How Many Hours Can International Students Work in UK?

This guidance relates to Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK. Accordingly, covers the details of UK student visa work requirements for full time degree level and below degree level course, part time course, work placement, doctorate extension scheme, student union sabbatical officers, volunteering, self-employment, and sportspersons.

1. FAQs 2. Degree Level 3. Below Degree 4. Any Level 5. Part Time 6. Work Placement 7. Doctorate 8. Sabbatical Officer 9. Volunteering 10. Self-Employment 11. Sportsperson

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1. FAQs

Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

Does UK Student Visa Allow You to Work?

Yes, if you are studying a degree level or below level course in the UK then you can work. Moreover, a student on a Work Placement, Student Union Sabbatical Officer and postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised foundation programme can also work in the UK. However, a Child Student under 16 years old cannot work at all during their time in the UK. A Child Student who is aged 16 or above, is allowed to work. A migrant on a student visa is not permitted to:

  • be self-employed or engage in business activity, except where they are awaiting a decision on an application for permission to stay as a Start-up migrant which is supported by an endorsement from a qualifying HEP with a track record of compliance
  • take employment as an entertainer or as a professional sportsperson, including a sports coach
  • fill a full-time permanent vacancy other than a recognised foundation programme and all other requirements are met or where they are filling a post as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer

How Many Hours Can You Work on a Student Visa in the UK?

A migrant studying a degree level and a below degree level course on the student visa in the UK can work for 20 hours and 10 hours per week during term-time, respectively.

Can I Work More than 20 Hours on a Student Visa in UK?

A migrant studying a degree level and a below degree level course on the student visa in the UK can work full-time outside of term-time. Therefore, a migrant studying a degree level or a below degree level course on the student visa in the UK can work more than 20 hours during vacations, including the period before the course starts.

How Many Hours Can International Students work in UK?

During the semester, an international student, pursuing a degree level or below degree level course can work for 20 hours and 10 hours, respectively. However, during the semester break and before the start of the course, a degree level or below degree level international student can work full time in the UK.

Can You Work Part Time on a Student Visa UK?

Yes, you can work part time on a student visa UK, if you are studying degree or below degree course. However, if you are studying a full-time course at Any Level or a Part-Time course then you cannot work part time on a student visa in the UK.

Can Spouse Work on Student Dependent Visa in UK?

In terms of Paragraph ST 39.3 (b)(ii) of Appendix Student, a dependent spouse of a student studying below degree level course cannot work in the UK. A dependent spouse of a student studying degree level course can work (including self-employment and voluntary work) in the UK. However, a student dependent cannot work or take employment as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach) in the UK.

Can a Student Switch to Skilled Worker Visa in the UK?

Yes, in terms of Paragraph ST 26.6 of Appendix Student, a migrant on student visa can apply for a permission to stay under the skilled worker route in the UK.

ST 26.6. If a Student has permission and makes an application for permission to stay under the Skilled Worker route, supported by a Certificate of Sponsorship assigned by a licensed sponsor, the Student can start the employment for which the Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned, for up to 3 months prior to the course completion date, provided:
(a) the Student is studying a full-time course of study at degree level or above with a higher education provider with a track record of compliance; and
(b) the application as a Skilled Worker was made when the applicant had permission as a Student; and
(c) a decision has not been made on the Skilled Worker application, or where a decision has been made, any Administrative Review against a refusal has not been finally determined.

Immigration Rules Appendix Student

UK Student Visa Work Conditions

Type of studyEmployment conditions
Student following a full-time course of degree level or above study:
• sponsored by a higher education provider with a track record of compliance; or
• sponsored by an overseas higher education institution to undertake a short-term study abroad programme in the UK
20 hours per week during term-time (full- time employment permitted outside of term-time)
Student undertaking a full-time course below degree level study sponsored by a higher education provider with a track record of compliance10 hours per week during term-time (full- time employment permitted outside of term-time)
All other study, including all part-time studyNo employment permitted
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Student Visa with Work Permit in UK

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    2. Full-time Course at Degree Level or Above

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    If migrant on student visa is studying full-time course at degree level or above in the UK, at a higher education provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance, or overseas higher education institution and the student is on a short-term study abroad programme in the UK then can work:

    1. part-time during term time (up to a maximum of 20 hours a week)
    2. full-time during vacations, including the period before the course starts
    3. on a work placement as part of the course
    4. full-time as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised foundation programme when permission has been granted for this course type
    5. as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer for up to 2 years when permission has been granted for this purpose

    Please note, a dependent spouse of a student studying degree level course can work (including self-employment and voluntary work) in the UK.

