This page will explain your work rights in the UK whilst on a Sudent visa. It is your responsibility to understand your work rights and to make sure you do not breach these conditions. Breaking work conditions is considered to be a serious breach of your Student visa responsibilities.
How many hours can I work?
If you are studying in the UK at degree level or above with a Tier 4 or student visa you will usually be permitted to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and an unlimited number of hours during University vacation periods.
If, however, you are studying on an International Foundation Programme you can work no more than 10 hours per week in term time. If you are on a Pre-Sessional English course and you are thinking about working, please contact us first.
When is it term-time?
- Undergraduate Students
You must check the official term and vacation dates. Undergraduate term dates are published on our website here. During official University vacation periods you can work more than 20 hours per week on a Student visa.
- Postgraduate Taught Students (Masters)
Your vacation dates may be different to those published on our website so please check the dates with your School. Please note that just because your classes or exams have finished, you may not be in your official vacation period. Please speak with your School if you are unsure about your official term dates.
If you are writing up a dissertation or thesis, even if you are not attending classes, this is not a vacation period for you. This means that you should not work more than 20 hours per week during this time and should not work full-time until the official end date of your course.
- Postgraduate Research Students (PhD)
Postgraduate research courses are run over 52 weeks and as such you do not have vacation periods. All Postgraduate research students can book up to 30 days annual leave and provided that this has been booked officially, is authorised by your School and is recorded on your record you may work more than 20 hours per week during this time.
Be careful about re-sits. If you have re-sits to do during vacation periods you must not work more than 20 hours per week during this time as this becomes term time for you again.
Working at the end of my course
- Undergraduate and Postgraduate
You are allowed to work more than 20 hours per week once your course end date has passed for a period of 4 months or until your visa expires, whichever is shorter.
*Please note that your official course end date must have passed for this to take effect. So even if you finish your exams earlier than your official course end date, you should not begin working more than 20 hours per week until your course end date has passed.
- Postgraduate Research (PhD)
You are allowed to work more than 20 hours per week once you have handed in your final bound thesis as you will have no more academic work left to do at this stage. You can only work full-time for a period of 4 months or until your visa expires whichever is shorter.
What kind of work can I do?
If you are studying in the UK with a Tier 4 or student visa you will be permitted to do most kinds of work but you must NOT:
- Be employed as an entertainer
- Be employed as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach
- Be self-employed or engage in business activity (see below for details*)
- Take a permanent full-time job
- Work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you are on the foundation programme.
The Student Visa Modernised Guidance (10/2020) states:
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 leave to remain 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
- take employment as a doctor in training (unless the course that they are being sponsored to do (as recorded on the CAS) is a recognised Foundation Programme)
A Student or Child Student will be considered to be engaging in business activity if they are working for a business in which they have a financial or other significant beneficial interest in a capacity other than as an employee.
Some examples which would be considered to be engaging in business activity are below. This is not an exhaustive list, but provides examples of activities which meet the definition of a Student or Child Student engaging in business activity:
- setting up a business as a sole trader or under a partnership arrangement and that business is either trading or establishing a trading presence
- being employed Tier 4/Student Visa by a company in which they hold shares of 10% or more (including where the shares are held in a trust for them)
- working for a company where Tier 4/Student Visa also hold a statutory role, such as a director
Check the UKCISA website for further information.
Please do contact us if you are unsure about your Tier 4/Student Visa work conditions.