Blog: A working definition

Blog for students
01 June 2021
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Andrew Humphrey looks at some of the most common questions and conundrums about working with Student immigration permission. 

This blog post was fully updated on 1 June 2021, based on an earlier blog post from 2017. The information in it, all references to Immigration Rules and Home Office guidance, and the links to other websites and guidance were all current and accurate on 1 June 2021. If you are reading this blog post after 1 June 2021, please also see our full guide to working during your studies where any changes or updates to the work conditions will be clarified. On the site menu Choose Info & Advice > Working.


People like me who work in the education sector have been mostly or fully working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also have opportunities for self-employment and for voluntary work. Plus, the tools of entrepreneurship and e-commerce are at everyone's fingertips these days. For me personally, as well as my job as a freelance adviser and trainer I do some voluntary English teaching for a refugee charity and I am a volunteer tour guide in London's Chinatown, paid in food. So that’s all great for me, but what about you?

In this blog post I break down what the Student work conditions actually say. Then I look at some real-world contemporary examples of work that students may want to do, and how they fit in (or do not fit in) to those work conditions.

First, when I say "Student" I mean someone with permission (a visa) to be in the UK under the Student route, or under the Tier 4 route that it replaced. There are some very tiny differences between the work conditions under Tier 4 and the Student route, but they are so minimal that they are not worth breaking down here. If anything I write about here was different for people with Tier 4 permission compared to those with Student permission, I would say so.

Most Students can work up to 20 hours a week during term time, although some are restricted to 10 hours, and some have a work prohibition. Check your visa vignette or biometric residence permit for your work conditions, and see UKCISA's guide to working during your studies.

If you can work, I'm sure you are keen to maximise your opportunities for paid work, for gaining work experience, and for the other social and cultural benefits of working. But have changes in technology, communications, business practice and work culture in the UK that benefit me also expanded the work you can do? 

Yes. And no.

If you need to check whether a specific activity is allowed under your Tier 4 work conditions, it all starts with paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules which defines "employment" for all types of visa. It says that  “employment includes”:

  • paid and unpaid employment,

  • paid and unpaid work placements undertaken as part of a course or period of study

  • self employment

  • engaging in business or any professional activity

That word “includes” allows for other activities to be considered employment.  The specific types of employment that a Student can take are listed in the Immigration Rules Appendix Student, paragraphs ST 26.1 to 26.8. This says that you can take “No employment, except…”, followed by a list numbered (1) to (8) of what you can do. These paragraphs confirm that:

  • “[Paid and unpaid] employment” is fine, within your 20 (or 10) hours per week restriction during term-time, and with no time limit in vacations.

  • There is a prohibition on working in professional sports including coaching, and on working as an entertainer. 

  • You can work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist if you are on a recognised Foundation programme.
  • A work placement “assessed as an integral part of the course” is separate from other employment, so you can do both at the same time.

  • Being “self-employed” or “engaging in business activity” is not allowed. Being self-employed normally means you are not on the payroll but rather you manage your own workload, pay and tax. If you are doing the work as a freelancer, contractor or consultant you are highly likely to be self-employed. There is guidance on the website to help ascertain if you are self-employed. For "business activity" the Student route caseworker guidance gives three examples on page 95, including setting up as a sole trader. The three examples are “not an exhaustive list” but just some examples of "activities which meet the definition of a Student or Child Student engaging in business activity". 

  • You can work as a student union sabbatical officer, as well as other permitted work.

  • If you have applied to switch to the Skilled worker or Start-up route, you can start the specific work that is allowed under those schemes. This is not so for the Graduate route. For details see --> Working after studies.

Neither the Immigration Rules nor any related immigration guidance go into any further detail. This means that if your proposed employment does not fit securely into this definition, or if it is a "grey area", doing the work would be risky.  And what are the risks exactly?  Well, the Home Office treats work conditions very seriously.  They can remove you from the UK if you work too many hours or if you do work that you are not allowed to do. If you are removed, you may face a ban on re-entry for a certain period of time. The employer also faces penalties. Strictly speaking, your university or college is also obliged to report to the Home Office any students who are working illegally.

