In most cases Tier 4 visa holders can work during and after their studies, however there are limitations and it is very important that you understand these in order to avoid any issues. Working beyond the allowed limitations is a very serious breach of the immigration rules that can have long-lasting consequences for your studies and status in the UK.
Can I work during my studies?
If you are a full-time Tier 4 visa holder you can work whilst you are in the UK and still actively enrolled and engaged in your studies. If you are studying part-time, hold a Short-term Study visa, or any other visitor-type visa you cannot work at all.
What hours can I work?
In most cases your BRP will state how many hours you can work. The allowances are as follows:
Undergraduate students: 20 hours a week during term-time, full-time hours during the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays, full-time hours between successfully completing the course and your visa expiring (the wrap-up period).
Postgraduate Taught: 20 hours a week during term-time, full-time hours during the Christmas and Easter holidays, full-time hours between successfully completing the course and your visa expiring (the wrap-up period). There is no summer break for these students.
Postgraduate Research: 20 hours a week during term-time, full-time hours between successfully completing the course and your visa expiring (the wrap-up period). There are no holiday periods throughout your study, although you may have the written permission of your Director of Studies to engage in full-time employment.
All students studying below-degree level (Foundation degrees, International Foundation Programme, pre-sessional English): 10 hours a week during term-time, full-time hours during the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays, full-time hours between successfully completing the course and your visa expiring (the wrap-up period).
Please see the current Academic calendar for the term dates.
If you have no studies or modules to engage with during the summer or your wrap-up period then you can work full-time only once you have been confirmed as completing all assessments at an academic board. You must come to the International Student Centre or email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a letter to confirm this.
What if I want to do a work placement?
If your course includes a mandatory work placement that is an assessed part of your course then you can work full-time hours on the placement during term-time. You can continue to work 10/20 hours a week during term-time in work not related to your studies. Whilst on the work placement you will continue to be monitored for attendance and must report any absences to your placement supervisor at both your employer and the university.
If the placement is in any way optional or not assessed then you can only work under the same conditions listed above.
Is there any work I cannot do?
The following work is prohibited, regardless of it being part-time or full-time:
- A full-time permanent vacancy (the employment must be temporary)
- Self-employment or engaging in business activity
- A doctor or dentist in training
- Professional sportsperson or entertainer
Engaging in business activity is defined as “working for a business in which you have a financial or other significant beneficial interest in a capacity other than as an employee”. Examples of this would be:
- 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 or 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
Can I volunteer during my studies?
Volunteering is not subject to any restrictions and so can be done during your studies, in addition to any other work that is restricted. However, voluntary work is different and is subject to the same restrictions as paid employment. Examples of differences are as follows:
- Voluntary workers will usually have a contract that requires to them to perform the work. Usually to attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks. The employer would usually be contractually required to provide the work
- A voluntary worker is usually remunerated for their work (for example, getting free or highly discounted accommodation while working)
- Volunteers do not have a contract nor any obligation to work specified hours
- Volunteers will not be remunerated, although they may sometimes receive reasonable travel expenses
What work options are available after I have completed my studies?
There are a number of options available, depending on the type of work you wish to do and your personal circumstances. The most common options are: