Working during your studies

International students who hold a Student Route Visa to study in the UK are subject to working restrictions imposed by UKVI (UK Visas & Immigration). Breaching the working conditions and taking up work where you do not have the appropriate permission is considered illegal working and will affect your immigration record. Illegal working can result in curtailment of your visa and may risk any future visa applications you make. It may also lead to a prison sentence, a fine for you and a civil penalty for your employer.

Your entry clearance vignette (yellow visa sticker in your passport), your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and your online Immigration Status (share code) indicates if you're allowed to work and the maximum number of hours you can work.

 

If you are from EU, EEA or Switzerland

If you are from within the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), you cannot work in the UK without the relevant work permit. The amount of hours you can work depends on your immigration status.

  • Students in the UK on the EU Settlement Scheme can work without restrictions
  • Student Route Visa holders – please refer to the guidance below
  • Standard visitor route students are prohibited from working meaning they cannot undertake a work placement/internship etc. This includes non-visa nationals who entered the UK with their passport as a visitor for under 6 months.  

For more information regarding EU/EEA students visit our dedicated Advice page.

To find out more visit the UK Goverment information for EEA, EU and Swiss Nationals.

How do I know if I am permitted to work in the UK?

The hours you are permitted to work will be clearly indicated on:

  1. The vignette in your passport (the yellow sticker)
  2. Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  3. Your online Immigration Status (Share code)

As a Student Route visa holder the types of work you can undertake are:

  • paid, unpaid and voluntary work
  • Paid and unpaid work placements undertaken as part of a course of study or period of study

Student Route visa holders are restricted from the following:

  • self-employment                   
  • engaging in business activity
  • Providing services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer
  • Take a full time, permanent position

UKVI also confirms that 'paid and unpaid work placements undertaken as part of a course of study' are separate from 'paid or unpaid employment', so can be done simultaneously.

Working limits for the Student Route under PBS rules

As a Student Route visa holder, if you are studying a full time course at the University, your Student Route visa may allow you to work in the UK. You will be permitted to work as per the UKVI rules:

  • 10 hours per week during term time if you are studying a course below degree level; OR
  • 20 hours per week during term time if you are studying a full time course at degree level and above;
  • You are allowed to work full time during vacation periods and after you have finished studies (until your visa expires);
  • 10 hours a week if you are on a Child Student visa and you are at least 16 years old.

Please read more information on University recommended hours if you are a Postgraduate or PhD student.  

What are the risks should a student work in excess of their conditions?

If you are in breach of your working conditions, please contact the IST immediately. If the IST establish that there is a breach, then the University of Birmingham is obliged to inform the UKVI of the overwork. As a result, the UKVI may choose to curtail your remaining leave. Please note: it is a criminal offence to exceed your working hours.

What can affect a student's working permissions?

Your working permissions will be affected :

  • If you wish to withdraw from your course or suspsend your studies then our Student sponsorship would cease and you must stop working immediately;
  • If you have successfully completed your course then you will retain the right to work until your visa expiry date.

What day do I start from to calculate the numbers of hours worked each week?

A 'week' is defined by the UK Visa & Immigration (UKVI) as a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday. This means that you must ensure that in any week beginning Monday and ending Sunday you do not work more than your permitted hours.

I am an undergraduate student and I have a Student Route visa when am I able to work full time?

If you are an undergraduate student you can only work 20 hours per week during term time and full time during official University vacation periods and after you have finished your studies until your visa expires. Undergraduate students have three vacation periods:

  • Christmas vacation
  • Easter vacation
  • Summer vacation

I am a postgraduate taught students on a student visa, when can I work full time?

As a Postgraduate student you are only permitted to work 20 hours during term time and full time during the following two vacation periods:

  • Christmas vacation
  • Easter vacation

For postgraduate students the summer vacation period is classed as ‘term time’ as you will be expected to be working full time on your dissertation. This means you are only permitted to work 20 hours per week.

I am a postgraduate taught student, and my course end date is 25 September. I have submitted my dissertation on 5 September, earlier than my official course end date. Can I now work full time?

Even if you have submitted your dissertation earlier than your official course end date, you are still within ‘term time’ and therefore not permitted to work full time. 

I am a postgraduate research student when it is vacation period for me?

If you are a postgraduate research student your course will not follow the standard academic calendar. You are required to be in continuance attendance throughout the year and vacation times are authorised by your PGR Supervisor/Registry Department. You are normally permitted up to 8 weeks' vacation per academic year, including bank holidays and University closed days. Once holiday is approved you are able to work full-time during your vacation period only. Once your vacation period is over you are then only permitted to work your 20 hours per week.

I have finished my course can I work full time?

Once your course has officially finished you will be in your four-month wrap up period (the time issued towards the end of your course). During this time you are permitted to work full-time however if you are repeating a module as an internally registered student this will be classed as term time and you will be restricted to working 20 hours a week.

My employer is asking for a letter confirming my vacation period. Can the University provide a letter?

The University of Birmingham does not provide letters to students confirming University vacation periods. The Employers Right to Work Guidance provides information to employers on the type of information they must retain for international students confirming their academic term and vacation periods whilst the student is employed. University term dates are published on the University webpage.

Employers are responsible for their own right to work checks and must ensure they follow the UKVI guidelines when employing international students.

Where can my employer find term dates confirming when it is vacation period?

University term dates are published on the University webpage.  The webpage clearly details when the Christmas, Easter and Summer vacation periods are.

How can my employer check my right to work?

Your employer has the responsibility to check your right to work.  The Home Office website provides clear advice and guidance on the responsibility of an employer and the steps they need to take to check your right to work. Employers can:

What do I need to consider if I am offered an opportunity to volunteer?

You will need to consider:

  • are you volunteering or undertaking voluntary work?
  • if you are undertaking voluntary work, do you have the right to work in the UK?

What is the difference between volunteering and voluntary work

For Student route visa holders there is a clear difference between volunteering and voluntary work (unpaid employment). If you hold a Student route visa (previously Tier 4 (General) visa), then you will be able to undertake volunteering activity. However, you must be careful as if your activity is classed as voluntary work instead of volunteering, any time spent undertaking voluntary work will count towards the maximum number of hours you are allowed to work under your Student route visa.  

How do I know if the position I have been offered is volunteering or voluntary work?

Factors to think about when considering whether a particular activity constitutes voluntary work or volunteering are:

  • Voluntary workers will usually have contractual obligations to perform the work (for example to attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks) with the employer being contractually required to provide the work – the contract does not have to be written - the worker is usually remunerated in kind.
  • Volunteers do not have a contract - they must not be a substitute for an employee, and they must not be doing unpaid work – for example, receiving payment in kind (although they are sometimes reimbursed for reasonable travel and subsistence expenses). Volunteers usually help a charity or voluntary or public sector organisation. 

You should check with the organisation offering the volunteering opportunity whether it would be regarded as unpaid employment.

I am an EU/EEA national and I have pre-settled/settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) can I undertake volunteering activities?

Yes. If you have been granted pre-settled or settled status under the EUSS then you are eligible to undertake paid employment, volunteering activities and work placement/internships without any restriction

I am an international student and I am a dependant of a Points Based System (PBS) migrant can I undertake volunteering activities?

Yes, if you are a dependant of a PBS migrant then you are eligible to undertake paid employment, volunteering activities and work placement/internships without any restriction.

Can I volunteer if I am a student but not on a Student route visa?

If you hold a Short-term study visa, you can volunteer, but you cannot do voluntary work as you cannot undertake any paid or unpaid work, work experience or work placements during your studies in the UK. 

If you hold a Standard Visitor visa (purpose of undertaking study for less than 6 months), you can volunteer provided it is for a registered charity and will be for no longer than 30 days in total. Volunteer work can be full-time or part-time but must not exceed 30 days in total. Visitors are not permitted to undertake voluntary work (please see definition above). As a visitor you are not permitted to work in the UK or undertake a work placement or internship (including as part of a course of study).

I am an international student with a Student route visa, can I undertake voluntary work?

A Student route visa holder can do voluntary work if they are permitted to work, but this work and any paid work must not exceed the total number of hours you are permitted to work during term time. For example, if you are permitted to work 20 hours a week during term-time and you have paid work of 15 hours a week, you cannot do more than 5 hours voluntary work in the same week.

University’s working restrictions

The University can impose tighter restrictions on the number of hours you can work and you are expected to abide by the University regulations. It is recommended that you check if your School has any particular restrictions on its students. You should adhere to the University restrictions on working during your studies. 

How can I ensure that I do not undertake voluntary work over the hours permitted as a Student route visa holder?

If you are studying a course at degree level or above you are permitted to work only 20 hours per week during term time. To avoid exceeding the permitted number of hours worked it is your responsibility to keep track of the number of hours worked from Monday to Sunday whether this is paid employment, voluntary work or combined.  

What is the consequence of undertaking voluntary work over the permitted limit?

You have personal responsibility to ensure you DO NOT work more than the permitted hours indicated on your BRP for all the work you do whether with the University or an external employer or both. If you are in breach of your visa work conditions, you must inform the International Student Team immediately. If the IST establishes that there is a breach of your conditions, then the University must inform the UKVI that you have worked over your permitted limit.  As a result, the UKVI may choose to curtail (shorten) your visa. If this happens, you will be required to leave the UK.   

Students in the UK on a Visitor visa

You cannot undertake any work whatsoever, whether paid, unpaid or voluntary. This includes work placements, which are not allowed even if part of your course.

Can I do an internship or work placement?

Work placements or internships must be an officially recognised part of your course.

If you want to do a work placement or internship outside your course, contact the IST to make sure that you are still within the regulations.

Further Information

If you have any questions, please contact the International Student Team.

For more information on work opportunities at the University of Birmingham visit the Work link website.

You can also find information and support on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website.

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