The basics
THE UK: Visa Guides

Visa conditions for working while studying in the UK

Our breakdown of working options for international students studying in the UK

2006

Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to undertake part-time work whilst you study abroad in the UK. Whilst having an income may offset some of your living costs, it will not nearly be enough to cover everything, so it’s important you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your study programme. You working rights in the UK will depend firstly on whether you need a visa or not, and again depending on which particular visa your study programme requires. Let our overview of your working rights as an international student in the UK help lay out your options.

 

I am an EU student...

If you are a student from an EU country then you do not need a visa to enter the UK. There are no working restrictions on EU students.

Check if you are an EU student

 

I am NOT an EU student...

If you are a non-EU student then you will need to apply for either a Student Visitor visa or a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa to study in the UK, depending on the length of your study programme.

If your study programme is six months or less in duration, you can apply for a Student Visitor visa. Under this visa, you CANNOT work or carry out any business in the UK. You won’t be able to extend this visa once it expires, either.

If your study programme is longer than six months, you will need to apply for a Tier 4(general) Student visa. Students with this visa are able to work under some circumstances.

 

Tier 4 (general) student visa

Under this visa, you’re able to work ONLY if you host institution is listed on both the official UKBA Sponsor list and the list of ‘recognised bodies,’ and if the passport sticker you’re issued or your identity card DOES NOT say ‘no work’ or ‘work prohibited.’

You might have different work restrictions depending on your study programme and particular circumstances. This will be outlined on your student visa, but generally students completing a study programme at Degree level (Bachelor or Masters) or a Foundation Degree programme will be able to undertake part time work for no more than 20 hours per week during academic term, and full time during term holidays. Students completing a study programme below Degree level, excluding Foundational Degrees can work for up to 10 hours part-time per week during term, and full time during the 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 whilst completing your studies in the UK, you will have to obtain a National Insurance Number (NIN) and maybe even pay income tax.

Check if your institution is on the official UKBA Sponsor list

Check if you institution is on the list of ‘recognised bodies’

 

 

NIN and Income Tax

If you earn above a certain personal allowance within a given tax year, you will have to pay income tax to the government. Some nations have ‘double taxation agreements,’ which apply to students who are residents of one country, but receive income from another. For example, a student may be a resident in the UK but gain income from investments in another country. A double taxation agreement would then make sure that this student does not pay tax twice on the same income by outlining which country has the right to collect the tax, and how much they will collect. Students working part-time in the UK beneath an agreement like this may in some circumstances be exempt from paying UK income tax.

You do not need to have a NIN to gain employment in the UK, but must obtain one once you are working. Your NIN is a number that the government uses to record your contributions to National Insurance, which works to fund national benefits systems such as pensions and welfare allowances. You can either apply for an NIN online or by making an appointment with your nearest Jobcentre Plus. You will need to bring 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

All non-EU students wishing to remain in the UK after they graduate to work need to apply for a work visa with the UK Border Agency. There are several visa options for graduates:

Tier 2(General) Visa

Graduates with a Bachelor, Masters or PhD from a recognized UK university who have been offered skilled employment with a licensed employer that pays over £20,300 (US$ 33,643) annually are eligible for this visa.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa

Students developing a business idea may obtain sponsorship from their university, who will identify and their potential to successfully pursue the idea and create their own business in the UK.

Tier 4(Student) Visa

This visa is for students completing their Doctorate studies at a UK higher institution. Students with this visa must be sponsored by their university, and may stay in the UK with unlimited work rights for up to 12 months after completing their studies. 

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

Students from selected nationalities can apply for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa. This visa will enable you to live and work in the UK for up to two years after the completion of your study programme. 

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?

 

Read more:

'Applying to study in the UK'

'Applying for a UK student visa'

 

Search for a course

UK
Study level*
About Author

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.

Free

'Study in the UK' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the UK into one handy digital book.