As an international student adviser, I am obliged to warn you about these dangers of illegal working, but please do not panic. 

First, stay focused on your current main purpose in the UK: full-time study.  

Second, remember that a Student visa specifically and explicitly does provide opportunities for work, but in effect just the sort of part-time and vacation work that international students have done for many generations. While this can be frustrating, it is very important to not take risks. It may seem preposterous for me to warn you against trading on eBay or babysitting, as I do below, but that is only because the Immigration Rules and guidance lack any nuance about work that does not fall fair and square into standard part-time and vacation work for an employer. 

Third, beware of taking advice about working from other students or from people on internet message boards. For a professional student immigration adviser like me it is worrying and discouraging to see students asking anonymous strangers online for immigration advice when they have access to trained, professional and FREE immigration advice at their university.  Your international student adviser is always the best source of information about any aspect of student immigration and visas, and they always have your best interests at heart. See also UKCISA's detailed guide to working during your studies.

What follows are some types of work that students ask about, and my replies about whether it is safe to do them within the Student work conditions. In every case I am referring back to the definitions above. 

A quick note about income tax in the UK:  income tax is normally deducted by your employer from your wages or salary under the Pay As You Earn scheme. If you receive income from other sources, for example tips, rent from a property you own, or other one-off payments this income may be liable for income tax.  For more details see the UK government's guide to who needs to file a tax return.

COVID-19 concession to allow working more than 20 hrs during term-time

There is only one meaningful concession, and it is for NHS staff. Students employed by an NHS Trust in one of 18 specific professions may work more than 20 hours a week during term-time until 30 September 2021. They must also continue to study as directed by their Sponsor. For the list of professions and more details about this concession see paragraph 3.13 of the guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): Student sponsors, migrants and short-term students, and the section "If you're working for the NHS" in Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for visa applicants and temporary UK residents.

A second and much rarer concession is explained in paragraph 3.14, and it applies where a Sponsor institution "suspends all study on [your] course as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak". In that case it is considered as your vacation time, and you may work more than 20 hours. Suspending all study would be rare. It means the course has stopped. It is not the same thing as switching study from face-to-face to distance learning, nor is it just that you do not have any timetabled classes for a while, for example during a dissertation period. If any kind of participation or activity is required, your course is not suspended. If in doubt, ask your Sponsor.

There are no other COVID-related concessions allowing Students to work more than 20 hours a week during term-time. Until term-time ends, you are limited to the normal 20 or 10 hours restriction shown on your BRP or vignette, regardless of the current required attendance on your course.

"Gig economy" jobs:  Uber, Deliveroo, DPD, MyHermes, etc.

In February 2021 the UK Supreme Court found that Uber drivers are employees, not self-employed. You can read the Court's ruling here. This ruling will have future implications for all so-called "gig economy" workers, which the Fairwork website has discussed in detail.

For now, the key matter for a Student is that you can only be employed, not self-employed. If you are thinking of doing a gig economy job, it is important that you are clear about which you are. Speak directly to the company in question. 


You cannot work (paid or unpaid) as an entertainer. “Entertainer” is not defined in the Immigration Rules, but the Home Office's Business Help desk has stated (in an email dated 3 September 2015) that "We take it to mean … taking part in entertainment in any way other than as an amateur".  "Amateur" is defined in the Immigration Rules at paragraph 6 and it means “solely for personal enjoyment and not seeking to derive a living from the activity”. Therefore acting or performing as an amateur or just as a hobby is not working as an entertainer, and you can do it.  

There is also an exception for any performance that is an assessed part of your course. This is a concession contained in the Student route caseworker guidance only (paragraph 6.8), not in the Immigration Rules.

See the separate information below on performing in television talent shows.

Resident warden “on call”

If your total number of hours on duty, including overnight, are within your weekly maximum 10 or 20 hours anyway (including any other paid or unpaid work you are doing), that is fine.

However if counting all the hours on call, including any when you are not actively working or even asleep, would take you over your weekly 10 or 20 hour maximum, we advise that you get individual advice from both the Housing Services and the Human Resources departments at the university before accepting the job. The university may consider the whole on-call period as your working hours and pay you accordingly, or they may not.

