Can you work in the UK as an international student?

You may be wondering whether I will be able to work whilst studying in the UK. The good news is that you can work as an international student but there are strict restrictions on the type and amount of work you will be able to do. International students must demonstrate they have sufficient funds to support themselves in order to get a visa. So they cannot rely on income from work but it can be a good way to supplement their own funds.

We have written this piece for you that highlights the general guidelines applicable to international students. We have deliberately kept it brief and easy to read as we know these rules can be lengthy and overwhelming! But you can, and should, check out the latest regulations on the official government website.

Let’s dig deeper…

What kinds of work am I ALLOWED to do?

You can:

work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time (a week is defined as seven days from Monday to Sunday) if you are on a full-time degree-level programme.

work a maximum of 10 hours per week during term time if you are studying full-time below degree level.

work full time during university vacation periods and, until your visa expires even if that means it is after your programme has ended.

work on a placement or internship if that is an integral and assessed part of your studies

work as a sabbatical officer for a student’s union for a maximum of two years

It is important to note here that this guidance is subject to change, so you should always have a look at your visa or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to check the latest guidance on working in the UK as an international student.

What kinds of work am I NOT allowed to do?

You cannot:

work as a self-employed person, this includes working in the gig economy such as Uber drivers and Deliveroo.

undertake a full time internship or work placement which is NOT an integral and assessed part of your studies

do business activity, which includes selling commercially online e.g. through ebay

work as a sports person, coach or entertainer

be in any kind of a full time and permanent position.

What are the university guidelines?

Although there is a higher limit on the number of hours per week you can work, universities generally recommend the following:

undergraduate and postgraduate students should work no more than 15 hours per week

postgraduate research students should work no more than 9 hours per week

This is recommended so that you have a good work life balance. University courses are challenging and will take up most of your time during an average week. Working more than the above guidelines can result in you becoming exhausted and compromising your studies, which in turn can lead to poor mental health.

Can I volunteer?

Yes, you can volunteer whilst studying under the conditions that:

you are not working on a contract

you are not doing unpaid work (i.e receiving payments in kind)

You will generally find most volunteering opportunities in a charity or in a public sector organisation. You can find and learn more about volunteering in the UK on the governmemt website . Also, you can get in touch with your university that may be able to assist you with finding relevant opportunities.

We have done our best to keep the rules brief and easy to read! The most important thing to emphasise is that you must read and adhere to the restrictions given on your visa sticker or on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as these rules may be different for individual students. If you break the rules, you are breaking the law, which could result in your visa being cancelled and you could also be deported, which will make applying for another visa (of any kind) much more difficult

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Haider Shah
Haider is a graduate in business management and has a strong interest in written content creation
Published on 18 February 2022
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