Student Visa with Work Permit in the UK 2024 Tips & Guidance

1. International Student UK Working Hours

The United Kingdom is a hub for international students, offering a combination of prestigious educational institutions and diverse work experiences. Students with the appropriate visa can work while studying, subject to specific conditions related to working hours, the nature of employment, and the terms of their visa. This guide explores these conditions, focusing on the limitations for different study levels, rules on self-employment, and restrictions on professional sports.

Working on Student Visa UK: Guidelines and Limitations

Type of StudyEmployment Conditions
Full-time course at degree level or above (sponsored by a compliant higher education provider or an overseas institution for a study abroad program)Work up to 20 hours per week during term-time. Full-time work allowed outside term-time.
Full-time course below degree level (sponsored by a compliant higher education provider)Work up to 10 hours per week during term-time. Full-time work allowed outside term-time.
All other study types, including part-time coursesNo employment permitted.
Child students aged 16 or overWork part-time up to 10 hours per week during term; full-time during vacations.
Student Visa with Work Permit: Employment Conditions Based on Study Level
  • For Students: Overworking beyond the permitted hours risks visa cancellation, deportation, re-entry bans, and financial burdens.
  • For Employers: Employing students beyond their allowed hours can lead to legal penalties and fines.
  • Full-Time Courses: Degree-level students can work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during holidays. Below degree-level students are limited to 10 hours per week during term time.
  • Part-Time Courses: Students in part-time courses are generally not allowed to work.
  • Child Students: Those aged 16 or over can work part-time during the term and full-time during vacations.

It’s crucial for international students in the UK to understand and adhere to the work restrictions associated with their student visa. Overstepping these boundaries can have serious consequences. For clarity on your specific visa conditions, consult with UKVI or seek legal advice.

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    2. Restrictions on Self-Employment and Business Activities

    Can International Students be Self-Employed in the UK?

    Generally, students on a UK student visa are not allowed to engage in self-employment or business activities. This includes:

    • Starting a business as a sole trader or in a partnership.
    • Being employed by a company where you hold 10% or more shares.
    • Working in a statutory role like a company director.

    There is an exception for students applying for permission on the Start-up route:

    • If endorsed by a compliant higher education provider.
    • Allows working as self-employed while awaiting a decision on the application.

    Restricted Work: No Professional Sports or Coaching

    Students on a UK visa are generally prohibited from engaging in professional sports or coaching. This is to ensure that their primary focus remains on their studies.

    • Providing sports services at a professional or semi-professional level.
    • Receiving payment for sports activities covering living costs in the UK.
    • Registered with a professional or semi-professional sports team.
    • Represented a national or regional team in the last two years.
    • Established an international reputation in the sport.
    • Engaging an agent for career development as a sportsperson.

    Being classified as a professional sportsperson could affect your student visa status. It’s important to understand and adhere to these regulations.

    3. Transitioning from UK Student Visa to Skilled Worker Visa

    If you’re an international student aspiring to work in the UK after your studies, understanding the transition process to a Skilled Worker visa is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of the key eligibility criteria and the process involved:

    Education LevelYou must be studying a full-time course at degree level or above at a compliant higher education provider.
    Timing of ApplicationApply for the Skilled Worker visa while still having permission as a Student.
    Employment Before DecisionIf your Skilled Worker visa decision is pending, you can start working for up to 3 months before your course completion date.
    Conditions for Eligibility
    • Job Offer Requirement: To switch, secure a job offer from a UK employer with a sponsor license.
    • Skill Level and Salary: The job must meet the required skill level and salary thresholds of the UK’s points-based system.
    • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): Obtain a CoS from your prospective employer.
    • Eligible Occupations: Ensure your job role is on the list of eligible occupations.
    • Impact of Incomplete Degree: Not completing your degree may affect your points, making it harder to qualify.
    • Prepare in Advance: Start looking for job opportunities well before your course completion.
    • Understand the Points System: Familiarize yourself with the points-based immigration system to evaluate your chances.
    • Documentation and Application: Gather necessary documents, including your CoS, and submit your Skilled Worker visa application.

    Transitioning from a student visa to a Skilled Worker visa is a viable path for international students in the UK looking to enter the professional workforce. Ensure you meet all the requirements and understand the implications of each step in the process. Seeking professional advice can also be beneficial in navigating this transition smoothly.

    4. Work Rights for Spouses on UK Student Dependent Visa

    Understanding the work rights for spouses or partners accompanying international students in the UK is essential. Here’s a detailed look at what dependents can and cannot do in terms of employment:

    • Unrestricted Work Hours: Typically, dependents of students can work without any limits on their weekly hours. This applies to spouses of students engaged in postgraduate courses for more than 9 months or those funded by postgraduate scholarships.
    • Exceptions for Below Degree Level Courses: Dependents of students enrolled in below degree level courses are generally not allowed to work in the UK, as per Paragraph ST 39.3 (b)(ii) of Appendix Student.
    • Degree Level Courses: If the student is pursuing a degree level course, their spouse or partner is permitted to work, including self-employment and voluntary roles.
    • Restriction on Sports Activities: Spouses and partners on a dependent visa are barred from taking employment as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. This is to ensure that they adhere to the terms of their dependent visa and avoid roles that could be filled by a UK resident or citizen.
    Student’s Course LevelDependent’s Work Rights
    Postgraduate (9+ months)/Funded by ScholarshipUnrestricted work hours
    Below Degree LevelWork not permitted
    Degree LevelPermitted to work (excluding professional sports)
    Summary of Student Visa with Work Permit Conditions for Dependents
    • Legal Compliance: Always adhere to the restrictions outlined in your visa to avoid legal complications.
    • Understanding Restrictions: Ensure you understand the nature of permissible and non-permissible work to maintain compliance with UK visa regulations.
    • Seeking Clarification: If in doubt about your work rights as a dependent, consult with UK Visas and Immigration or a legal expert.

    By comprehending these conditions, spouses and partners of international students can effectively navigate their work options while in the UK, ensuring that they remain within the legal parameters of their visa.

    5. Conclusion: Student Visa with Work Permit Rules

    This comprehensive guide has delved into the various aspects of work permissions and restrictions for international students in the UK. Let’s summarize the key points and consider the broader implications.

    • Work During Studies: We discussed the permitted work hours for students, varying by course level and study type, with specifics on term-time and vacation periods.
    • Self-Employment and Business Activities: We outlined the general prohibitions on self-employment for students, with exceptions like the Start-up route.
    • Professional Sports: The restrictions on engaging in professional sports or coaching roles were highlighted.
    • Transition to Skilled Worker Visa: The conditions under which students can switch to a skilled worker visa post-graduation were explained.
    • Spouse Work Rights: The work permissions for spouses of students on dependent visas were also covered.
    Term-Time Work20 hours/week for degree level; 10 hours/week for below degree level
    Vacation WorkFull-time work permitted for all students
    Self-EmploymentGenerally prohibited, except for Start-up route applicants
    Professional SportsNo engagement as a professional sportsperson
    Switching to Skilled Worker VisaPossible under specific conditions
    Spouse Work RightsGenerally unrestricted, except in professional sports
    Student Visa with Work Permit: Summary of Work Conditions
    • Adherence to Rules: It’s crucial to adhere to these guidelines to avoid legal complications.
    • Staying Updated: Immigration rules can change; always refer to the latest UKVI guidelines.
    • Individual Circumstances: Each case may have unique considerations; seek personalized advice if necessary.

    While this guide offers a thorough overview of the work conditions under a UK student visa, it’s important to remember that immigration rules are subject to change. Always consult with up-to-date official sources or immigration professionals for the latest information and tailored advice.

    Understanding these rules is pivotal for international students planning to work during their studies or transition into the UK workforce post-graduation. By staying informed and compliant, you can navigate the UK’s immigration policies effectively, ensuring a successful and enriching experience as a student and potential employee in the UK.

    6. FAQs: UK Student Visa Work Permit Rules

    1. Can I work full-time on a UK Student Visa?

      Yes, during vacations and the period before your course starts, you’re allowed to work full-time. However, during term time, work hours are limited.

    2. What are the work restrictions on a UK Student Visa?

      If studying at degree level or above, you can work up to 20 hours per week during term time. Below degree level, the limit is 10 hours per week. You can’t be self-employed or engage in business activities, nor can you work as a professional sportsperson.

    3. Can I be self-employed while on a UK Student Visa?

      Generally, no. However, if you’ve applied for permission on the Start-up route and are awaiting a decision, you may work as self-employed.

    4. How many hours can my spouse work if I am on a UK Student Visa?

      Spouses of students studying at postgraduate level or sponsored by a government body can usually work without hour restrictions. However, they cannot work as professional sportspersons.

    5. Can I switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK?

      Yes, provided you meet certain conditions like securing a job offer from a UK employer with a sponsor license and meeting the job’s skill and salary requirements.

    6. Are there any limitations on the type of work I can do as an international student?

      Yes, you cannot work as a professional sportsperson or coach and there are restrictions on self-employment and business activities.

    7. What are the consequences of working more than allowed on a UK Student Visa?

      Exceeding your work limit can lead to visa cancellation, deportation, re-entry bans, and legal penalties for your employer.

    8. What proof of funds is required for a UK Student Visa?

      You must demonstrate sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses. The amount varies depending on your study location and course duration.

    9. What is the process for extending a UK Student Visa?

      To extend your student visa, you must continue meeting the eligibility requirements, including being enrolled in a course and maintaining sufficient funds.

    10. Can I work in the UK after completing my studies on a student visa?

      Yes, you can switch to a post-study work visa or a Skilled Worker Visa if you secure a job that meets the visa requirements.

    For further information and details, please refer to Immigration Rules: Appendix Student.