Doing a work placement on a student visa

Many degree courses will offer you the opportunity to do a placement year, eg a degree with placement year or an Industrial Placement Year, subject to meeting certain visa conditions.


Check if you’re permitted to do a placement 

You can undertake a work placement on your Tier 4 or Student Visa if:

  • you’re studying at the University of Sheffield and your course is at degree level (RQF6) or above; and
  • the placement is an integral and assessed part of your course - meaning you’ll be enrolled on a module that is credit bearing and the placement will form part of the assessment for that module

If your course is below degree level you can only do a placement on your Student Visa if it's:

  • an assessed and integral part of the degree; and
  • no more than one third of the degree unless there is a statutory requirement for it to be so

If you’re in the UK with a visitor visa, you can’t undertake a placement or an internship as this doesn’t permit work. 

If you’re an EU, Swiss or Norwegian student with EUSS pre settled or settled status, you can undertake a work placement as you have unlimited right to work. 

If you hold another type of visa or leave to remain which allows you to work, (eg dependant visa, BN(O) visa) it should be possible to add a placement year to your studies. 

If you’re unsure about your visa’s work conditions, contact the ISSAC team

Placement requirements 


Most placements should be a minimum of 38 weeks. 

The total duration of the placement must not be more than 50% of your course. The only exception is where there’s a statutory requirement for more than 50% (eg some teaching, medical or social work courses).

If you finish your placement early and are unable to return to your studies, this could affect your visa. 

If there’s a break of more than 60 days between the end of your placement and the new academic year, we’d have to report this to UKVI and your visa may be curtailed. This doesn’t include vacation periods. If you’re in this situation, please seek further advice from ISSAC

Working hours and pay

You can work full time during the placement, even during term time. The usual 20 hours per week student visa condition would not apply. You could also work an additional 20 hours a week in another job if you wanted to. 

You’re considered as being in term time whilst you’re on the placement. 

The placement could be paid or unpaid, although we encourage wherever possible that placements are paid.

For information on student working conditions and information for employers, visit: 

Right to work checks: an employer's guide - GOV.UK

Student visa guidance - GOV.UK 

Work placements with professional performance

If you hold a Student Visa you usually can’t work as a professional entertainer. 

However, a work placement which included a professional performance will not be considered as a breach of your work restrictions where you’re:

  • studying music, drama or dance; and
  • your course is at degree level or above; and
  • your performance has been arranged by The University of Sheffield; and
  • your performance is an integral and assessed part of the course

Sports related work placements

You can’t work as a professional sportsperson on your Student Visa. It may be possible to undertake a sports-related work placement where;

  • the placement is an integral and assessed part of the course; and
  • does not involve filling a permanent vacancy; and
  • if you’re required to play or coach sport during, it must be as an amateur

Overseas placements 

We could continue to sponsor your Student Visa if you undertake a work placement overseas and/or as part of a Study Abroad year.

Satisfactory arrangements would need to be in place around attendance monitoring and engagement between you, your department and the overseas employer.

You must also check the work visa requirements for the country you’ll be working in, as your UK Student Visa would not cover you to work in another country.

If you’d be doing the placement as part of a study abroad year you must also check the student visa requirements for the country you’re going to, as your UK student visa wouldn’t cover you to study or work in another country. 

You should check with the relevant embassy of the country whether you can apply for a study visa which will also allow work or if you’d need a separate work permit for the work placement element of the year abroad. You may be able to undertake part time work whilst on your year abroad but this will depend on the type of work permission you have.

The ‘work placement’ element of your Study Abroad would also need to be an integral and assessed part of your degree so we can continue sponsoring you. 

Student visa implications 

If you originally applied to do a course which included a placement year

Your student visa should cover the full duration of the course, including the placement year.

If you’re dropping a placement year after registration with the University

If you’re dropping a placement year and your visa already includes the placement year, we’ll need to inform UKVI that you’re changing your course. As you’ll complete your degree earlier than expected, we’ll inform UKVI when you successfully complete your degree. We’d expect UKVI to cancel your visa, usually 4 months after your course completion date. 

