Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Employment during and after your studies

Section 2: What type of ‘work’ can I do? What type of ‘work’ is prohibited?

The conditions of a Student visa dictate that you must not:

  • Fill a full-time permanent vacancy
  • Be self-employed or engaged in a business activity *
  • Be employed as a doctor or dentist in training (unless on a recognised Foundation Programme)
  • Be employed as a professional sportsperson or entertainer **

* “Engagement in a business activity” is defined in the Student Visa Policy Guidance (page 93)Link opens in a new window as ‘they are working for a business in which they have a financial or other significant beneficial interest in a capacity other than as an employee. Some examples which would be considered to be engaging in business activity are below. This is not an exhaustive list, but provides examples of activities which meet the definition of a Student or Child Student engaging in business activity:

Please note this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Setting up a business as a sole trader or under a partnership arrangement and that business is either trading or establishing a trading presence
  • Being employed by a company in which you hold shares of 10% or more, including where the shares are held in trust for you
  • Working for a company where you also hold a statutory role, such as a “director.”

You might find it useful to read the UKCISA blog 'A Working definition'Link opens in a new window which talks about the different types of work and whether each might be permitted for Student visa holders.

** You are considered to be a professional sportsperson if you are engaging in any of the following activity:

  • providing services as a sportsperson, playing or coaching in any capacity, at a professional or semi-professional level of sport
  • receiving payment, including payment in kind, for playing or coaching that is covering all, or the majority of, their costs for travelling to, and living in the UK
  • being registered to a professional or semi-professional sports team - this includes all academy and development team age groups
  • representing a national team within the previous 2 years, including all youth and development age groups from under 17’s upwards
  • representing a state or regional team within the previous 2 years, including all youth and development age groups from under 17’s upwards
  • established an international reputation in their chosen field of sport
  • engage an agent or representative, with the aim of finding opportunities as a sportsperson, and/or developing a current or future career as a sportsperson, or have engaged such an agent in the last 12 months;
  • engaging an agent or representative, with the aim of finding opportunities as a sportsperson, and/or developing a current or future career as a sportsperson

Section 3: How many hours can I work?:

Work means any work that you do when you are physically in the UK, even if you work for an overseas employer.

Where you are following a course of degree level study or above, excluding a foundation degree, the following work is usually allowed - Always check your Visa Vignette or BRP card first in case there is an error on it:

  • Part-time during term-time, that is, no more than 20 hours per week, which is defined by the Home Office as Monday to Sunday
  • Full-time before the course start date and after the course end date on your CAS
  • Full-time during vacations (out of term) - This does not apply to Postgraduate students - see below
  • Full time on a work placement provided that it is an assessed part of the course and is not more than 50% of the total length of the course

Where you are following a course of study below degree level, including a foundation degree, the following work is usually allowed - Always check your Visa Vignette or BRP card first in case there is an error on it:

  • Part-time during term time, that is, no more than 10 hours per week which is defined by the Home Office as Monday to Sunday
  • Full-time during vacations
  • Full time on a work placement as an assessed part of a course

Please note: The UKVI calculates working hours from Monday to Sunday hence you have to make sure that you do not exceed 20 hours within Monday to Sunday. The 20 hours limit is for all work you under take (regardless of multiple employers) all the work should not exceed over 20 hours.

Self employment (including working as a freelance) is not permitted.

Section 4: What are the sanctions for "illegal working"?:

Working illegally is classed as a criminal offence.

The student visa holder may be sent to prison for up to 6 months, fined up to £5,000, liable to be deported and banned from returning to the UK for up to 10 years.

Employers who knowingly allow a Student Visa holder to work more than the total hours permitted are also eligible for criminal sanctions, and risk fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker. The employers Sponsor Licence, if held, may be downgraded or even removed, depending on the severity of the breach.

