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Whether you can work during your studies depends on what type of immigration permission you have. Your visa will say if you can work in the UK and, if so, how many hours per week during term time. It is very important that you follow the conditions of your visa and ensure that any work you may undertake does not interfere with the academic requirements of the course.

UKVI treats work restrictions very seriously. If you undertake any work that is not allowed or work more hours than you should, you will be considered to be in breach of your immigration conditions. This is a criminal offence and can have very serious consequences for you and for the university’s Tier 4 sponsor licence.

Please contact us if you are unclear about your working conditions or think they are incorrect. You must not work if your visa states “No work” or “Work prohibited”.

Frequently asked questions

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I am on a short-term study visa. Am I allowed to work?

If you have a short-term study visa, you are not permitted to take paid or unpaid employment nor are you able to undertake a work placement as part of your course.

What kind of work can I do as a Tier 4 (General) student?

Your Tier 4 (General) visa should state that you can work for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during official vacation periods. This is a maximum of 20 hours in total in any one week, including paid or unpaid work, and working for one or more organisations. The 20 hours cannot be averaged over a longer period.

A ‘week’ is defined by UKVI as a period of seven days beginning with a Monday.

It is important to understand that there are some restrictions on your employment if you have a Tier 4 (General) visa. You cannot:

  • be self-employed or engage in business activities (business activity includes working for a business, not as an employee – for example, as a contractor)

  • fill a permanent position (except as an elected Students’ Union sabbatical officer)

  • be employed as a professional sportsperson, including as a sports coach

  • be employed as a professional entertainer

  • set up a business, or be involved in the management of a business, for example, as a director

  • work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you are on the foundation programme

  • work more than the number of hours stated on your visa during term time under any circumstances.

The definition of a ‘professional sportsperson’ was amended on 10 January 2019. It is now only possible for a Tier 4 (General) student to work as an amateur sports coach or sportsperson in a charity event. Nothing else is allowed. 

What counts as "term time"?

Term dates are set by the university and will differ depending upon the programme of study. It is very important you check the official vacation dates for your programme before undertaking full-time work. Term dates are published on our web pages and cannot be amended.

Your employer should ask you to provide official written confirmation of the term dates as part of their ‘right to work’ checks. You can request the written confirmation from the International Advising Team.

For postgraduate students, the summer period is still considered to be term time, which means you cannot work full-time. Once the official course end date has passed (as listed on your CAS statement) you can work full time until your visa expires.

You can work full-time after your course end date on your CAS until your visa expires. 

Can I volunteer while studying?

You might want to be a volunteer during your time in the UK.

There is a difference between unpaid employment (voluntary work) and volunteering, and you should always check with the organisation which offers you a volunteering opportunity whether it can be regarded as unpaid employment. This is because time you spend doing unpaid employment counts towards your maximum number of hours of work a week.

The Tier 4 policy guidance confirms that Tier 4 students can volunteer and explains how UKVI differentiates between ‘voluntary work’ and ‘volunteering’. For example, volunteers do not have a contract and are not paid, though reasonable travel and living costs can be reimbursed. Volunteers usually help a charity, voluntary organisation or public sector organisation.

Will I need a National Insurance number?

You do not need a National Insurance number when you are looking for work but once you start a job you will need to apply. Information on applying for a National Insurance number can be found on the GOV.UK website.

What about my dependants?

If you have a Tier 4 dependent, they can take any type of employment, including self-employment, except as a doctor or dentist in training.


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