If you’re adding a work placement year to your degree after registering at University

You must apply for a visa extension to cover the additional year. 

In most instances, you can extend your student visa and make the application from inside or outside the UK. You should do this either before you start the placement or afterwards, when you’re returning for your final year of study. 

In most cases, you’ll apply to extend your visa when you’re within three months of your current visa expiry date. You must meet the usual eligibility requirements for the Student visa and pay for a further visa application fee and Immigration Healthcare Surcharge payment.

If you’ve previously changed course or had resits

You may require further advice about how adding a placement could affect your Student visa.

Further information on extending your visa: 

How to add or drop a placement year 

To add or drop a placement year you must complete a change of programme request form and submit this to your academic department. 

Our ISSAC team will provide you with detailed immigration advice as part of this process. You can also contact them for advice before you apply to change your course.

Please read the information and complete the request form on the page below: 

Change your course

Doing a placement that isn’t an integral and assessed part of your course 

If you’re an undergraduate or PGT masters student and you wish to do a placement that isn’t an integral and assessed part of your course, you could undertake a short full time placement/internship during an official vacation period (eg Christmas, Easter, or Summer).

If you’re a PGT student, you can’t work full time during the summer vacation until you’ve completed all exams and submitted your dissertation. 

You could also undertake a short internship/placement during the period between your course completion and visa expiry, as this is also classed as vacation. You can work full time as long as it’s not a permanent role

Otherwise, you can look at part time placement or internship opportunities (under 20 hours per week).

The Graduate Immigration Route visa would also be suitable for internships and work experience programmes, if you’re eligible to apply after you complete your studies.

Taking a leave of absence to undertake a placement 

You wouldn’t usually be allowed to have a Leave of Absence (LOA) to undertake a placement. It’s also unclear whether you’d have the right to work full time in the UK during the LOA period.

Taking a leave of absence from your studies can affect your student visa and has to be reported to UKVI, eg any leave of absence over 60 days must be reported and would mean your visa is cancelled. You’d have to leave the UK and apply for a new visa to return to your studies. 

If you were intending to do a placement overseas then a leave of absence may be an option, if your department agreed to it.

Postgraduate Research students 

Most PGRs with student visas are not able to undertake placements.

To undertake a placement on your visa, it must be classed as an ‘integral and assessed’ part of your course. For example if: 

  • your course is structured with a period of assessed work placement; or
  • your research involves a compulsory data collection process which can only be undertaken on a work placement

If you’re unsure, contact your academic department for further guidance.

If you are permitted to do a placement, please follow the guidance on the page below and submit the placement application form for approval. If accepted, your student record will be updated.

PGR placement application
If you can’t do a placement as part of your course you may be able to use periods of annual leave for a short placement, but this wouldn’t be encouraged.

Alternatively, you could undertake a part time internship/placement in line with the student term time working hour conditions (no more than 20 hours per week). These working hour conditions apply to PGRs all year round, except during periods of agreed holiday. 

Our duties as your visa sponsor 

As your visa sponsor the University must:

  • stay connected with you during your work placement e.g. have regular contact and attendance monitoring arrangements in place with your employer/placement provider
  • let the Home Office know that you will be working for part of your course.

Before you start your work placement, you can get a letter from your academic department to give to your employer confirming that your placement adheres to the student immigration rules. 

Your department can also give you a letter when you’re looking for or applying for placements to give to a prospective employer, explaining your right to undertake a work placement. 

Your department can find further information about this, including draft letter templates, on the staff hub:

Requirements for students under Tier 4

Find a placement

To find out more about placements and how to apply, you can contact the Careers Service or the placement officers in your Department. 

You can also use Career Connect via Muse to look for placement opportunities.

We’ll need to check that any placement meets the necessary health and safety standards before approving a placement.


Contact ISSAC

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