    Visa Endorsement

    If the CAS is issued by Higher Education Provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance or Overseas Higher Education Institution (HEI) for study at degree level and above, then the endorsement on the UK student visa vignette will state:

    • Student SPX* Work limit 20 hrs p/w term time. No Public Funds (+POL)

    3. Full-Time Course Below Degree Level

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    If migrant on student visa is studying full-time course below degree level in the UK, at a higher education provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance, then can work:

    1. part-time during term time (up to a maximum of 10 hours a week)
    2. full-time during vacations, including the period before the course starts
    3. on a work placement as part of the course
    4. as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer for up to 2 years

    Please note, in terms of Paragraph ST 39.3 (b)(ii) a dependent spouse of a student studying below degree level course in the UK does not have the work permission.

    Visa Endorsement

    If the CAS is issued by Higher Education Provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance for study at below degree level, then the endorsement on the UK student visa vignette will state:

    • Student SPX* Work limit 10 hrs p/w term time. No Public Funds (+POL)

    4. Full-Time Course at Any Level

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    If migrant on student visa is studying a full-time course at any level in the UK, at a higher education provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance, or an overseas higher education institution sponsoring a study abroad student then can work:

    1. on a work placement as part of the course (but only if the sponsor has Student sponsor status)
    2. as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer for up to 2 years

    Visa Endorsement

    If the CAS is issued by Sponsor that is not an HEP with a track record of compliance at any RQF level, then the endorsement on the UK student visa vignette will state:

    • Student SPX * No Work except Work Placement. No Public Funds (+ POL)

    5. Part-Time Course at Post-Degree Level

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    If migrant on student visa is studying a part-time course at post-degree level in the UK, at a higher education provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance, then no work is allowed including work placements as part of the applicant’s course.

    6. Work Placements

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    For a work placement to be included within a course of study, the work placement must be integrated and assessed as part of the course of study. There is no requirement stating that a work placement must be credit bearing or assessed as pass or fail. International students studying a full-time course in the UK can do work placement. However, a student on a part-time course cannot do work placement in the UK. Moreover, the licensed Student sponsor will remain responsible for the student (or child student) during the work placement.

    Duration

    A work placement is usually not longer than one third of the total length of the course, except when there is a statutory requirement that it must be so. The duration of work placement on a course that is at degree level or above at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance or at an overseas higher education institution can be up to half of the total length of the course. Please note, the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) specifies the duration (percentage) of work placement.

    Additional Condition for Below Degree Level Course

    If the course of study is below degree level, then a course that includes a work placement must lead to an approved qualification and the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies must be assigned by a student sponsor (who is not a probationary sponsor).

    Exemption and Permission to Stay in the UK

    Students are exempt from meeting the academic progression requirements where they are adding a work placement to their original course of study or applying for further permission to complete their course following a work placement. These students can apply for permission to stay to complete their placement from within the UK.

    Work Placements Involving Professional Performance

    Students studying music, drama or dance can undertake work placements which involve a professional performance without being in breach of the employment restrictions, where the:

    • course is at degree level or above (meaning courses of at least RQF Level 6 or SCQF level 9)
    • performance has been arranged by the sponsoring education provider and is an integral and assessed part of the course

    Sports-related Work Placements

    In certain circumstances, Students and Child Students are permitted to undertake a sports-related work placement as part of their course. These are permitted where the placement is an integral and assessed part of their course and does not involve the student filling a permanent vacancy. Additionally, Students and Child Students must not take up a role that requires them to play or coach sport as part of a work placement, unless they are doing so as an amateur.

    Postgraduate Doctors and Dentists

    Postgraduate doctors and dentists can undertake a work placement if they choose to do so in addition to working:

    • on the foundation programme
    • an additional 20 hours per week during term-time – if their sponsor is a higher education provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance

    7. Doctorate Extension Scheme Students

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    If a Student has successfully completed a PhD at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance, and has been granted permission to remain as a Student on the doctorate extension scheme or has made a valid application for permission to remain on the doctorate extension scheme, then the Student is permitted to work in any role, except employment as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach).

