Employment during and after your studies

Employment during and after your studies

Whilst you are in the UK under the conditions of a student visa, studying must be your main priority. It is your responsibility to check what has been written on your vignette (visa in your passport) or Biometric Residence Permit to ensure that you do not breach the conditions of your visa. Therefore, before taking any work it is vital that you discuss your plans with your supervisor or personal tutor.

You should also keep in mind that, as a full-time student, it is expected that you complete your studies within the usual timeframe for your course of study. Extensions requested as a result of a student having neglected his or her studies in favour of taking up paid employment would not normally be approved.

Prospective students, student visitors and all other visitor categories carry a work prohibition.

The conditions of a General Student or Tier 4 (General) visa dictates that you must not:

  • fill a full-time permanent vacancy
  • be self-employed
  • be employed as a doctor or dentist in training (unless on a recognised Foundation Programme)
  • be employed as a professional sportsperson or entertainer

Where you are following a course of degree level study or above (excluding a foundation degree), the following work is allowed:

  • Part-time during term-time (no more than 20 hours per week)

  • Full-time during vacations (This does not apply to Postgraduate students – see below)

  • Full time on a work placement provided that it is an assessed part of the course and is not more than 50% of the total length of the course

Where you are following a course of study below degree level (including a foundation degree), the following work is allowed:

  • Part-time during term time (no more than 10 hours per week)
  • Full-time during vacations
  • Full time on a work placement as an assessed part of a course

New regulations introduced by the Home Office on 16 May 2014 now mean that Entry Clearance vignettes (visas granted overseas) must be presented in a current passport to enable the holder to work. If your Tier 4 visa vignette is in an expired passport, in accordance with new regulation, you will not be permitted to work.

If you hold a valid Tier 4 visa inside an expired passport you can apply to have the conditions of this visa transferred to a new passport and be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit, which will enable you to work. To do this you will need to use the Transfer of Conditions (TOC) Form. From April 2015 the cost of making a postal TOC application will be £183.

The average processing time for a TOC postal application is 6-8 weeks during which time you will not have access to your passport. A premium application route is available for an additional cost of £400 which would normally take 7-10 days to be processed. You are entitled to work while the TOC application is in progress subject to your employer conducting relevant checks with the Home Office which confirm an application is underway.

The Immigration Service can assist with TOC applications, just book an appointment to meet with an adviser.

Postgraduate Taught

For Masters students (regardless of the length of the Masters course i.e. 1, 2, 3 years) the University term dates are irrelevant. A Masters student is only entitled to work part time (up to 20 hours per week) until the course end date has passed. For Tier 4 students this end date is the course end date stated on the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) which was used to obtain the current Tier 4 visa application, or the revised course end date in the case of academic extension by recommendation of the Board of Examiners, whichever is latest.

However, we are aware that some employers may not accept this, and would insist that a Postgraduate Taught student is entitled to work full time only after their degree is conferred. This is because until the degree is conferred, there is always a possibility that students may be required to re-submit their thesis/retake exams and therefore, revert back to a full time student with a period of ‘academic extension’.

The official course end date cannot be brought forward, even in the case that all elements of the course are completed/dissertation submitted before this official end date. Students who undertake full time employment after the official course end date but before the date of the Board of Examiners do so at their own risk and on the understanding that, if it is recommended that the award not be conferred and further study is required to complete the course, they will return to restricted work rights (20 hours per week) during this period of extension. Furthermore, if the Exam Board recommends that the student be permanently or temporarily withdrawn, the student should notify their employer of this change in circumstance and follow our advice here.

The only exceptions to the above are the official dates upon which the University closes, such as Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. After the official course end date, a student can work full-time provided that it is on a temporary or rolling contract and not a permanent position.

Postgraduate Research

As is the case for Masters students, for Postgraduate Research students University term dates are also irrelevant. A PGR student is only entitled to work part time (up to 20 hours per week) until their course end date has passed. This will be from the date that his or her degree is officially conferred by Senate and not from the thesis submission date or viva date.

The only exceptions are the official dates upon which the University closes, such as Christmas Day and Boxing Day, or during a period of Authorised Absence taken as a ‘vacation’ (this is strictly limited to 6 weeks per year).

After the official course end date, a student can work full-time provided that it is on a temporary or rolling contract and not a permanent position.

Pre-sessional English, PEPS, Visiting Students

If you hold a Tier 4 (General) Student visa and are enrolled on a course of study that is taught outside of the regular University term dates, for example the 5 or 10-week pre-sessional English course, you should refer to the course start and end dates on your CAS and not work more than the number of hours permitted by the conditions of your leave during this period. This advice also applies to Visiting Students with Tier 4 leave who are enrolled outside of the normal University term dates. You may work full time during the period of leave granted before and after the official course start dates included in your CAS.

PEPS students and Visiting/Exchange Students who are enrolled with Student Visitor Visas are prohibited from undertaking any kind of work during their stay in the UK.

When am I allowed to work full-time?

For students who are here on a Tier 4 visa, you need to ensure you continue to adhere to conditions attached to your visa around how many hours you are permitted to work per week. If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student you should only be working up to a maximum of 20 hours per week until the end date that appeared on your CAS. Undergraduates are permitted to work full-time during University vacations only (for postgraduate students, there are no official University vacations). Once the end date on your CAS has passed, you are allowed to work full-time but cannot fill a permanent vacancy.

If you are a PhD student should only work up to 20 hours per week until your degree has been conferred. Once your degree has been conferred you can work full-time.

Students who leave their course early need to be aware that once they are no longer studying a course they are not entitled to work, regardless of when their permission to be in the UK ends.

I have completed my studies. Is it ok if I leave the UK then return before my visa expires to switch into a different immigration category?

If you leave the UK once your course end date has passed, it is highly likely that you will be refused entry to the UK should you attempt to re-enter on your current visa.This is because your Tier 4 visa was issued for study. As your course of study is now complete, study is no longer the main purpose for your stay in the UK. Therefore there is a strong possibility that you will not be permitted to return to the UK once your course end date has passed.Please bear this in mind when thinking about leaving the UK after your studies, as some working visa categories require applications to be made from within the UK, and some categories offer concessions for those applicants who are making their visa application from within the UK.Even though you may have existing leave on your visa, once you exit the UK after your course end date has passed, you should not attempt to re-enter on that visa.

How do I answer the question on a job application about whether I have immigration permission which allows me to work in the UK?

A lot of job applications ask the question ‘Do you have permission to work in the UK?’ As a student in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, it is clear that you will need to switch to a different visa category in order to take a permanent full-time position and so you cannot simply answer yes to this question. We would therefore advise that you make direct contact with the employer to inform them you would like to make an application and to explain your immigration status in the UK. You can inform them that you would be eligible to make an application to switch into a work category (i.e. Tier 2) if they were in a position to sponsor you. You are advised to check whether an employer is on the register of Tier 2 or Tier 5 sponsors if you require an employer to sponsor you.

Voluntary year out

It is not possible for a Tier 4 visa holder to take part in Voluntary Year Out Scheme. If you are here on a non-PBS student visa, it may be possible for you to take a year out of your studies to work if you participate in the University of Voluntary Year Out scheme. You must have gained approval from your department and from the Academic Office before taking a year out under this scheme.

Job Hunting

There are various ways of finding out about job vacancies. You could use the University temping agency, Unitemps or use a JobCentre Plus in Coventry or Leamington, or look for local ads in newspapers or shop/restaurant windows. For more details, visit our website listed below. You may also use the Student Careers and Skills centre.

National Insurance Number

You will need an ‘NI’ number if you are undertaking any kind of work in the UK. To apply you should telephone 0845 600 643. Your personal details will be taken and the application forms will be posted to you.

Income Tax

Income tax (and NI contributions) are automatically deducted from your pay once you reach a minimum level of earnings in the UK. The 2013/14 tax free allowance for somebody born after 5 April 1948 is £9,440. If you earn below this level then you do not need to pay income tax or National Insurance. If you only work during university vacations and do not expect to earn more than the annual tax free allowance then you can complete a form so that your employer will not deduct income tax. See http://www.direct.gov.uk/ for more information.

EEA and Swiss Nationals

Nationals of Austria, Belgium, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, and their dependants, have no restriction on the hours and type of work they can undertake whilst studying in the UK.

Nationals of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and their dependants also have no limitations on hours or type of work. There is no longer a need for nationals of these countries to apply for permission to work and you now have the same rights to work in the UK as other EU nationals.

Students from Bulgaria and Romania may also work during their studies, but must register under the Worker Authorisation Scheme. See the Home Office website for details and application forms. Registration certificates issued to Bulgarian and Romanian students will state that they can work up to 20 hours a week unless they are following a course with vocational training and are working as part of that training or they are working during their vacation.

Please note that it is possible to submit your national identity card instead of your passport with a BR1 application.

On 1 July 2013, Croatia accedes to the EU. From this date, Croatian nationals wishing to work in the UK will be required to apply for a yellow registration certificate to do so. Croatian nationals who are already in the UK with Tier 4 leave valid until after 1 July 2013 will be able to continue to work until the end of their visa, in accordance with the working conditions attached to Tier 4. For students who choose to remain in the UK under Tier 4 the University must continue with it’s Tier 4 sponsor licence obligations to report any change of circumstance. Croatian nationals with valid Tier 4 leave are advised to apply for a yellow registation certificate well in advance of their Tier 4 visa expiry, as they will not be permitted to work between the expiry of their Tier 4 leave and the date which the yellow registation certificate is issued. More information can be found via the GOV website.