Working in the UK during your studies

International students who hold a Student/Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK are subject to working restrictions imposed by UKVI (UK Visas & Immigration). Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card or vignette indicates the maximum number of hours you can work during term-time. This includes both paid and voluntary work. All students are prohibited from engaging in business and from self-employment, nor are they allowed to provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer. You can find further information on the UKCISA webpages.

Breaching any of these conditions and taking up work where you do not have the appropriate permission is considered illegal working and may affect your immigration record and have other serious consequences. Please read the “What are the risks should a student work in excess of their conditions?” section lower down to learn more.

Student/Tier 4 visa students and working for the University - compliance with UKVI restrictions

If you take casual employment at the University of Bristol you will be employed through the Temporary Staffing Service (TSS). TSS will assess all students' right to take up a work assignment and document it appropriately.

You are allowed to work in the UK if:

  1. Your Student/Tier 4 BRP or vignette in passport states 'Work 10hrs max in term-time' or 'Work 20hrs max in term-time', or;
  2. Your BRP states 'Restricted Work, no work as a sportsperson’ (usually appears on Dependant BRPs), or;
  3. You are from the EU/EEA/Switzerland, and you have a settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  4. You have immigration permission in a different category that allows you to work in the UK

Working limits for Student/Tier 4 visa students

If you require a letter for your employer giving information about your working conditions as a Tier 4/Student visa holder, please visit this page for more information about how you can request this.

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Please note that the 20 or 10 hour per week limitations are per week – the periods worked cannot be averaged over a month or any other period. This limitation exists for both work within the University and for outside organisations, so employers of visa students should also remind those students of these restrictions if aware of work undertaken outside of the University. The permitted number of hours must fit into a 7 day period starting on a Monday and ending on a Sunday.

What types of work are allowed under Student/Tier 4 visa?

There are various types of work, such as paid and unpaid work; paid and unpaid work placements undertaken as part of a course of study or period of study; self-employment; and engaging in business activity.

As a Tier 4/Student visa holder the types of work you can undertake are restricted to paid and unpaid work as an employee of a company/organisation; and paid and unpaid work placements undertaken as part of a course of study or period of study. Student/Tier 4 students are prohibited from self-employment; and engaging in business activity, nor are they allowed to provide services as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach) or entertainer.

Working on a contracting basis can be considered self- employment. This government page provides some information on the subject. 

As the way people work is evolving, there are certain activities that do not fit into the traditional categories described above. We recommend you read and read UKCISA’s Blog: A working definition as it addresses a range of non-standard scenarios, including working while not physically in the UK.

Official Work Placements

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. A student can therefore work up to 20 hours per week in casual employment with an employer outside of their placement, whilst on a work placement that is an assessed, integral part of a course. 

A work placement that is an integral and assessed part of a course is usually organised through the University and reported to the UKVI as an official placement by the Student Visa Compliance team. This is usually, but not always, a placement undertaken as part of a Year in Industry, or as part of degree in Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary medicine. Provided the placement is reported to the UKVI, such work is not subject to the limit on the number hours as it is then considered to be part of your course.

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

If a student is found to be in breach of their working conditions, the student could be subject to curtailment of their visa and deportation, which has happened in the past for students at other institutions. It is also a criminal offence for students to exceed their working hours and an employer can be fined, so the implications can be very serious.

If the University becomes aware of a breach in working hours, we would need to make an assessment as to whether to continue to sponsor the student’s Student/Tier 4 visa. If you disclose any details to us that lead us to believe that you have broken the conditions of your visa, the University also has the obligation to report this to UKVI as this is one of our duties as a Student/Tier 4 visa Sponsor. Please read our Student visa essential information page for further details.

What can affect a student's working permissions?

Further information

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