Student work

Last modified: 23 October 2020

On 5 October 2020, 'Tier 4 student leave' became 'Student' and 'Child student' permission. This change makes no difference to your work rights. 'Student' includes Tier 4 (General) and 'Child student' includes Tier 4 (Child). Short-term students are not included: see Short-term student visa

Most students aged 16 or older are allowed to work, even if you are limited to doing a course-related work placement. It is a great opportunity, not only to make some extra money, but also to experience working life in the UK, meet a wide range of people and enhance your career prospects. 

Work rights are a condition of your immigration permission. This means it is very important that you are clear about what you may and may not do. You must always comply with any restrictions, which are explained in some detail on this page and in the Home Office casework guidance - see our information about Student conditions for help in doing this.

Our blog, A working definition, provides answers to a lot of your frequently asked questions about work.  

Student permission can also be used to work as a Students' Union sabbatical officer during or after study, and as a doctor or dentist in training or under the doctorate extension scheme after study. For information about work and other immigration categories, see DependantsShort-term student visa and gov.uk.

Who can work and working hours

Last modified: 15 October 2020

Many, but not all, Students and Child students can work. This depends on the type of student sponsor you have - look at the Sponsor type and Status columns of the register of Student sponsors and select the relevant option below to find out more.

If you are allowed to work, you will be subject to maximum weekly hours in term time and you can work full time outside term time.  

"Week" means any 7-day period starting on a Monday, so if you work irregular hours and/or have more than one employer, you will need to keep detailed records of how many hours you work each day in order to ensure you do not exceed the limit.

"Term time" means the period when your student sponsor expects you to be studying, and "outside term time" means any other time, including the period before your course starts and after it ends., as well as holidays (vacation). Term dates are usually set out on an education provider's website or in the course information it gives you, and employers are required to check them.

Always check what your passport sticker (entry clearance) or biometric residence permit (BRP) says. You should also have received detailed information in a letter when you received your entry clearance or BRP. If you think there is an error, for example it says "No work" when you should be allowed to work, you must get it corrected before you take any employment - see how to do this in Errors on 30-day vignette and Errors on BRP.

You can find full details in the Home Office's publication for employers, An employer's guide to right to work checks.

The Home Office caseworker guidance, Student and Child Student, reproduces the work condition for Child Student as if it applies to Students. This is an error, and we have used the wording in the Immigration Rules Appendix ST paragraph ST 26.1.

Student sponsor with a track record

Overseas higher education institution

Independent school

Any other student sponsor

Work placements and internships

Last modified: 14 October 2020

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, Probationary sponsors are not allowed to sponsor you to study courses with work placements.

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

What kind of work can you do?

Last modified: 23 October 2020

If you are allowed to work during study, you can apply for and accept jobs in most types of paid role, at any level. Below, we have set out the types of work you must not do.

If you earn a relatively high amount, for example around £15,000 a year or more, the Home Office might question your working hours. There are no limits on what you may earn or on your hours of work in vacations and after study, but make sure you never exceed your maximum weekly working hours in term time, and do not let work interfere with making progress on your course.

Self-employment and business activities are not permitted. However, the guidance for Start-up and Innovator endorsing bodies states that Students are allowed to carry out preliminary activities such as writing business plans or negotiating contracts and they may incur pre-trading costs with a view to deciding whether to start a business under an immigration route such as Start-up, Innovator or the doctorate extension scheme - see Working after studies.

Our blog "A working definition" looks at many specific types of work opportunity, and whether the Student work restriction allows you to do them.

Volunteering 

Work you are not allowed to do

Work when you are no longer studying

Last modified: 14 October 2020

This information is of relevance to you if you are allowed to work during and outside term time, not if your work permission is limited to work placements. 

Most Students and Child students have immigration permission that extends beyond the end of their studies. You can work full time for this extra period once you have completed your course, but you may not be able to work at all if you have not finished your course. There are some exceptions from the usual restrictions if you make an immigration application to 'switch' into a work route.

You have completed your course

Moving into a work route

Leaving your course before completion or taking a break

Coronavirus (COVID-19) work concessions

Last modified: 14 October 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) work concessions

Some students are exempt from the usual Student work restrictions as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19) concessions set out in a Home Office publication:

Guidance for Student sponsors, migrants and short-term students on temporary concessions in response to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Students with work rights who are employed by an NHS Trust in one of a list of specified professions may work without limit on their hours, including in term time. 

Students whose study is suspended for Covid-related reasons are not limited to working 10 or 20 hours a week, even during a period that would usually be term time. Suspension of study means that your course is not running for a temporary time. It does not include time when you should be doing distance learning online.

If you are unable to study or take a work placement for a Covid-related reason, your student sponsor should not report you to the Home Office, so your immigration permission should remain in place and not be curtailed.

Employers can accept scanned copies of your documents that show you have a right to work.

The following links and documents provide further information and guidance:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for Tier 2, 5 and Student sponsors

Start-up and Innovator endorsing bodies: guidance

Work and financial support (aimed at all workers in the UK, so some information may not be relevant to you)

Business support (aimed at all self-employed people and business owners in the UK, so some information may not be relevant to you)


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