Working during study as Student visa holder

Updated on 8 April 2021

Your ability to work will depend on the conditions of your visa, if you are able to work you will also need to apply for a National Insurance Number

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If you hold a Student visa you may be able to work while studying however you will need to check you are allowed, and apply for documentaton before you start a job. There is more detailed advice at UKCISA's student work guide.

Can I work while I study in the UK?

Check what your passport sticker (entry clearance or residence permit) or identity card says.

You cannot work in the UK if your passport sticker or identity card says:

  • No work
  • Work prohibited

This means that you must not undertake any paid or unpaid employment, including work placement(s) which are part of your course.

You can work in the UK if your passport sticker or identity card says one of the following:

  • Work (and any changes) must be authorised
  • Able to work as authorised by the Secretary of State
  • Work as in Tier 4/Student visa rules
  • Restricted Work. P/T term time. F/T vacations
  • Restricted work term time
  • Work limited to max 20 hrs per week during term-time

You must ensure that you comply with these restrictions that apply to you, as it is a criminal offence to breach any immigration conditions.

How many hours can I work during my studies?

If you are here on a Student visa, you can normally work up to 20 hours per week during semester and full-time during holidays, unless you are studying a 12 month course where holidays are limited.

Work placements as part of your course

In most cases, you must not spend more than 50% of the time on your course undertaking one or more work placements. The placement must also be an assessed part of your course which can take place at any point during your studies. This limit does not apply where working more than 50% of your course is an essential requirement by law, such as a Postgraduate Diploma in Education PGDE.

Paying income tax and National Insurance contributions

You need to pay Income Tax and National Insurance if you earn over a certain amount in a single tax year.

Employees and employers both pay National Insurance contributions, which help to fund certain benefits, for example, the state pension and jobseeker's allowance.

You need to apply for a National Insurance Number, which is used to record your National Insurance Contributions.

Apply for a National Insurance Number

You can apply for a National Insurance number if all of the following are true:

  • you live in England, Scotland, or Wales
  • you entered the UK on a visa that’s still valid (and has not been extended in the UK)
  • you have the right to work in the UK

Call the National Insurance number application line to ask for an application form.

National Insurance number application line (England, Scotland and Wales)
Telephone: +44 (0)800 141 2075
Textphone: +44 (0)800 141 2438

Calls to 0800 numbers are free from UK landlines and mobiles.

Apply for a National Insurance Number -

You will be required to return the application form along with your proof of identity and your right to work or study in the UK. You’ll be told which documents you can use as proof when you get your application form.

You may be given a temporary NI number while your application is being processed.

You will not need to have a face-to-face interview during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

My employer says I must prove I can work during my studies

If you have a passport sticker or identity card that does not prohibit work, you are allowed to undertake employment in compliance with the restrictions mentioned in the permission, without getting any further approval or permission. See UKCISA website for further advice.

Your employer can check with UKVI that you are allowed to work. Employers have a legal obligation to check that you are allowed to work in the UK, so you must be able to provide evidence of this, usually by showing them your passport.

Can my family members work while I study in the UK?

Your dependants should be allowed to work if you are given permission to be in the UK for 12 months or more to study at postgraduate level only.

If your course is at any level and your student immigration permission is under 12 months long, or if you are studying a course which is below degree level and which is not a "foundation degree", your family members will not be allowed to work.


International Advice Service

+44 (0)1382 385676