Can you work?

Last modified: 29 January 2019

Tier 4 (General) students sponsored by a higher education institution (HEI) or by an overseas HEI to study a full-time course can work during their studies. Tier 4 sponsors are listed by type of institution in the register of Tier 4 sponsors

Tier 4 (Child) students aged 16 or older can work, but not younger students. 

Tier 4 (General) students sponsored by a private provider, an embedded college, a publicly-funded college or an independent school cannot work but may be able to undertake work placements that are an assessed part of their course - see Work placements and internships. Tier 4 (General) students sponsored by an HEI to study a part-time postgraduate course must not undertake any work including work placements.

See also What kind of work can you do?How many hours can you work? and Employers, income tax, National Insurance.

How can you check that you are allowed to work?

Last modified: 04 December 2017

Check what your passport sticker (entry clearance or residence permit) or biometric residence permit (BRP) says. You should also have received detailed information in a letter when you received your entry clearance or BRP. You can work in the UK if your passport sticker or identity card says one of the following, or something similar:

  • Work (and any changes) must be authorised
  • Able to work as authorised by the Secretary of State
  • Work as in Tier 4 Rules
  • Restricted Work. P/T term time. F/T vacations
  • Restricted work term time
  • Work limited to max 20 hrs per week during term-time
  • Work limited to max 10 hrs per week during term-time.

Your passport sticker or identity card might say something a bit different from these examples, but you can work if it does not say:

  • No work, or
  • Work prohibited.

You must not work if your passport sticker or identity card says "No work" or "Work prohibited" because this would be a breach of your immigration conditions and a criminal offence. The Home Office can check whether someone has been working by making unannounced visits to employers and by obtaining information from the tax department, HMRC.

If you are allowed to work, find out more about the types of work you can do, your permitted hours of work and how to find employment.

Work before, after the course and in vacations

Last modified: 02 July 2018

Most Tier 4 students have immigration permission that starts up to one month before the course start date and extends for up to four months beyond the end of their studies.

Students who are allowed to work may work before the course starts and after it ends. This is confirmed in the Home Office's publication An employer's guide to right to work checks.

You can also work during your vacations, and you are not limited to working 10 or 20 hours a week in vacation periods. If you want to work more than your usual restricted hours, your employer is required by law to check that your education provider agrees that you are on holiday. For full information about this, see What is term time?

Students who are not allowed to work must not work in term time or during vacation periods.

For information about working with Tier 4 immigration permission after your course has ended, see Working after studies have ended. Details of many other work schemes that might be of interest to you are at Working after studies.

Work placements and internships

Last modified: 15 August 2018

Placements are an excellent way of obtaining work experience, especially if you are not otherwise allowed to take employment in the UK. The experience you gain can help you make decisions about your later career and is helpful when applying for jobs after your study.

You can usually do a work placement as part of your course even if you are not permitted to take employment. However, you are not allowed to do work placements if you are a part-time postgraduate student or  if your Tier 4 sponsor has probationary sponsor status and your course is below degree level.

What is a work placement or internship?

Can you change your mind about doing or not doing a work placement?

Taking a work placement outside the UK

Leaving or interrupting your studies

Last modified: 29 January 2019

You might have Tier 4 immigration permission (leave) that allows you to work, but you leave your course or take a break from it before you have completed it. This includes the situation where your Tier 4 sponsor withdraws sponsorship temporarily because you need to re-sit exams or repeat some of your course and do not need to be in the UK before you re-sit or repeat, or your sponsor might lose its licence.

In these situations, the Home Office will usually curtail your leave so it ends earlier. The Home Office publication, Employer's guide to right to work checks states that you may continue working until the new end date of your Tier 4 leave. If you submit another application before that leave expires, you should be able to continue working beyond this date.

For full details of when employers may and may not employ you in these and similar circumstances, see information under the heading, 'Impact of a change of circumstances on a Tier 4 points based system student's right to work' in the Home Office publication, Employer's guide to right to work checks.

Short-term student

Last modified: 29 January 2019

If you are in the UK as a short-term student, your passport sticker or the stamp in your passport will say "No work" or "Work prohibited". This means that you are not allowed to:

  • take paid employment
  • take unpaid employment
  • be self-employed
  • do a work placement, even if it is part of your course, unless it is a
    medical, veterinary or dentistry elective

If you want to be able to work, you must check that you meet all the requirements of the Tier 4 student Immigration Rules, which we describe in Tier 4: eligibility and requirements. If you meet these requirements and you want to apply as a student, you must return to the country where you usually live and make an entry clearance (visa) application there.  

Other types of immigration permission

Last modified: 18 September 2015

If you are in the UK with some other immigration status, check what your passport sticker or any other documents issued by the Home Office say about employment. You can usually work without restriction if the only condition in your passport is "No recourse to public funds". If it says "No employment as a dr in training", you can do any kind of work except employment as a doctor in training, which would usually be on the Foundation Programme.