Section 5: Specific information for students on Pre-sessional English course/ visiting students:

If you hold a Student Visa and are enrolled on a course of study that is taught outside of the regular University term dates, for example the 6 or 10-week pre-sessional English course, you should refer to the course start and end dates on your CAS and not work more than the number of hours permitted by the conditions of your leave during this period. This advice also applies to visiting students with a Student Visa who are enrolled outside of the normal University term dates. You may work full time before the course start date and after the course end date mentioned on your CAS.

PEPS students and Visiting/Exchange Students who are enrolled on Visitor Visas are prohibited from undertaking any kind of work during their stay in the UK.

If you hold a Student iVsa, it may be possible to undertake a period of 'work placementLink opens in a new window', during which time you can work full time, if your academic department considers this to be an 'integral and assessed' part of your course - this is limited to no more than 50% of the total duration of your study in the UK and cannot usually be undertaken as the final year of study. You should approach your academic department for further guidance in the first instance.

Section 6: Undergraduate students taking full time summer internship before the end of Term 3:

If you are an Undergraduate (Bachelor's) student and have secured a summer internship which starts before the end of the summer term, then you can request a letter from us confirming that you have completed and submitted all the work and exams for the current academic year. This letter can then be used as an evidence to your employer that you are permitted to start your internship before the end of summer term.

Please be aware that the earliest your can start your internship is three weeks before the end of summer term. If you make a request for a letter to start an internship any earlier than this, it will automatically be deleted.

Example: If summer term ends on Saturday 02 Jul 2022, you may start your Internship on either 12 June 2022 or whenever you have completed all requirements of the academic year - whichever date is later.

To request a letter from us:

  1. You will need a confirmation from your employer about the dates of your internship (you will have to provide us the internship offer letter)
  2. A Letter/Email from your department confirming the date by which you will have finished all the requirements (sat all exams, presented all work) of the academic year.

Once you have the above confirmations, you will need to attach them in the request for a letter via filling in the form available at: UG intern letter.

Section 7: Specific information for students on a Postgraduate Taught course (for example, Master's degree):

For Master's degree students, regardless of the length of the Master's course i.e. 1, 2, 3 years, the University term dates are irrelevant.

A Master's degree student with a Student Visa is only entitled to work full time (more than 20 hours per week), before the course start date and after the course end date has passed (subject to the exception below).

For work purposes, a Student Visa holder's course end date is the one which is:

  • Stated on the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) which was used to obtain the current student visa, or
  • The revised course end date in the case of academic extension by the recommendation of the Board of Examiners

After the official course end date, a student can work full-time provided that it is on a temporary or rolling contract and not a permanent position.

If an employer requires confirmation that your course has ended, you can evidence this by self-downloading your student status letter from Student Records Online.

Exception

The official course end date which was stated on the CAS cannot be brought forward, however, for work purposes, once all exams have been sat and all work submitted, students will be able to request a letter confirming that:

  • The student has sat all exams and submitted all the work towards the degree, and
  • The student is considered as 'out of term time' and thus permitted to work full time from the official dissertation/project submission deadline (even if they submitted the final piece of work earlier).

The earliest you can start work/request a letter is within 4 weeks of the official course end date.

Example: If the course end date is 30 Sep 2022, the earliest you can start work and get this letter would be 02 Sep 2022.

    • You DO NOT need to request a letter from Student Immigration if the course end date on your student record and your CAS have passed. You can evidence your right to work full-time by self-downloading your student status letter from Student Records Online

This letter can only be requested by a member of staff from your academic department who will confirm the dissertation/project submission deadline and that you have completed all the work towards your degree. The form for department staff to complete can be accessed by clicking hereLink opens in a new window . Once produced, this letter can be used to show your employer that you are permitted to work more than 20 hours per week if your course end date/CAS end date has not yet passed.

Employers who have stricter rules about when you can start working full time

We are aware that some employers, including Unitemps and the University of Warwick, will prefer to wait until a student's degree has been conferred before they lift the restriction on the number of hours. This is because until the degree is conferred, there is always a possibility that students may be required to re-submit their thesis/retake exams and therefore, revert back to being a full time student with a later course end date. If this were to happen when you are working full-time, there is the risk of working illegally which carries heavy penalties for both the employer and employee.

