Advice for UK students:
EEA and Swiss students: working in the UK
- Can I work in the UK?
- I am a Bulgarian or Romanian national. Will I still be subject to the Worker Authorisation Scheme from 1 January 2012?
- Can my family members who are EEA or Swiss nationals work in the UK?
- Can my non-EEA national family members work in the UK?
- I am a Bulgarian or Romanian national. Am I allowed to undertake voluntary work without work authorisation?
- Where can I find out more about being an EEA or Swiss national in the UK?
Can I work in the UK?
Yes. All EEA and Swiss national students can work in the UK. If you are a national of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia, you no longer need to register your work under the Worker Registration and are free to take up employment without being subject to any special requirements.
However, if you are a national of Bulgaria or Romania, you might be subject to the Worker Authorisation Scheme. If you are in the UK as a student, this means you might have to apply for a registration certificate as a student before you can start work. Any employment is limited to 20 hours a week in term time, but you can work full time in your holidays and on work placements, and for up to four months after your studies end. This application is free.
If you are Bulgarian or Romanian and you have finished your studies in the UK and have obtained an HND from a Scottish institution, or a degree, postgraduate certificate or postgraduate diploma from any UK institution you can apply for unrestricted permission to work as a highly skilled person, on form BR2. Your qualification can be in any subject.
If you are Bulgarian or Romanian and you had permission to work in the UK that was granted before 1 January 2007, and it has not yet expired, you can continue to rely on this permission (worker authorisation document) if:
- the permission limits your work to a particular employer or category of employment, for example, as a work permit holder or au pair (student work permission is not relevant) and
- you continue to work for the employer for which your immigration permission was granted.
If your immigration permission ends or you leave that employment, you need to check what you must do if you want to continue working in the UK and whether you are now exempt from the Worker Authorisation Scheme.
Check your work status, and how to apply under the Worker Authorisation Scheme using our EEA Work Checker.
I am a Bulgarian or Romanian national. Will I still be subject to the Worker Authorisation Scheme from 1 January 2012?
The Migration Advisory Committee has in its report to the UKBA of November 2011 concluded that maintaining the existing restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals' access to the labour market would assist in addressing the serious labour market disturbance to the UK. This is likely to mean that the UK government will maintain the current restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals beyond 1 January 2012. However, the restrictions can not extend beyond 31 December 2013.
Can my family members who are EEA or Swiss nationals work in the UK?
If your family member is a national of Austria, Belgium, Republic of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain Sweden, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, they will be free to work in the UK.
If your family member is a national of Romania or Bulgaria, they may, in some circumstances, be subject to the Worker Authorisation Scheme. Use our EEA Work Checker to find out whether your family member is allowed to work and which application they need to make.
Can my non-EEA national family members work in the UK?
If you are allowed to work, your family member who is not an EEA or Swiss national can also work in the UK. Family members who can accompany you and work are usually your wife or husband or your civil partner, dependent children and, in many cases, unmarried partners and dependent grandchildren, parents and grandparents. The easiest way to prove to an employer that your family member has the right to work is by applying for a document, usually a residence card, from the UK Government.
If you are a Bulgarian or Romanian national, and you have a worker authorisation document (for example, a current work permit or an accession worker card), your family member should apply for a family member residence stamp on form BR6. If you a Bulgarian or Romanian national who can work without needing a worker authorisation document, for example as a student with a registration certificate, your family member should apply for a residence card on form BR5.
I am a Bulgarian or Romanian national. Am I allowed to undertake voluntary work without work authorisation?
We have asked the UKBA if Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are able to undertake voluntary work without requiring authorisation and have received the following response:
- "A Bulgarian or Romanian national who is exercising a Treaty right as a student is permitted to do unlimited voluntary work, without requiring a registration certificate or other authorisation from UKBA, provided the activity complies with the definition of voluntary worker in section 44 of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.
- A Bulgarian or Romanian student is permitted to undertake an unpaid work placement as part of their course, without requiring a registration certificate or other authorisation, provided the lack of payment does not infringe NMW legislation. An example of when an unpaid placement would be acceptable is where it forms part of a UK further or higher education course and lasts no longer than one year. For further information, see information on the National Minimum Wage pages of the new : Gov.uk website.
- It should be noted in both cases that since the activities described do not constitute 'work', a Bulgarian or Romanian national would not become exempt from worker authorisation on the basis of 12 months' voluntary work or unpaid work placements."
In summary, you can do voluntary work without worker authorisation. If you work for a charity, a voluntary organisation (or a fundraising agency for either of these two types of organisation) or a statutory organisation, your work is voluntary if you get no payment for it other than work-related expenses. There are some exceptions to this in section 44 of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 (as amended), but seek advice before starting any voluntary work where you might be given 'payment in kind', such as training or any kind of living costs.
Where can I find out more about being an EEA or Swiss national in the UK?
There is more detailed guidance for employers and employees about the Worker Authorisation Scheme for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals.