one-year Masters are permitted to work full-time during the College Christmas and Easter closures and after their official course end date. Masters level students are NOT considered to be on vacation during the summer months. You can only work full-time, during the summer, if you are undertaking an assessed work placement that is part of their course. 

PhD students are entitled to 25 days annual leave during the year. If your annual leave has been approved by your supervisor, you may work full-time hours on those annual leave days. PhD students may also work full time

Working after the course has ended

Your Student/Tier 4 visa is granted for the length of your course plus 4 additional months. Once you have reached the official course end date for your course you can work full-time during those final 4 months of your visa (the formal course end date for PhD students will be completion of academic work, i.e. submitting your dissertation/thesis including final corrections).

You can work full-time hours on a temporary contract up until your visa expiry date.

If you have completed your course early and this means your visa will end earlier, you may only work the 4 months following your new course completion date.

Before your visa expires you must:

  • Apply for the Graduate Visa if you are eligible,
  • Look for sponsorship from an employer and apply for the Skilled Worker visa,
  • Apply for another visa that would allow you to remain in the UK, or
  • Leave the UK before your Student/Tier 4 visa expires.

Permissible types of work

As a Student/Tier 4 Student visa holder you can only work if you are considered an ‘employee’. Students who are allowed to work must not:

  • be self-employed or engage in business activity, except where they are awaiting a decision on an application for permission to stay as a Start-up migrant which is supported by an endorsement from a qualifying HEP with a track record of compliance
  • take employment as an entertainer or as a professional sportsperson, including a sports coach
  • fill a full-time permanent vacancy other than a recognised foundation programme and all other requirements are met or where they are filling a post as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer

Please see the item below which explains the difference between an 'employee' and 'self-employed'.

Difference between 'employee' and 'self-employed'

Employee

The UK Government defines being an employee as follows: 

“Someone who works for a business is probably an employee if most of the following are true:

  • they’re required to work regularly unless they’re on leave, eg holiday, sick leave or maternity leave
  • they’re required to do a minimum number of hours and expect to be paid for the time worked.   A manager or supervisor is responsible for their workload, saying when a piece of work should be finished and how it should be done
  • they can’t send someone else to do their work
  • the business deducts tax and National Insurance contributions from their wages
  • they get paid holiday
  • they’re entitled to contractual or Statutory Sick Pay, and maternity or paternity pay
  • the business’s disciplinary and grievance procedures apply to them
  • they work at the business’s premises or at an address specified by the business
  • the business provides the materials, tools and equipment for their work
  • they only work for the business or if they do have another job, it’s completely different from their work for the business
  • their contract, statement of terms and conditions or offer letter (which can be described as an employment contract’) uses terms like ‘employer’ and ‘employee’”

Self-employed

The UK Government gives some advice about how acting as ‘self employed’ can be defined:

“Someone is probably self-employed and doesn’t have the rights of an employee if they’re exempt from PAYE and most of the following are also true:

  • they put in bids or give quotes to get work
  • they’re not under direct supervision when working
  • they submit invoices for the work they’ve done
  • they’re responsible for paying their own National Insurance and tax
  • they don’t get holiday or sick pay when they’re not working
  • they operate under a contract (sometimes known as a ‘contract for services’ or ‘consultancy agreement’) that uses terms like ‘self-employed’, ‘consultant’ or an ‘independent contractor’”

If you are not sure if you are being asked to work as self-employed, please check with the International Student Support team BEFORE commencing the work. Working in breach of your immigration permission is a serious offence and can have implications on your ability to remain in the UK.

For further information, visit UKCISA.

Work placements

You can work full-time on a work placement if:

  • You have a Student/Tier 4 visa,
  • You must not spend more than 50% of the time on your course doing a work placement, or work placements,
  • Your work placement must be an assessed part of your course, and
  • Your employer is monitoring your attendance and reporting back to your department who remain responsible for you during the work placement.

Internships

Some UK companies offer students an opportunity to undertake an internship during their vacations. All Student/Tier 4 visa holders are permitted to undertake an internship during the official College closure during the Christmas and Easter holidays. However, only undergraduate students can undertake an internship during the summer vacation. The summer vacation starts after the formal end of term.

MSc students who wish to undertake employment during the summer must either be doing a work placement as an assessed part of the course or not exceeding the 20 hours per week term-time work restriction. 

EU / EEA / Swiss nationals

EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who hold settled or pre-settled status in the UK have no work restrictions.

EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who enter the UK from 1 January 2021 and require a Student Visa will fall under the work restrictions for the Student Visa route.