Students who undertake full-time employment after the official course end date but before the date of the Board of Examiners do so at their own risk and on the understanding that, if it is recommended that the award not be conferred and further study is required to complete the course, they will return to restricted work rights, that is a maximum of 20 hours per week, until the revised course end date has passed. Furthermore, if the Exam Board recommends that the student be permanently or temporarily withdrawn, the student should notify their employer of this change in circumstance and follow our advice here.

Work placement

For most undergraduate students but sometimes also available for Master's degree students: If you hold a student visa, it may be possible to undertake a period of 'work placement'Link opens in a new window, during which time you can work full time, if this is an 'integral and assessed' part of your course. You should approach your academic department for further guidance in the first instance.

Section 8: Specific information for students on a Postgraduate Research course (MRes, MPhil, PhD etc.):

University term dates to not apply to PhD / Postgraduate Research students. A PGR student is only entitled to work part-time, that is up to 20 hours per week, until their course end date has passed. This will be from the official degree conferral date by Senate and not from the thesis submission date or viva date. The only exception is that you can request a time limited period of "Authorised Absence" for vacation and work purposes.

After the official course end date, you can work full-time, provided that it is on a temporary or rolling contract and not a permanent position. If you hold a Student Visa, it may be possible to undertake a period of 'work placementLink opens in a new window', during which time you can work full-time.

New Provisions for PGR students:

1) Students in Limbo, E.g., you have submitted your thesis and have a date for your Viva. if you want to work full-time during this period, you can request a period of Authorised Absence via your eVision portal. If the request is accepted, you will be sent an email which will confirm your right to work more than 20 hours during the AA period.

  • Please note: If the outcome of your Viva is corrections, then you will revert to the 20 hours per week work restrictions. Once you have submitted the corrections, you can request a letter to confirm full-time work rights, see below.

2) Students who have had their Viva and passed or who have submitted their final corrections can now request a letter to confirm they can work more than 20 hours per week. With this letter, you will no longer need to wait for Senate's degree conferral to work more than 20 hours per week.
For the letter request, you will need to attach confirmation from your department/supervisor/doctoral college that you have passed or submitted your corrections, without this confirmation your request for the letter will automatically be refused.

The letter can be requested by clicking hereLink opens in a new window

Section 9: What if my visa is in my old passport?

Regulations introduced by the Home Office on 16 May 2014 state that Entry Clearance Vignettes, that is, visas granted overseas, must be presented in a current passport to enable the holder to work.

If your Student travel visa vignette is in an expired passport, in accordance with new regulation, you will not be permitted to work.

If you hold a valid Student Visa inside an expired passport you can apply to have the conditions of this visa transferred to a new passport and be issued with a BRP, which will enable you to work.

To do this you will need to use the UKVI online service: https://www.gov.uk/transfer-visa 

The average processing time for an application is 6-8 weeks during which time you will not have access to your passport.

A premium application route is available for an additional cost of £610 which would normally take 7-10 days to be processed.

You are entitled to work while the application is in progress subject to your employer conducting relevant checks with the Home Office which confirm an application is underway.

This regulation is unlikely to affect the majority of students who will either have been issued a BRP or who hold digital status.

Section 10: Work placement:

To find out more about work placements, visit our work placementLink opens in a new window section.

Section 11: Working at the University of Warwick whilst holding a Warwick Student Visa:

The University of Warwick's HR team provide information for students who are also working at the University here. Please note that, as a result of Warwick HR policy, it is not possible for Student Visa holders to be engaged on the Salaries (SAL) payroll. However, within the other restrictions, engagement via the Sessional Teaching Payroll (STP) or Unitemps may be possible.

