The basics
THE UK: Once you arrive

Visa conditions for working while studying in the UK

Want to work in the UK, while studying? We’ve come up with a breakdown of the working options available for international students here…

Some of you might want to work part-time while studying to pay off some of your living expenses. Your eligibility to work while studying in the UK depends on your circumstances. Bear in mind that the income earned doing part-time work would be enough to either offset your living costs or supplement your disposable income, but it’s not going to be sufficient to cover the cost of your tuition fees. So ensure that you have adequate funds to support yourself throughout the duration of your stay abroad. A student’s ability to work in the UK will depend firstly on whether you need a visa or not and it also depends on the type of visa that your study programme requires you to have. We’ve come up with an overview of your working rights to help you see which category you fall under.


I am an EU student...


Students from a country in the European Union (EU) do not need to have a visa to enter the UK. There are also no working restrictions in place for EU students, you can seek employment either on-campus or off-campus.

Check if you are an EU student


I am not an EU student...


If your country is not part of the EU, then you are a non-EU student. You will then need to apply for either a Student Visitor Visa or a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa in order to study in the UK, depending on the length of your study programme. For a study programme that is six months or less, students can apply for a Student Visitor Visa. With this visa, you CANNOT work or conduct any business in the UK. This type of visa is not open to extension after it expires.

For students taking programmes that are longer than six months, students will have to apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. Under certain conditions, students holding this visa would be able to work.


Tier 4 (general) student visa


For those that have this particular visa, you will be able to work ONLY if your university is listed on both the official UKBA Sponsor list and the list of ‘recognised bodies’ and if the passport sticker that you’ve been issued or your identity card DOES NOT say ‘no work’ or ‘work prohibited’.

Students might also have different work restrictions that are dependent on your study programme and specific circumstances. These will be listed on your student visa, on the whole, students taking a study programme at the Degree level (Bachelor or Masters) or a Foundation Degree programme are able to take part time work with a maximum of 20 hours each week during the academic semester and full time during the holidays. For those taking a study programme that is below Degree level, with the exception of Foundational degrees, are permitted to work for a maximum of 10 hours part time each week during the school terms and full time during semester breaks.


You will be able to do most types of work, provided you are not:

·         Self-employed

·         Employed as a professional sportsperson or sports coach

·         Employed as a professional entertainer

·         Employed in a professional, permanent full-time job

·         Employed as a doctor or dentist in training, unless it is explicitly part of a Foundational Studies programme


If your visa allows you to work part time while studying in the UK, you will have to obtain a National Insurance Number (NIN) and maybe even pay income tax.


nin and income tax


Students who earn above a certain amount within a given tax year, you will have to pay income tax to the government. Some countries have double taxation agreements in place that apply to students who are residents of one country but receive income from another. For instance, a student maybe studying in the UK, but also obtain dividends from their investments in their homeland. This agreement would then make sure that this particular student does not pay tax twice on the same income tax by outlining which country has the right to collect the tax and how much they will collect. For students who are working part time in the UK under an agreement like this may be exempted from paying UK income tax in some cases. You do not need to have a NIN to gain employment in UK but you would need to get one once you’ve started working. The government uses your NIN number to record your contributions to National Insurance (the fund goes to national benefit systems such as pensions and welfare allowances. Students can apply for a NIN either online or by making an appointment with a Jobcentre Plus near you.  You will also need to bring along a valid passport, your student visa and other proof of identification documents to the interview.


Check your yearly personal allowance

Check current double taxation agreements

Learn more about NIN


After you graduate


For non-EU students who intend to remain in the UK after graduation to work would need to apply for a work visa with the UK Border Agency. Graduates have several visa options available to them:


Tier 2 (General) Visa


Graduates who undertook either Bachelor, Masters or PhD programmes from a recognized UK university who have been offered skilled employment with a licensed employer and with a salary above £20,300 (US$ 33,643) per year are able to apply for this particular visa.


Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa


Aspiring entrepreneurs, or students who have a business idea can apply for this visa.

You may obtain sponsorship from your university who will verify the viability of embarking on the project and creating their own business in the UK and access their potential for success.


Tier 4 (Student) Visa


Students who are taking their Doctorate studies in the UK would need to apply for the Tier 4 (Student) Visa. You need to be sponsored by your university in order to apply. Students may also stay in the UK with unlimited work rights for up to 12 months after completing their study programme.


Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa


Students from certain countries will be able to apply for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa. Those holding this visa will be able to live and work in the UK for a maximum of two years after finishing their studies.


Check if you’re eligible for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa

Learn more about UK visa and immigration requirements


Now that you know your work rights whilst studying abroad in the UK, why not start browsing courses in the UK now?



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About Author

A fan of anime and all things Japanese, Khai has been writing professionally since 2010 and “unofficially” for much longer. In her free time, you will often find her baking, reading, travelling and doing everything else in between.


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