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Home International Students Study, work & more Working during your studies

Working during your studies

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Many Tier 4 (General) students can do some work in the UK during their studies. Tier 4 (Child) students who are aged 16 or older can work up to 10 hours a week. Younger students are not allowed to work.

If you apply as a Tier 4 (General) student, whether you can work depends on where you study. If you study at a private college, in most cases you will not be allowed to work, even if the private college has Highly Trusted Sponsor status. However, if your private college is a recognised body, you will be allowed to work.

You will be allowed to work if you study at one of the following types of education provider:

This information applies to you if you make or made your immigration application on or after 4 July 2011. For full details, including information about your work situation if you made your immigration application before 4 July 2011, see Can I work?

Do my work conditions change when the rules change?

Not immediately. New rules do not affect you if you already have immigration permission to be in the UK. You have to comply with the rules that were in force when you applied for that permission. However, if you need to make an immigration application to stay longer, the new rules will apply to you from the date when you are granted permission to stay.

This means, for example, that if you are at a private college and you have permission to work, you do not have to stop working. The changes to the Immigration Rules that came into force on 4 July 2011 affect you only if you make an immigration application on or after that date. Your work conditions might then change, but only once you have been granted your new immigration permission. You can continue working until you are granted new permission that says something different, for example, that work is prohibited.

The same applies if you have been able to work for up to 20 hours a week and you are at a publicly-funded further education college. You can continue to work up to 20 hours a week until you apply for and are granted new immigration permission. This new permission will restrict you to working 10 hours a week and you should then comply with that restriction.

Can I pay for my studies through work?

You should be able to pay your tuition fees and living costs without having to work in the UK. However, if you need to make an immigration application in the UK, and you are working lawfully within the restrictions described above, you can use your UK earnings to show that you can meet the maintenance requirements. You should not rely on money from work in the UK because:

  • it can be difficult to find work
  • it is unlikely that you will earn enough to cover all your costs
  • you might lose your job
  • you might have problems with your studies if you spend too much time working.

Can you take a gap year and work full time?

No. If you want to defer your studies for a year, you should leave the UK and come back when your studies start again. You can work full time only in your vacations, or when you have finished your studies, or if you are doing a work placement or an internship

Income tax

If you earn more than a specified personal allowance in any tax year, you will have to pay income tax. HM Revenue & Customs and the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group provide detailed information about how the tax system in the UK applies to students.

National Insurance

Your National Insurance number (NINo) is a unique personal number which is used to record your National Insurance (NI) contributions. Employees and employers both pay NI contributions, which help to fund contributory benefits, for example, the state pension and jobseeker's allowance. You do not need to have a NINo before starting work, but you must obtain one when you get a job.

HM Revenue & Customs – information about how to apply for a NINo

Tax credits

If the entry clearance or residence permit in your passport states that you are subject to the condition "No recourse to public funds", or if your identity card says "No public funds", you must not apply for tax credits. This would be a breach of your immigration conditions.

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