If a student is removed from the UK as a result of sanctions following illegal working, they may face a ban on re-entry for a certain period of time, which could prevent them from successfully completing their studies. Employers face equally severe financial and criminal penalties for employing student visa holders illegally. Employers like the University of Warwick, who are themselves Student Visa sponsor license holders, are obliged to report any breaches of Student Visa conditions occurring at the University to the Home Office, including any involving their own students.

These, or any other breaches discovered by the Home Office, could cause the loss of the University’s visa sponsoring licenses resulting in them no longer being able to sponsor non UK/EEA national students and employees. Therefore, the University must take a zero tolerance approach to illegal working on campus for the protection of its entire staff and student body. The University is determined to prevent work breaches from happening on campus and for this reason, we have put in place some new measures to mitigate the risk of these occurring.

How will these changes affect Student Visa holders employed by the university?

From 22nd June 2018, before a Student Visa holder can be engaged by the University, the student will need to declare whether or not they have ever been engaged previously by the University or Unitemps. If the answer to this question is ‘no’, and this information is verified by the University against its own records, the student will have a right to work check as a new starter and allocated the maximum number of permitted hours for a Student Visa holder, normally 20 hours per week. This means that the student will be able to receive payment for up to 20 hours worked during each week, Monday to Sunday, but never in excess of this.

If the answer to the original question is ‘yes’, the University will need some additional time to process this request, as it will need to gather information from the two different payroll systems across the University and to cap the number of hours to be worked, and paid, via each of these, during a working week.

To give you an example, if you will be undertaking some teaching hours in your academic department as well as working for Unitemps, the University will fix the number of teaching hours you will be permitted to undertake in order for you to be able to work for up to the remaining number of hours permitted by the legal limit for Unitemps, which will also be fixed at this point. This ensures that it is impossible for you to work in excess of the permitted number of hours.

If you wish to start a new work assignment, and you are aware that you have previously worked at the University, you are advised to start this administrative process at least one week in advance of the assignment start date, which will be approximately the time it will take for your request to be processed. It is also important that enough time is allowed for this process to be completed before the start of the working week during which you will be engaged. Subsequent changes to the number of hours allocated to individual student visa holders across systems will take up to 28 days to be effected.

Section 12: Voluntary year out / what's the difference between volunteering and voluntary work?

It is not possible for a Student Visa holder to take part in Warwick's Voluntary Year Out Scheme and retain their Student Visa. You must have gained approval from your department and from Student Records before taking a year out under this scheme. If your department grants the permission, your Student Visa sponsorship will end. This will be reported to the UKVI and they will curtail your visa. You will need to apply for a new Student Visa, when you need to come back to the UK to resume your studies.

The difference between volunteering and voluntary work:

Student visa holders can volunteer while they are studying but must be careful as 'voluntary work', or 'unpaid work' is distinct from volunteering, and it not permitted. Hours undertaking 'voluntary work', that is, not volunteering, must be counted in your weekly permitted working hours allowance, according to your Student visa conditions.

Factors to take into account when considering if a particular activity constitutes voluntary work or volunteering are:

  • Voluntary workers will usually have contractual obligations to perform the work, for example, to attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks, with the employer being contractually required to provide the work - the contract does not have to be written
  • A voluntary worker is usually remunerated in kind, for example, getting free or highly discounted accommodation while working
  • Volunteers do not have a contract
  • They must not be a substitute for an employee and must not be doing unpaid work - for example, receiving payments in kind - although they can sometimes be reimbursed for reasonable travel and subsistence expenses
  • Volunteers usually help a charity or voluntary or public sector organisation
sz13-1
sz13-2

Section 13: National insurance number and income tax:

The National Insurance Number (NINo) is a unique personal number. You do not need to pay anything to obtain this number, it is free.

It is a record of your national insurance contributions. Your employer will deduct National Insurance contributions from your pay once you reach a minimum level of earnings in the UK. The 2023/24 tax free allowance is £12,570. If you earn below this level, then you do not need to pay income tax or National Insurance. If you only work during university vacations and do not expect to earn more than the annual tax-free allowance, you can complete a form so that your employer will not deduct income tax. You will find some useful information about this here.

