Working in the UK on a Student Visa

A student’s eligibility to work on a Student or Tier 4 Visa will depend on their level of study and whether they are in term time or vacation. The University recommends working no more than 16 hours per week during term time.

COVID-19 Update

The information on this webpage is affected by new temporary guidance that has been released by UKVI in light of the situation with COVID-19. There is a summary of how this affects usual procedures here.

Restrictions on Type of Work

Where you are on a Student or Tier 4 visa, both during and after your studies, you are not permitted to:

  • be self-employed or engaged in business activity*
  • fill a full-time permanent vacancy/graduate level role (unless it is a post as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer)
  • be employed as a doctor/dentist in training** or as a professional sportsperson, coach or entertainer

* If you are applying for a visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme, please see below for information on when this restriction is removed. This restriction is also removed if you:

  • apply for a Start Up Visa supported by an endorsement from the University;and
  • submit the Start Up Visa application before your Student or Tier 4 Visa expires; and
  • you are still waiting for a decision on the Start Up Visa application or for an administrative review to be determined following a refusal of your Start Up visa application.

For information on the application process for a Start Up Visa endorsement, please see here.

** If you submitted the application for the Student visa you currently have on or after 1 December 2020, you will not be subject to this restriction.

Professional Sportsperson

You are not permitted to work as a professional sportsperson. It is important that you check UKVI's definition (pages 102 & 103 of the Student Guidance) of a professional sportsperson before you provide any services or take part in sporting activities.

Provided your visa was issued after 1 October 2019, you are permitted to do the following:

  • Play or coach sports as an “amateur” in a charity event
  • Play or coach sports as an “amateur” whilst studying at degree level or above at the University
  • Play or coach sports as part of a work placement which is part of your course.

Note – “amateur” is defined as ‘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’.

Sports Scholarships

This will not be considered to breach your work restrictions where you are:

  • studying at degree level or above; and
  • you are required to play or coach sport in exchange for receiving the scholarship; and
  • the scholarship is awarded for playing or coaching sport at an amateur level for The University of Sheffield or British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS).

If you are unsure how this applies to your situation please contact us.

Eligibility to Work During Study

Where you are studying in the UK on a Visitor or Short-Term Student Visa you are not permitted to work at any time, including unpaid/voluntary work.

Where you are on a Student or Tier 4 Student Visa, your eligibility to work will be outlined on your visa vignette or BRP card, and in your visa decision letter.

Please note 'vacation' also includes the periods before your course starts and after your course ends.

English Language Teaching Students

  • During vacations you can work full-time.
  • During term time you can work up to 10 hours per week.

Undergraduate Students

  • During vacations you can work full-time.
  • During term time you can work up to 20 hours per week.

Taught Postgraduate Students

  • During Christmas and Easter vacations you can work full-time (before doing so you must read the additional guidance below)
  • During term time you can work up to 20 hours per week.
  • Term time conditions apply during the summer term until after you submit your dissertation.

Additional guidance 20-21 academic year:

Due to the shorter academic year for PGT students you may find that your department has scheduled formal studying/teaching sessions during the Christmas and Easter vacation periods. If so, please ensure you work no more than the term-time limit until you have finished all study sessions. You would then be able to work full-time for the remainder of the vacation. If you intend to work full-time during these vacation periods and are concerned about this, please contact us before doing so.

Postgraduate Research Students

  • During term time you can work up to 20 hours per week.
  • You are considered to be in term time all year unless you have written permission from your supervisor to take a period of annual leave.
  • You are permitted a maximum of 8 weeks’ vacation a year which must be agreed by your supervisor. During this time you can work full-time.

Proving Your Right to Work

Where your employer requires evidence of your right to work, you should provide a Certificate of Student Status and your passport and/or Biometric Residence Permit.

Request a Certificate of Student Status

Where your employer requires further confirmation of your entitlement to work, they can contact the Home Office Employers’ Helpline on the page below.

Checking an Applicants Right to Work

Work Placements

You are permitted to undertake a work placement if:

  • the placement is an integral and assessed part of your course; and
  • it constitutes no more than 50% of the course duration (unless there is a statutory requirement for it to do so)

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

Where you are adding a work placement/year in industry to your degree after registering at the University, you will need to apply for a visa extension. For more information on the implications of this, visit the page below.

Work Placements with Professional Performance

This will not be considered to breach your work restrictions where you are:

  • 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

Academic Progression for Continuing Students

Volunteering and Voluntary Work

You are permitted to volunteer in the UK on a Tier 4 Student Visa. Hours spent volunteering will not be included in your permitted working hours.

As a volunteer you:

  • do not have a contract of employment
  • do not take the place of an employee
  • do not receive payment
  • usually help a registered charity or voluntary or public sector organisation

You are permitted to undertake voluntary work in the UK. Voluntary work will be counted in your permitted working hours.

As a voluntary worker you:

  • are usually paid in some form
  • often have a contract with an employer

You should check with your organisation whether your work is regarded as unpaid volunteer work or paid voluntary work.

Eligibility to Work After Studies

Following the successful completion of your course you will have been granted a wrap up period, during this time your visa will remain valid.

You can work full-time during this period, however you still face the same restrictions on the types of work you are permitted to do.

You will only be permitted to take on a permanent role if you have obtained an alternative immigration status. You can get help on applying for a visa in a work category from the Student Advice Centre.

You are considered to have completed your studies in the following instances:

  • Where you are a PhD student, you are considered to have completed your course once you have submitted the final e-copy of your corrected thesis. 
  • Where you are a PhD student applying under the Doctorate Extension Schme (DES), you can work full time after submitting your final e-copy, but you will still face the same restrictions on the type of work you are allowed to do. Only after you have received the official notification of degree award and you have submitted a DES visa application that is still pending with the Home Office or if you have received the official notification of degree award and have been granted a DES visa, the only restrictions on the type of work you can do are that:

- you cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training;

- you cannot work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach  

  • Where you are a masters or undergraduate student, you are considered to have completed your course once you have completed all required assessments by the course end date as stated on your CAS.
  • Where you complete your course early and your visa is curtailed to four months after the new end date, you can continue to work for a maximum of four months after the completion of your course or until the end of your visa (whichever is sooner).

Tax and National Insurance

Where you are working in the UK, National Insurance will be automatically deducted from your wages.
Before you start your job, you must apply for a National Insurance Number which ensures your tax contributions are recorded against your name.

Where you earn over £12,500 your income may be taxable. Please visit the HM Revenue & Customs website below for more information.

Income Tax

Finding a Job

The Student Jobshop can provide advice on working in the UK and help you find a job or voluntary position.

Student Jobshop

See Also

UKCISA Information - Working in the UK