Working in the UK during your studies with immigration permission

Getting a part time job during studies is great way to improve your language skills, gain experience, make friends and earn some extra money.

However, if you are an international student with immigration permission, you are likely to have working restrictions. Look at the information below for clarification on what type of work you can or cannot do and how many hours you can work. If you have other immigration permissions or need clarification, please contact us International Student Advice before starting any employment.

If you are interested in working after your UK studies, have look at our visas for working after study webpage.

EU/EEA students

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) was introduced to allow EU/EEA nationals and their family members to apply to continue living and working in the UK after 1 January 2021. You will need to have Pre-Settled or Settled Status in the UK to continue exercising your EU rights after 11pm on 31 December 2020.

International students on the Hoe

EU/EEA Students with Pre-Settled or Settled Status

If you are a national of one of the full European Economic Area (EEA) member states or Switzerland and have Pre-Settled or Settled Status, you do not need permission to work in the UK and there are no restrictions on the number of hours you can work.

EU/EEA students without Pre-Settled or Settled Status

If you did not exercise your rights before 11pm on 31 December 2020, you may still be eligible to apply until 30 June 2021 subject to EUSS conditions. Please contact ISA if you are not sure.

If you are not eligible to apply for the EUSS and your course is 6 months or longer, you will need a Student visa. Please refer to the Tier 4/Student visa holders for restrictions on employment.

Tier 4/Student visa holders

Most Tier 4 / Student visa holders studying at the University of Plymouth are allowed to gain work experience by working part-time while they study, as long as you ensure you meet the restrictions and conditions outlined below. Students on a Short-term study or Standard Visitor visa cannot do any kind of work, work placement or work experience during your studies in the UK.

Tier 4 / Student visa work restrictions – hours

Your work conditions, including the maximum hours you can work during term time, are normally printed on your visa sticker, Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or on a Home Office letter issued at the time your visa was granted. Your BRP will also state any restrictions in work. Usually, the maximum limit is 10 or 20 hours per week during term time but check your documents first.

International students

The following limits apply to both voluntary and paid work, contact your faculty if you are studying on a health programme to clarify your vacation dates:

Undergraduate students

  • Working during term time - 20 hours per week limit during standard University semester dates.
  • Working during vacation periods - Full time work permitted outside of standard University semester dates.
  • After your course ends - Full-time work permitted after your last term at the University ends, until the date your visa expires.

Postgraduate taught students

  • Working during term time - 20 hours per week limit during standard University semester dates.
  • Working during vacation periods - If you are studying on a standard 12 month Masters programme, the 20 hour limit also applies during the summer vacation period, when you are writing your dissertation. 
  • After your course ends - Full-time work permitted after your last term at the University ends, until the date your visa expires.

Postgraduate research students

  • Working during term time - 20 hour per week limit applies throughout your programme.
  • Working during vacation periods - Full time work is permitted during your annual leave. Please contact the Doctoral College to discuss your annual leave. 
  • After your course ends - Full time work is only permitted after your final thesis has been uploaded to Pearl and up until the date your visa expires.

What kind of work you can do?

If you are allowed to work during study, you can apply for and accept jobs in most types of paid roles, at any level. Please look at the next question for restrictions: Work you are not allowed to 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.

Work you are not allowed to do

There are some types of work you must not do:

  • self-employment and business activity
  • entertainer
  • a permanent full-time job
  • doctor or dentist in training, unless you are on the foundation programme.
  • work as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach. UKCISA state:
    Under a Tier 4 or Student visa, you cannot work as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach. Please refer to the Student and Child Student guidance. Full information on work you can or can’t do is detailed on this UKCISA webpage.

Can I do a work placement?

Placements are an excellent way of obtaining work experience in the UK.

A work placement must be an assessed part of your course and usually must not take up more than a half of your course in the UK.

University of Plymouth must monitor you during your work placement and must let the Home Office know that you will be working for part of your course.
Work placements can be paid or unpaid and can be full time, even in term time.

The hours of work you undertake on the work placement and in addition to the permitted hours on your visa.

Can I volunteer?

Volunteering does not count towards your maximum 10 or 20 hours if it meets the definition of volunteering in the Student and Child Student casework guidance p.102.

Students who are volunteering do not have a contract, they must not be a substitute for an employee and they must not be doing unpaid work i.e. 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.

Your rights as a worker in the UK: beware of labour exploitation
Recent media coverage has highlighted that some international students are vulnerable to exploitation in the workplace, particularly in casual jobs in the care home, hospitality and cleaning industries.Students may feel pressurised into working more hours than permitted or accepting poor pay and working conditions. We suggest you read this Worker’s Checklist before taking any new employment to ensure you stay safe. If you have any concerns, please contact us.

How to find a part-time job

<p>International students at open day</p>

The Careers Service is here to help you find part-time work to fit around your studies.

Working part-time is an excellent way of gaining valuable experience, which could help you to stand out from the crowd when you start applying for graduate opportunities.

You can also apply to work as a Student Ambassadors as part of a highly motivated professional team, supporting a variety of departments across the University at open, applicant and interview days as well as other events.

Have a look at this information: Students looking for part time or temporary jobs

The Careers Service can also offer great support to help you improve your job search strategy, structure your CV or prepare for an interview. 

If you are a student with immigration permission and need clarification on what type of work you can or cannot do or how many hours you can work, you must contact our International Student Advice before taking up any employment.

Do I need to apply for a National Insurance Number?

Your National Insurance number (NINo) is a unique personal number which is used to record your National Insurance contributions. You do not need to have a NINo before starting work, but you must obtain one when you get a job.

You apply for a NINo by calling 0800 141 2075. You might be sent a letter, asking you to attend an appointment. If this happens, the letter will list the documents you will need to bring to the appointment. You usually need to take your passport, payslips or a letter from your employer confirming that you will be working for them. Your appointment will take place at your nearest Jobcentre Plus office, or Social Security office in Northern Ireland.

You can find more information about National Insurance numbers and how to obtain one from GOV.UK, which also provides a textphone number for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing and explains what to do you if you lose your NINo.