You do not need a NINo to start working in the UK. You can apply for NINo after you have started your job. However, you will need to prove to the employer that you have the right to work in the UK, this may be your BRP card or digital immigration status.

If you have a BRP card, for some immigration categories, the National Insurance Number will appear in the remarks section on the reverse of the BRP card. Otherwise, you will need to apply for a NINo.

Applying for a National Insurance number is simple, and you can do this online. Once you have proved your identity as part of the online application process it can take up to 16 working days to receive your NINo.

If you need help with the application, you can contact the National Insurance helpline.

Section 14: EEA and Swiss nationals:

Nationals of EEA countries granted Settled or Pre-settled status have no restriction on the hours and type of work they can undertake whilst studying in the UK. More information can be found on our EEA/Brexit website.

Nationals of EEA countries studying in the UK for fewer than six months using a Visitor Visa are not permitted to work at all while in the UK.

EEA students granted Student Visa status are bound by the same work restrictions as Student Visa holders from non-EEA countries and should refer to the advice further up this page.

Section 15: Refund of Immigration Health Surcharge for EEA nationals:

The UK government has published provisional information that applies to EEA Nationals, who hold UK Student Visas for a full-time course, and also continue to hold a valid European Health Insurance (EHIC) card issued by an EU member state.


It is possible that some students in this position will be able to apply for a full or partial Refund of their Immigration Health Surcharge payment (paid as part of their Student Visa application).


Please click on the following link, read and follow the guidance provided regarding this scheme:


EU IHS Payments

Section 16: Can leave the UK after completing my studies and return before my Student Visa expires to switch into a different immigration category?

Since March 2018, we have been assured by the Home Office UKVI Policy Team that the Border Force officers have been briefed that returning to the UK after the 'course end date' on your CAS to attend your Graduation Ceremony, pursue further studies, undertake an internship or look for an internship or switch to a skilled worker visa etc., should not be considered as a 'change of circumstance'. Therefore, if you have completed your course successfully, hold a valid student visa and wish to return to the UK for one of the reasons as stated above, you should be permitted to re-enter the UK.

However, please note that the Border Force officials retain the right to establish that you are genuinely coming back to the UK to do what you said you would, and so it is important that you have sufficient evidence in your hand luggage in case you are asked (for example, an email sent from the Awards & Ceremonies (Graduation) Team confirming your registration; a letter confirming your internship; evidence that you are looking for an internship; a print-out of a CoS for a skilled worker visa; a job offer based on graduate work visaLink opens in a new window; an email from professional services or your academic department confirming you have passed your degree; a return ticket to your home country before your student visa expiry date etc).

As with any changes, some of the UK Border Force officials may not remember this and so the safest option is always not to leave the UK during this period (especially if the stakes are high, for example, if you already have a CoS for a skilled worker visa and failure to re-enter the UK may mean that you lose the opportunity for a skilled worker job). However, if you have shown sufficient evidence to the UK Border Force official but are still experiencing difficulties re-entering the UK, please contact usLink opens in a new window mmediately.

Section 17: Providing information about your immigration permission on a job application

A lot of job applications ask the question 'Do you have permission to work in the UK?'

As a student in the UK on a Student Visa, it is clear that you will need to switch to a different visa category in order to take a permanent full-time position and so you cannot simply answer 'yes' to this question. We would therefore advise that you make direct contact with the employer to inform them you would like to make an application and to explain your immigration status in the UK. You can inform them that you would be eligible to switch into a work category, for example the graduate route work visaLink opens in a new window OR skilled worker route, if they were in a position to sponsor you. You are advised to check whether an employer is on the register of licensed sponsors if you require an employer to sponsor you.

Section 18: If you have further queries and useful links:

Please click on the following link and submit our online contact form:


Please click on the following links for more information


University of Warwick:

UK Government:


Other contacts: