Working during your studies

While you are in the UK on a student visa, it is likely that you will have permission from the UK Government to undertake employment. This can be a great way to get involved with the British way of life, learn about another culture and also earn extra money!

As well as the information below, the UK Council for International Student Affairs also has lots of useful information on their website too, please see here

Can I work in the UK?   

Normally working in the UK during studies is permitted but there are restrictions on the type of work you can do, and how many hours per week you can work, depending on your level and mode of study.

You must check your visa to find out if you can work.

If your visa was issued outside the UK and states 'Work (and any changes) must be authorised' or a variation of this, then you have permission to work.

If you have extended your visa in the UK and have an ID card (a BRP) you may work if it states 'Restricted Work. P/T term time. F/T vacations' or a variation of this. 

P/T means 'part-time' and F/T means 'full-time'.

If you are unsure, please contact International Advice and Guidance for assistance.

Visa restrictions on working   

If you are studying full-time at degree level, during term-time (see below for a definition) you may not work more than 20 hours per week. This is not an average over several weeks, this is per week (for example, you cannot work 15 hours one week and then 25 hours the next and say that this averages to 20 hours per week).

If you work more than 20 hours in any one week you will be breaching your visa and this could prevent you from obtaining a new visa in the future or completing your studies.

Your focus should be on your studies. The University of Liverpool recommends that all students work only 15 hours per week during term time.

During vacation time you are allowed to work full time.

At no time are you permitted to engage in business, be self-employed, provide services as a professional sports-person or entertainer or pursue a career by fulfilling a permanent full time vacancy.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs have written a really useful blog regarding working during studies, what is defined as 'self-employed' or an entertainer and clarify rules regarding being 'on call', private selling, income from digital and 'influencers, ad-hoc work such as courier amongst many other forms of income generation. 

If you are taking a degree which includes a 'year in industry' placement, the placement can be full time as it is an integral and assessed part of your degree therefore considered 'study'. The 20 hour work permission is additional to the year in industry placement. You will remain on a Tier 4 visa sponsored by the University for your year in industry. 

What is classed as 'a week'?

UKVI define 'a week' as 'any 7 day period starting on a Monday'. Therefore, you cannot work more than 20 hours in any one Monday to Sunday period otherwise you would be in breach of the conditions of your visa.

If you are unsure if you might be in breach of this or have a general query please contact the International Advice and Guidance before undertaking the work. 

What is term-time?   

Term time is any period in which you are regarded by the University as undertaking academic work (for example, attending classes, revising, researching or writing coursework, writing a dissertation or thesis).

Undergraduates and taught Masters will have their vacation time set by the University. Masters students should note that their vacation periods are the Winter and Spring vacations only, as during the summer they are required to be completing their dissertations. Master students course end date is as stipulated on the CAS and student ID card and are therefore in 'term-time' until this date. 

PhD and other research students must agree vacation time with their supervisor in advance.

Students repeating studies are still limited to 20 hours per week during term time.

What is a National Insurance Number and do I need one?   

If you intend to work, or soon after you get a job, you will need a National Insurance (NI) number.

You cannot be paid until you have an NI number.

For information about National Insurance numbers, please visit the UK Government's website.

To request a National Insurance number, contact the Jobcentre Plus application line by telephoning 0800 141 2075. The line is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

How do I find a job?

Jobs are advertised in a number of places. The local newspaper, 'The Liverpool Echo', often advertises job availability.

Some shops advertise vacancies in their windows, alternatively you can walk in and ask.

You can find information about looking for employment and current vacancies that they are advertising on the Careers and Employability Service website.

How do I prove that I am allowed to work?   

Your visa is evidence of your permission to work (see above for how to determine if you are allowed to work). You should show your visa to your employer.

Your employer can also find out by calling the Home Office helpline 0300 123 4699.

You could also provide your employer with the following UK Government website, which contains useful information on how to verify that a person is able to work and so be employed - https://www.gov.uk/check-job-applicant-right-to-work 

Employment rights   

All employers must pay their employees a minimum wage which has been set by the UK Government.

Do not accept 'cash in hand' (money paid to you directly in cash). Wages should normally be paid directly in to your bank account and you should always receive a proper pay slip containing information about tax and National Insurance contributions. 

For more information on your rights and the responsibilities your employer owes you, please visit the Careers and Employability Service website.

Can I work after I've finished my studies?   

On completing your studies you may work full time but only until your visa expires, provided this is not more than 4 months from the end of your course.

The same conditions apply, and so you cannot accept a permanent, full-time vacancy during this time.

If your visa expiry date is more than 4 months from the end date of your course, please contact International Advice and Guidance for advice.

If you wish to continue working in the UK beyond these 4 months, you must change your visa to one of those in the employment categories.

For PhD students, you are not deemed to have 'finished' your studies until you have submitted your final thesis (this means that you have completed your viva and any necessary corrections). You therefore cannot work full-time after your initial submission.

For more information about employment visas, please see our this page of our website.