In 2016 the Human Resources magazine Personnel Today published an interesting article about this issue, including links to relevant Employment Appeal Tribunal cases.

Selling on eBay, Amazon, Etsy, at car boot sales, etc.

Anyone can sell their unwanted items, but if you are making or buying items in order to sell them, hopefully for a profit, this is "trading" and it would be self-employment.

Check the UK government's guidance on working for yourself says that “you’re probably not trading if you sell some unwanted items occasionally or you don’t plan to make a profit” and that online selling becomes “trading” if you sell or make items for profit or if you “sell online, at car boot sales or through classified adverts on a regular basis”.  The information says “If you start working for yourself, you’re classed as a sole trader. This means you’re self-employed - even if you haven’t yet told HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).”


Volunteering does not count towards your maximum 10 or 20 hours if it meets the definition of volunteering in the Student route caseworker guidance (page 96):

Volunteers do not have a contract, they must not be a substitute for an employee, and they must not be doing unpaid work – for example, receiving payment in kind (although they are sometimes reimbursed for reasonable travel and subsistence expenses). [...] Volunteers usually help a charity or voluntary or public sector organisation.

Any other kind of unpaid or voluntary work that does not meet this definition will count towards your weekly 10 or 20 hours maximum.

The national Student Volunteering Week takes place every February. 

Online business, e-commerce

You cannot run a business at all while you are a Student in the UK. The Immigration Rules give no exceptions for online businesses or for businesses where the clients are outside the UK.

Passive income: affiliate marketing, clicks on your YouTube videos, sponsored Instagram, etc.

While this is not one of the three named examples of “business activity” in the Student route caseworker guidance (page 95), it would reasonably be defined as a business activity, so it is best not do it while you are in the UK.

Someone who has become a YouTube celebrity after studying in the UK is Seong-jae Kong, known as Korean Billy. At our annual conference a couple of years ago Billy spoke to UKCISA about his time as an international student in the UK and how it has inspired his new career.

Working for an employer outside the UK

If you personally are physically outside the UK, any conditions of a UK visa you hold are irrelevant, including the work conditions. The UK government has no jurisdiction over and no interest in your work activites when you are not even in the UK.

You will of course need check what are your work rights in the specific country where you are working.

However any work you do when you are physically in the UK, for example working for a non-UK employer remotely or doing a "virtual internship" with them, counts towards your weekly 10 or 20 hour maximum. This is because the Student work restriction has no specific exception for work undertaken for an employer who is outside the UK.

Digital nomad

A digital nomad is someone who harnesses technology, the internet and portals like Fiverr to create a freelance online working life that disregards coventional work factors like a workplace. They may even spend time living in different countries, either making a living from freelance work conducted and sourced online, or through sources of "passive income".

This a very attractive idea in theory, and technology makes it perfectly feasible, but in reality it is only possible if your immigration status in the country where you are staying allows you to do freelance work. Your Student work conditions do not allow it, so you cannot be a digital nomad while you are living in the UK.

Owning or dealing in shares, currencies and cryptocurrencies

This blog is about restrictions on working. Your Student visa does not restrict what you can buy or own, including shares and property. However some activity in these areas may be seen as "business activity".

You can buy and own shares, but if you own more than 10% of the shares in the company (including if they are held in trust for you) you cannot work for the company.  This is one of the specific examples of “business activity” in the Student route caseworker guidance (page 95).

If you regularly buy and sell stocks, shares or currency in order to make money, this is highly likely to be seen as “business activity”, which seems reasonable. You might want to keep such holdings in "hold" mode while you are a Student.

If you make a dividend income from shares you own, you must pay income tax on this income.

Neither the Immigration Rules nor any related guidance makes any specific provision for cryptocurrencies. It would be logical and safest to assume that mining and active trading is a “business activity”.

Separately, HMRC has published dedicated guidance on how "cryptoassets" including bitcoin or cryptocurrency are taxed.

Direct sales and party plans: Amway, Avon, Tupperware, Thermomix, etc.

Consultants, Managers, Directors and Distributors for direct sales companies are self-employed, so you cannot do it.  Such companies will not check your right to work because they are not your employer. They leave it to the individual consultant to monitor their own self-employment and any attached responsibilities, including whether their immigration status allows them to do the work.

Income from owning a property

Anyone of any nationality and any immigration status can buy and own property in the UK.

If you rent out your property, you must pay income tax on the income you receive from rent. Furthermore, renting out a property or buying a property as an investment could be seen as a business activity. I advise you get professional immigration advice before doing it. 

Television talent shows, media appearances and contests of skill

The issues here are (1) whether you working as an entertainer (see above), and (2) is it employment anyway? You will need to get advice about it from the provider of the opportunity.

In this tabloid newspaper article about a Chinese couple who entered the "Britain's Got Talent" contest the producers of that specific programme say that participating in the contest is not considered employment and that winning the cash prize is not payment for employment.

If you decide to enter a contest that involves skills or performing, whether it is televised or not, check at an early stage whether the organisers have the same view that it is not employment. Of course, you will also need to check whether your academic schedule allows you the time to participate. 

It is possible that a paid or compensated appearance on television or in other media may be seen as a "business activity".  However international students do sometimes participate in the popular academic television quiz show University Challenge. A popular recent contestant was Eric Monkman, a postgraduate student from Canada. Monkman later returned to the UK to do a journalism internship and during this time (presumably now with a work visa) he was able to work on the BBC Radio 4 programme Monkman and Seagull's Polymathic Adventure.

Writing and publishing

When you formally publish your writing or other written or visual work, including self-publishing, you are usually hoping that that people will buy it and that you will earn some money. Therefore it is highly likely to be seen as a business activity and you may not do it under the Student work conditions.

To avoid this, if you want to publish your writing or other work purely as an artistic expression or leisure activity or to share it with the public, do it through a (non-monetised) blog, social media or personal website. 

Focus groups, clinical trials

When you take part in a focus group, clinical trial or other similar experiment you are normally given some cash and usually some food and drink. The organisers will need to check your identity, usually your passport, but this is for their own statistical monitoring. They do not need to check of your right to work because they do not consider it work, but "paid volunteering".

However, it would not meet the narrow definition of "volunteering" in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance (see above), so it does count towards your weekly maximum permitted working hours.

And while it is not self-employment, HMRC advises that payments for taking part in very well-paid clinical trials could be seen as income that is liable for tax:

There will be no tax or [national insurance] liability arising on the individual if the sums received do no more than reimburse the individual’s reasonable costs of participating in the trial or research, including costs of travel and subsistence.

However should the sums paid exceed those reasonable expenses then the excess may fall to be chargeable to tax as Miscellaneous Income, potentially giving rise to personal tax liabilities of the individuals which should be notified to the Inland Revenue under Self Assessment.

Babysitting or dog-walking

Missing your young relatives? Wish you could have a pet in your student housing?

You can do dog-walking or babysitting while you are in the UK, but under the Student work restriction you can only do it unpaid.  This might seem disproportionate or overly strict, but remember that providing any service for payment, including babysitting, dog-walking or anything paid “cash in hand” is likely to be seen as self-employment or, at the very least, a "business activity".

My advice is treat these activities not as paid work but as a social opportunity and as a chance to experience aspects of the local culture away from your student life.

If you miss your young relatives, why not offer to babysit for free.  Think of the non-financial benefits: it's a fun and interesting opportunity to meet some local families and children and see how they live. Plus free WiFi and snacks usually come as standard.

Student housing normally does not normally allow pets, but the website connects you with local dogs who need walking and company, or where the owner just wants to give non-pet owners the chance to spend time with their dog. Walking a dog may give you an insight into the British public that you do not normally see, especially in cities: people will smile, stop to pet the dog, and ask you its name, breed, age, etc. I am a borrower with BorrowMyDoggy, and through them I have a great relationship with a Staffordshire bull terrier called Roxy.


Andrew Humphrey is a freelance adviser and trainer.

Comments are closed.


11 December 2021
Hypothetically, am I allowed to provide tech services in the UK and to UK based clients, although the company is registered/incorporated in India? Please note that the company will be registered in my name making me the founder of the company while at the same time I am studying on a Tier 4 visa in the UK (graduating in 2022). Will also employ people of various nationalities. Although this instance isn't directly addressed by you, I have inferred that it is likely prohibited under the current T&C. However, would still love to hear your opinion on it. Thanking you.

13 December 2021
I cannot see any doubt that this would be business activity, Sam.
06 December 2021
If someone work for the first time on Sunday in one company and shift to another employer and worked on Thursday and Friday. Will that Sunday count on previous week or same week? As per ukcisa working condition, week refers to Monday to Sunday. Does it exceed on working hour per week or not. Please clarify this confusion.
09 December 2021
The work conditions of a Student visa are not UKCISA's rules. They are laid out in the UK government's immigration rules and related guidance.

As you say, the working week (as in "20 hours per week") runs Monday to Sunday. The clock counting the 20 hours returns to zero on Monday.
George Mathew
04 December 2021
Hi Is it okay to do part time work for Two Employers by maintaining the 20hour Restriction
09 December 2021
If this was an issue, you can be sure it would have been covered in the blog!
04 December 2021
I am worried that because I work in a restaurant that if they give me tips or bonuses it will look like I have worked longer than 20 hours a week because my contract is per hour. Can anyone advise?
09 December 2021
Not sure what you mean by what it will "look like", and to whom. Presumably you and your employer have access to records of your shifts and pay, and you are both are clear that you have worked within the conditions. There is no restriction on what you can be paid, only on what hours you can work during term-time. See also the comment by Hardworker on 10 Jan 2018.
Aryan C
08 November 2021
"If you regularly buy and sell stocks, shares or currency in order to make money, this is highly likely to be seen as “business activity”, which seems reasonable. You might want to keep such holdings in "hold" mode while you are a Student." How often does regularly imply, is it daily weekly or on a monthly basis?
19 November 2021
Doing this with any kind of regularity would seem to be "business activity".
Jagmeet sran
04 November 2021
I want to ask you . We are international students in uk and we have permission to work 20 hours but , if we do any online work like : investment on any trade or bitcoin and we earn money from those platform so , is this not effect on our visa status? Because, online works like : bitcoin or trade those type of work are not according to hours and they they don’t ask about national insurance no. And that platform to invest money then earn money from that our own investment so , do we have permission for these type of work ? And my second question : if any international student is working 20 hours at any place example : hotel , restaurant, shop or etc . But , as well as that student is earning by online site like : bitcoin or trade . Is that legal or no ?
19 November 2021
This is already covered in the blog post, Jagmeet,
Pavan Bandaru
28 October 2021
Can I work for an IT Company as an International Student? Since I have some experience which I want to utilize for 20 hrs part time.
19 November 2021
The only types of work you cannot do are covered in the blog post, Pavan
D T N Bhanu Vijay
08 September 2021
Are Christmas holidays and winter vacation same?
19 November 2021
Different universities may have different names for vacations, Bhanu, but clearly they are all vacations not term-time.
Chibuike Ibeabuchi
29 August 2021
Does being an international student who is in the UK for a part-time (2 years) postgraduate taught study affect the chances of having 20 working hours in a week?
19 November 2021
Yes. This is covered in this website's Student work pages.
23 August 2021
As an employer I have an oversees Placement Student on a Tier 4 Visa who has started with my company (12 month placement) Due to ongoing Covid advice, our company policy is that ALL our offices are closed and ALL staff are to remain working remotely until November. I am being told by the University that my placement is studying that if she does not return to the office (actually 'On Site') by September 27th 2021 she will be prevented from a placement year with employment? Is this true and how can we support her if OUR policy is to work remotely due to safety ? We are a Fortune 500 Company and cannot make exceptions to safety and open up a site for one person.
19 November 2021
This is a matter for the student to discuss with the university sponsoring their visa, Steve.
Tanvir Ahmed
22 August 2021
I just want to know can an International student be a trustee of a charitable organization such as a Social enterprise or Community Interest Company (CIC)?
19 November 2021
It depends whether it is work or not. That is a question for the organisation in question.
21 August 2021
Hello. I moved to Nottingham to live with relatives after completing my studies in Edinburgh University in early Autumn 2020.

While with relatives, I did some babysitting that was paid. I only told my University's Graduation Team that I will be living with relatives in Nottingham after completing my studies so that they can mail me my parchment and transcript there. I did not tell them about the paid babysitting. Neither was I contacted by the University in any way afterwards

Also, I forgot to inform the Home Office about my Change of Address thinking that my Uni must have informed them about it. Right now, I am back in Qatar (I took a flight prior to my visa expiring in March 21).

Do you believe I will have trouble with the Home Office if I apply for another student visa next year?
19 November 2021
Ahmed, you need to get advise from your university about this.
16 August 2021
I am currently 2 month into my a-year-long placement, however, my team currently work remotely due to covid. My University insists I move to face-to-face placement by September 27 so as to meet the tier 4 check. However, this won't benefit me professionally as the whole of my team will still be remote and my duty is what I can do remotely (in fact my contract stated remote work) and this will mean I go to the office while my manager and colleagues that I could benefit from work remotely.
Please can you advise on the alternative step to take at this point?
19 November 2021
Segun, your employer Steve appears to have also posted this question here. This is a matter for you to clarify with the university sponsoring your visa.
12 August 2021
Just a quick query, share dealing, currency trading if you outright own them and trade them would be seen as as ‘business activity’ but if you trade ‘CFDs’ it is classified as gambling, this shouldn’t be a breach? Gambling gains are also untaxed
19 November 2021
This blog post is about the Student visa conditions on working. There are no visa conditions about gambling.
Rishabh Chauhan
01 August 2021
On a study visa, A student is allowed for how many years to work in UK after completion of his/her graduation or post graduation.
19 November 2021
This blog post is about working during your studies. There is a separate area of this website on Working After Studies.
27 July 2021
I bought stocks few months ago now i want that money I’m in need can i take that money out and sell the stock would it be trading because I bought these few months ago like 3 4 months ? Is this business activity because it’s not continuous trading like per week or per month taking money out it’s just once in 5 months is it allowed ?
19 November 2021
This is covered in the blog post, Khushal
22 July 2021
I apologize for my previous comment. I did not read your requirements closely enough (it's early here in the states and I have not had my coffee yet) and I asked a question about a specific role. You can ignore it.
22 July 2021
I was wondering if you could possibly shed more light on the "self employed" status of jobs such as working on a film set. This is what I am going to school for (and have known several students through my previous course who did work on shoots on a tier 4) but it is a weird area of being both self employed (as in you are technically a freelancer) AND being employed by a company for a temporary position. I know this is a quite specific scenario, but was curious this was something you knew more about.
14 July 2021
Thank you all for such informative content. I work for an employer outside of the UK. They are supportive of me undertaking my studies in the UK and they are aware I would have to cut down my hours to work part-time. That said, I was hoping you could provide some insight on tax implications, but primarily, whether I would be able to continue to be contracted through the US whilst being UK-based, or would I need to transfer my contract. Appreciate your time and consideration in advance.
19 November 2021
This blog is only about the work conditions of a Student visa. We do not have any expertise in income tax matters.
08 February 2018
I am planning to come to uk on a tier 4 visa for an English language course.I plan to spread bet on CFD markets and sports once I come there.Can I do it?
09 February 2018
As I say above, Sudhakar: "Please do not post comments asking for individual advice, or asking for a ruling on whether a specific job or activity can be done under the Tier 4 work restriction. We can only refer you back to the information above or to our general information on work during studies. For individual advice please contact your international student adviser or our student advice line."
06 February 2018
Dear Andrew,

Thank you writing such an useful blog.

Towards my understanding, if I hold less than 10% share in a company as Tier 4 student; I won't violate my visa regulations?

and can I do forex trading as the forex trading falls under gambling law in the UK (heard that in one learn2trade seminar)?

Kindly enlighten me if I am wrong as I am a bit confused on this area and I am praying for your expert advice on this matter.
06 February 2018
Thank you Martin, I am glad you found the blog useful. I think the information above for Tier 4 visa holders about owning shares, and about trading in shares and foreign currencies, is as clear and complete as it can be under the current Rules and guidance.

