Working in the UK during studies

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

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.

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.

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, 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 ID card and are therefore in 'term-time' until this date.

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

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

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 by calling the National Insurance application line to ask for an application form.

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

You’ll need to return the application form along with your proof of identity and your right to work or study in the UK. You’ll be told which documents you can use as proof when you get your application form.

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. 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.

Proving you're allowed to work

Your visa is evidence of your permission 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.

Your employer can also check your 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 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.

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.