Working while studying

Find out about working restrictions if you are on a Tier 4 visa, hours of work and work placements.

Visa working conditions

If you are a Tier 4 visa-holder, there are some conditions on how much and what type of work you can do.

It is a criminal offence to breach your work conditions. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) takes breaches very seriously. If you breach your conditions, you could be removed from the UK or refused a future visa.

We’re obliged to tell UKVI if you breach your working conditions.

European students

If you are a European Economic Area (EEA) member state national, you can normally work in the UK without getting permission from UKVI.

Short-term students

You are not allowed to work in the UK if you have a short-term study visa.

What you cannot do on a Tier 4 visa

You cannot:

How much you can work

If you have a Tier 4 visa you can only work in your spare time while you study, as long as it doesn’t exceed the hours stated on your visa.

This is normally 20 hours a week during term time if you study a degree and 10 hours a week if you study a course below degree level.

Important: UKVI defines a ‘week’ as meaning a period of seven days beginning with a Monday. Don’t exceed your hours for every week or try to average them out over a longer period.

Defining ‘term time’ for Tier 4 students

Your term time dates depend on the type of student you are and University policy.

Undergraduate students

You can work up to 20 hours a week during term-time and you can work full-time during:

  • winter vacation, during Semester One – Saturday 14 December 2019 to Sunday 5 January 2020
  • spring vacation, during Semester Two – Saturday 28 March 2020 to Sunday 19 April 2020
  • summer vacation and when your course officially ends – from Sunday 7 June 2020.

Masters students

You can work up to 20 hours a week during term-time and you can work full-time during:

  • the winter and spring vacations, as above
  • when your course officially ends (normally the end date on your CAS – 30 September in most cases).

The summer vacation is still term time for Masters students.

PhD students

Normal term dates do not apply if you’re doing a PhD.

You’re not allowed to exceed 20 hours a week at any point while you are studying, including during periods of ‘authorised absence’. See the policy for authorised absence.

The exception is during periods of approved annual leave.

After your viva

How much you can work while you’re on a PhD depends on the outcome of your viva.

If you pass unconditionally, you have no further study commitments.

You can:

  • work over the 20 hours a week permitted
  • carry on working until your visa expires or you leave the UK.

There may, however, be complications re-entering the UK on your Tier 4 visa after your studies have ended.

If you have corrections, you cannot work over the 20 hours a week permitted until you have submitted your corrections.

After corrections have been submitted, you can work over 20 hours until your visa expires, or you leave the UK for any reason.

As above, there may be complications re-entering the UK.

If you need to revise and resubmit your thesis, you will be registered for another year.

You must not work over 20 hours a week until you have resubmitted your thesis and we have confirmed you have no further academic commitments.

If a second viva is necessary, follow the advice for passing unconditionally or with corrections.

Where to check your work conditions

Check your biometric residence permit (BRP) for your work conditions.

This outlines how many hours you can work, and when.

If you notice an error with your work conditions, find out how to correct your BRP.

You must work according to the hours listed on your BRP – even if they are wrong.

Volunteering and unpaid work

There is a difference between unpaid employment and volunteering.

Find out about different types of voluntary work on the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

Documents you need to work

Your employer must ask to see documents that establish your right to work in the UK before you are offered a job.

These include your passport or biometric residence permit and a letter or email from us containing your term and holiday dates.

You can get a letter from:

National Insurance number

You must apply to get a National Insurance number after you have a job offer, so that you can be paid and receive National Insurance contributions.

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