I can't give one-to-one advice here, except to reiterate that it is important to stay focused on your studies and to avoid trying to undertake what could easily be seen as business activities.
Krishna kumar
02 February 2018
good day sir
Can i do a retail shop's delivery job by driving my own car with indian licence. I have tier 4 visa,10 hrs in term time, 33 yrs old, NI number, 3rd party insurance.
05 February 2018
As I say above Krishna, "Please do not post comments asking for individual advice, or asking for a ruling on whether a specific job or activity can be done under the Tier 4 work restriction. We can only refer you back to the information above or to our general information on work during studies. For individual advice please contact your international student adviser or our student advice line."
11 January 2018
Me again! I happened upon umbrella companies in my research. Technically, if you sign up for one, you're classed as an employee of this 'umbrella company'. Is this also not permitted?

I don't find it all that fair that international students pay so much to be in the UK, yet are so limited in terms of finances and employment opportunities.
12 January 2018
Given your ongoing queries about part-time work under your Tier 4 visa, Danielle, I recommend you get advice from the international student adviser at your university.

Only self-employment, business activity and professional work are prohibited. You need a work visa for that, not a student visa. This is not a UK phenomenon: most countries restrict work for student visa holders and some prohibit all work.
10 January 2018
So much valuable information present here. Really nice.!
I really like the comment which S has made regarding expenses being paid by the employer. I am in the same situation where I work for two employers. One employer pays me per week and according to the hours I work, plus expenses for my food and travel (for a full month) because my managers likes my work ethos and efficiency.
On the other hand I work for another firm, where I work weekly hours which are paid monthly. For example, beginning on January I was told that I will work 4 hours per week for 14 weeks, but the salary will be paid in 4 months. Is this okay? Will it not cause confusion with the payslips and the number of hours worked?
10 January 2018
As with S above, the only relevant issue is that both you and your employers are clear about how many hours per week you can work under the Tier 4 conditions, and that you always work within that. What, how and when you are paid are not relevant.
10 January 2018
very good article indeed. it would be great to add regarding expenses or support which and employer or a business can do to help students. for eg if a student works part-time at a firm and the manager really likes the student and on top of the part time salary pays for employees travel and lunch. is that okay?
Also if a student works 2 jobs at two different places. and manages his/her hours in a detailed manner, is that okay too?
10 January 2018
Thank you, I'm glad you liked the blog. If the Rules and guidance put restrictions on how you are paid, what you are paid for, or the number of jobs you can do, I would have included that here, and we would cover them in our detailed guidance at Info & Advice > Working. Good luck with your job-hunting.
05 January 2018
Thanks for this helpful article. I recently applied and was offered a 2 hr per week job for a charity to do their website/ social media, which I thought would be perfect being on the T4 visa. However, once I took a look at the contract, which was a consultancy agreement, I knew I had to flag it up with them. I'm not sure if there is any flexibility on the employers side, but I thought I'd ask wether there is there a way around this? Any options at all? Thanks in advance.
08 January 2018
Danielle, if they specifically want someone to work on that consultancy basis, with you invoicing them for your work and handling your own tax, then you cannot do it because that is self-employment. Perhaps you can ask them if you can be employed as part-time staff, and be paid (and taxed) through their payroll. See Working > What kind of work can you do? > Self-employment and business activity and/or speak to your international student adviser.
Crypto lover
03 January 2018
I'll be traveling to the Uk this January on a Tier4 visa to study at a business school . I am a cryptocurrency trader and this is really a part of me as a person. I just happened to read this post and found out that even buying these currencies might be illegal just because I am paying a lot of money to study in the UK!!!!!!
Honestly, I knew that I am not supposed to be self employed but I had no idea that I can't buy and sell things ! I mean bitcoin is a thing you buy . Isn't it ?
I might have chosen another country to apply to if I was aware that a part of me as a person will be illegal being known as self employment !!!
I am really confused . I have paid my whole tuition fee (More than 20K ) as well as the students hall rent and as my Visa has been granted I can't claim any of that back.
I am just so disappointed and angry . It is seems really impossible for me to just give up the market because I am going to study for a year. Any Cryptocurrency trader knows what I am saying. It is a nightmare !
What if I only buy the cryptocurrencies and don't sell them? Will it still be a sort of trade ?
Are these limits only applied to me in the UK ? I mean will it be legal to buy bitcoin via the Internet from another country without having my UK bank account engaged ?
04 January 2018
Thank you for your comment. The blog was written to highlight these issues. I can only reiterate that with the Rules and guidance as they are, trading in cryptocurrency could reasonably be seen a "business activity" and it is therefore risky to do it while you are in the UK with a Tier 4 visa. As with owning shares, it would be best to adjust to a "hold" mode. Perhaps it's something you and other students can discuss with relevant staff at your school, perhaps with a view to lobbying the government for change.
14 December 2017
Hey there, great article posted. But I still find my situation are not listed in the blog above.
I would like to focus on eBay paragraph. I do sell regularly on eBay, but it come to my attention that I might violate my Tier 4 Visa. I'm in deep confusion and hope you'll clear some for me. As I mentioned, I do have a noticeable amount of sales traffic on eBay, but I'm selling my unwanted items all the time. Im am impulsive buyer and I buy in bulks, use it and not interested in anymore. So instead of staking up my living space, I sell it on eBay. With the amount that I'm buying, I do sell often. So my question is, do I fall in trading because I do sell often but I can prove I don't make a profit from it? Will I get into trouble with the amount of sales I'm engage in?
15 December 2017
I'm glad you enjoyed the blog post, Cathmor. Whether you are "trading" is not defined by any specific number of eBay sales or listings, or on whether you make a profit or loss on your sales. It's for you to monitor and manage whether you are trading. If it is becoming like a re-sale business, perhaps you can curb your buying, and hence curb your selling!
08 December 2017
Does tutoring in math count as illegal ?
11 December 2017
The blog covers which areas of work are prohibited, and covers self-employment. For any further advice, please speak to the International Student Adviser at your university.
03 December 2017
Can International Students work in UberEats?
04 December 2017
Please read the blog post again, Jasper. There is specific guidance on "gig economy" jobs.
28 November 2017
This is actually a really good article! It can be quite difficult to find accurate and useful information on this subject so this is genuinely really great!
29 November 2017
Delighted it was useful to you, Izzy.
25 November 2017

