Working in the UK during studies

Working while you are studying, how many hours you can work and the visa restrictions on working.

The webinar below presented by our IAG Team and Careers Team discusses working during your studies:


Normally working in the UK during your studies is permitted but there are restrictions on the type of work you can do. This includes 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.

Visa restrictions on working

If you are studying full-time at degree level, during term-time you may not work more than 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.

You are not allowed to set up a business, be self-employed, provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer, or pursue a career by fulfilling a permanent full-time vacancy.

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

Taking a degree with a year in industry

If you are taking a degree that 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 in addition to the year in industry placement. You will remain on a student visa sponsored by the University for your year in industry.

Your school will provide a letter to your industry placement provider to confirm it forms part of the degree, see 'How can I prove my right to work?' for further details. 

What is classed as 'a week'?

UK Visas and Immigration define a week as 'any seven 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 us 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 Postgraduate Taught students will have their vacation time set by the University. Masters students should note that their vacation periods are the winter and spring vacations only (held over the Christmas and Easter period), as during the summer they are required to be completing their dissertations. Masters students course end date is as stipulated on the CAS and student record and are therefore in 'term-time' until this date, therefore, you must not work more than 20 hours per week until your official course end date.  

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

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

How can I prove my right to work?

From the 6th April 2022, when proving your right to work to an employer in the UK, all Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) holders will be required to generate a sharecode online. Physically showing your BRP card to an employer is no longer accepted.

If you started employment before this date you do not need to show your right to work again as showing the physical BRP card was accepted at the time, however, your employer may request this if they are re-checking right to work or are being cautious with the new requirement.

A right to work check is simply the employer’s legal responsibility to check that those who are working for them have the legal right to do so and what the conditions to that work are e.g. that student visa holders can work but are limited to 20 hours per week during term time.

For more information click on the Employer's guide to right to work checks

In order to demonstrate your right to work please use the following link to get set up on the online portal and to generate a sharecode which you can give to employers. They can then use this to see your right to work in the UK - Prove your right to work to an employer - GOV.UK (

The university does not produce letters to students to confirm your right to work as it is a requirement of your employer to satisfy themselves of your entitlement and the UK government provide lots of information for employers to help them to do this.

We would advise you to obtain an Enrolment Status letter so your employer has evidence that you are still enrolled on a course of full time study. This along with your sharecode and a print out from the website confirming your term dates are all an employer needs to see. 

The only situation where the University should provide a formal letter to your employer is where your employment forms part of a work placement which is an official part of your course. This is confirmed on page 47 of the employers guide above.  This would be produced by your School or department. Each School has a member of staff responsible for co-ordinating placements and we would recommend asking them for further guidance. 

National Insurance (NI) number

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

If you have a biometric residence permit (BRP), you might have a National Insurance (NI) number already - it will be printed on the back of your BRP if you do.

You cannot be paid until you have an NI number.

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

How to apply

You can apply for a National Insurance number online by visiting the UK government website here. You will need to prove your identity when you apply. 

National Insurance number application line:
Telephone: 0800 141 2075
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

After you apply, it can take up to eight weeks to get your National Insurance number.

You will not need to have a face-to-face interview at the moment because of coronavirus.

Finding a job

Jobs are advertised in a number of places. You can find information about looking for employment and current vacancies as well as how our Careers Service can help you on the Careers and Employability Service website.

Employment rights

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

Do not accept money paid to you directly in cash, also known as 'cash in hand'. Wages should normally be paid directly into your bank account and you should always receive a proper payslip 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.

Working after you've finished your studies

On completing your studies you may work full time but only until your visa expires, provided this is not more than four 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 four months from the end date of your course, please contact us for advice.

If you wish to continue working in the UK beyond these four 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 whilst waiting for a viva date. 

Speak to a International Advice and Guidance advisor

If you are unable to find an answer to your query on our web pages email or book an online confidential one-one appointment.