    8. Student Union Sabbatical Officers

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    A Student Union Sabbatical Officer post is elected by the members of a students’ union. It is a full-time salaried position with funds coming from the students’ union itself, or directly from the educational institution.

    The licensed student sponsor continues to be responsible for the applicant during the period where the applicant is employed as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer. Therefore, sponsor duties continue during this period. Applicants are allowed to take up a post as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer at the institution they are sponsored by. However, they are also able to be elected to a position with the National Union of Students (NUS).

    Sabbatical Years

    Sabbatical years are either taken in-between years of study (for example between years 2 and 3 of a typical degree), or immediately after graduation. If the applicant wants to do the job after graduation, and their permission to stay as a Student doesn’t cover the period of employment, then they need to apply again and meet the Student Union Sabbatical Officer requirement.

    Please note, the requirement that a work placement be no more than 50% of an applicant’s overall course in the UK does not include any period that the applicant is in post as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

    9. Volunteering

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    Students and Child Students can volunteer while they are studying. Voluntary work is distinct from volunteering.

    A Student 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 they are permitted to work during term time. For example, if a student is permitted to work 20 hours a week during term-time and has paid work of 15 hours a week, they cannot do more than 5 hours voluntary work. If they are not permitted to work, they cannot do voluntary work.

    Child Students aged 16 and over can undertake voluntary work.

    Voluntary Work Vs. Volunteering

    Factors to take into account 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 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

    10. Self-Employment

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    A Student or Child Student will be engaging in business activity if they are working for a business in which they have a financial or other significant beneficial interest in a capacity other than as an employee.

    Some examples which would be considered to be engaging in business activity are below. This is not an exhaustive list, but provides examples of activities which meet the definition of a Student or Child Student engaging in business activity:

    • setting up a business as a sole trader or under a partnership arrangement and that business is either trading or establishing a trading presence
    • being employed by a company in which they hold shares of 10% or more (including where the shares are held in a trust for them)
    • working for a company where they also hold a statutory role, such as a director

    Start-up

    A migrant on student visa cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity in the UK. However, if the migrant on student visa is awaiting a decision on an application for permission to stay as a Start-up migrant, which is supported by an endorsement from a qualifying HEP with a track record of compliance, then the migrant is permitted to do work as self-employed.

    ST 26.8. A Student may be self-employed, if:
    (a) they have applied for permission on the Start-up route; and
    (b) that application is supported by an endorsement from a Start-up route endorsing body which is a higher education provider with a track record of compliance; and
    (c) the application was made when the applicant had permission as a Student; and
    (d) a decision has not been made on the application, or where the application has been refused, any Administrative Review against a refusal has not been finally determined.

    Immigration Rules Appendix Student

    11. Professional Sportsperson

    Student Visa with Work Permit (Permission) in UK

    Students and Child Students are not permitted to engage in professional sport (including coaching) during their permission but are able to participate in amateur sport.

    “Amateur” means a person who engages in a sport or creative activity solely for personal enjoyment and who is not seeking to derive a living from the activity.

    Immigration Rules Paragraph 6.2

    Prohibited Sports Activities

    If a student is engaging in any of the following activity, they may be considered to be engaging in professional sport:

    • providing services as a sportsperson, playing or coaching in any capacity, at a professional or semi-professional level of sport
    • receiving payment, including payment in kind, for playing or coaching that is covering all, or the majority of, their costs for travelling to, and living in the UK
    • being registered to a professional or semi-professional sports team – this includes all academy and development team age groups
    • representing a national team within the previous 2 years, including all youth and development age groups from under 17’s upwards
    • representing a state or regional team within the previous 2 years, including all youth and development age groups from under 17’s upwards
    • established an international reputation in their chosen field of sport
    • engaging an agent or representative, with the aim of finding opportunities as a sportsperson, and/or developing a current or future career as a sportsperson

    Sports Scholarship

    In certain circumstances a Student or Child Student may be offered a sports scholarship to assist in studying within the UK. Where an applicant is required to play or coach sport in exchange for receiving the scholarship, this activity is only permitted if they are studying a course at degree level or above, at a higher education provider and the scholarship has been awarded for playing or coaching sport at an amateur level for their Student sponsor or British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS). This will not be considered a breach of the professional sportsperson restrictions.