I have few bitcoins which i want to cash out, can i do that using my current bank account?
or will it be considered a business activity??

27 November 2017
The blog already covers trading in currencies and Bitcoin mining. As we say, neither the rules nor the guidance address these matters specifically, so it is safest to assume it is a business activity.
18 October 2017
Can I buy cryptocurrencies here in UK with tier 4 visa status.
18 October 2017
A work restriction on your visa does not prevent you simply buying or owning things or products. However buying and selling anything in order to make money would reasonably be a "business activity", which is not allowed. I cover this in the sections above on Selling on eBay, amazon, Etsy, etc., Income from owning a property, Owning or dealing in shares, and Bitcoin mining.
16 October 2017
Hello , thanks for these useful information , I would like to know which vacations we can work with no time limit , thanks
16 October 2017
See our detailed guidance at Working > How many hours can you work? > What is term-time? Your university can advise on what there the specific term-dates (and hence vacation dates)
05 October 2017
This was really helpful. I commend the writer for this effort and addressing real issues affecting tier 4 migrants in this millenium.

-tier 4 student
09 October 2017
I'm delighted you found it useful Sen. Here at UKCISA we encourage all students to maximise their opportunities in the UK, including working during their studies if they wish to.
16 August 2017
Are all these rules applying for the (Tier4 dependant) visa holders also ?
30 August 2017
No, this post is specifically about the Tier 4 work restriction. Someone with a different types of visa, including PBS Dependant, should check the specific work conditions or restrictions which are printed on their visa vignette or biometric residence permit.
07 June 2017
Hi, i worked as an moderator for a GCSE language speaking exam. I just sent an invoice to the school for the payment, but the payment has not been processed yet. Having read this article, am i right to think that this would count as a self-employed work? Thanks
12 June 2017
We cannot give one-to-one advice here Salih. Please contact your international student adviser for advice.