Students Staff

Working in the UK during your studies

Whether you can work during your studies depends on what type of immigration permission you have. Your visa will say if you can work in the UK and, if so, how many hours per week during term time.

If you are a European national with settled or pre-settled status in UK you can work freely. Please read the UKCISA guidance for more information. If you are have a Student or other type of visa then the information below will apply to you.

If you are unsure what conditions you have been given or don't understand on your entry clearance sticker/BRP, please read the below information and if it’s still unclear, call UKCISA’s Student Advice line for advice.

Student visa

You can work if your Student visa (Entry Clearance vignette or Biometric Residence Permit) says you can, provided you haven’t stopped studying before completing your course. The hours you can work and type of work you can do are restricted and this is one of the conditions of your immigration permission, full details can be found in the Student Immigration Rules. If you breach your work conditions this is a criminal offence so make sure you know what you can do before you start work.

Where you are permitted to work, the intention is that this should be to supplement your income whilst studying (in most cases we expect this to be taking a part-time role for an established business/organisation(for example, a customer service role at a retailer) or as part of a work placement provided it is an integral and assessed part of your course)."

If you have dependants in the UK who want to work they should check the wording on their immigration documents. Further information is available from UKCISA and if you have any further questions you’ll need to call their Student Advice line.

Before you start work, we highly recommend you read the UKCISA information including the UKCISA blog for more information on the types of work you can or can’t do.

  • What type of work can I do?

    The type of work you can do for the whole duration of your student visa is restricted, including as a work placement and during the time between your course finishing and your visa expiring. You must not do any type of work that is not allowed, to do so would mean that you would be breaching your immigration conditions, this is a criminal offence.

    You must not:

    • be self-employed or engage in business activity (read the Student Visa Policy Guidance for a definition)
    • be employed as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach
    • be employed as a professional entertainer
    • take a permanent full-time job (except as an elected SU sabbatical officer)
    • work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you are on the foundation programme

    Before you start work, please read the UKCISA information including their UKCISA blog for more information on the types of work you can or can’t do.

    If you aren’t sure whether a particular job would be allowed after reading the UKCISA guidance, please call their student advice line to ask for advice.

  • Volunteering

    You might want to be a volunteer during your time in the UK. There is a difference between unpaid employment (voluntary work) and volunteering, and you should always check with the organisation that offers you a volunteering opportunity whether it can be regarded as unpaid employment. This is because time you spend doing unpaid employment counts towards your maximum number of hours of work a week.

    The Government has produced information about the difference between voluntary work and volunteering with some useful examples. Read the UKCISA guidance for more information.

  • How many hours can I work per week while I’m studying?

    Essex students sponsored for a student visa should have a condition allowing the following hours of work per week in term time:

    • Degree students – 20 hours
    • Below degree level students – 10 hours

    You must only work the hours stated on your visa. You cannot exceed the hours in any individual week. A ‘week’ is defined in the Immigration Rules as 7 days starting on a Monday. In your vacations you can work longer hours but must check what term time means for you and when you have official vacations. If you work more hours than you should, you will be in breach of your immigration conditions, this is a criminal offence.

    If you're an elected Sabbatical Officer, you can work up to the restricted hours stated on your visa in other employment. This is in addition to the full time Sabbatical Officer post.

    If you are on an integral and assessed work placement as part of your course you can work full time in the work placement. In addition, you can do other allowed part-time work within the weekly limit stated on your visa.

    If your visa shows a different number of hours per week than stated above or states "no work" this could be an error. Please contact our International Services team and we will check it for you and advise you how to have it amended by the Home Office if it’s incorrect.

    Work is a valuable experience, but your studies come first so, even if your visa allows you to work 20 hours a week the University recommends you do less than this.

  • When are my term times and vacations?

    The University's standard term times and vacations do not apply to all students. If you want to work more hours in your vacations, you must check when the University considers you to be on vacation. As a rough guide only:

    • Below degree level students – term time will depend on the course you are studying.
    • Undergraduate degree students starting their course in October – will have three terms with vacations at Christmas, Easter and in the summer.
    • 1 year Masters students starting their course in October – will have vacations at Christmas and Easter only.
    • 1 year Masters students starting their course in January – vacations vary depending on your course.
    • PhD students – do not have standard vacations and should only work part-time.
  • Work Placements

    Work placements part of your course

    You may be able to undertake a work placement that is an assessed and integral part of your course. The University must check the work placement meets the Student Visa requirements and report the work placement to the Home Office. For Essex degree level students it must not form more than 50% of your course duration (as stated on your CAS). Work placements can be paid or unpaid.

    In addition to an integral and assessed work placement you can also take other allowed types of employment up to the weekly hourly limit stated on your visa.

    The working restrictions regarding the type of work you are allowed to do also apply to a work placement unless there is a specific exception in the Student Immigration Rules and guidance.

    Work placements/internships alongside your course

    If you undertake a work placement alongside your study that isn’t integral, assessed and agreed by the University, you must count the hours within your weekly limit.

    Read the UKCISA guidance for more information about work placements.

  • Breaching your working conditions – type of work and hours

    If you undertake any work that is not allowed or work more hours than you should, you will be considered to be in breach of your immigration conditions. This is a criminal offence and can have very serious consequences for you and for the University’s Student Sponsor licence.

    If you are concerned that you may have broken your conditions please seek advice from SU Advice, an independent, confidential Students' Union service.

  • I’ve finished my course when can I work full time?

    After the course end date on your CAS you can work full-time hours until your visa expires provided you have finished all elements of your course and have no further study. However, the type of work you can do is still restricted as per the Student Immigration Rules until your visa expiry date and you must make sure you do not take a job that means you would be in breach of your work conditions as this is a criminal offence. For instance, you cannot work in a full time permanent position.

    PhD students can work full time after they have been awarded their PhD and submitted their thesis into our Research Repository until their Student visa expires. If the duration of your course increases, you must continue to work part-time hours until you have fully completed your studies.

    If you withdraw, intermit or take a leave of absence from your course you must stop working immediately as you will no longer have the right to work in the UK even if your visa hasn’t been curtailed (cut short).

    We highly recommend you read the UKCISA information including the UKCISA blog for more information on the types of work you can or can’t do with a student visa, before you take a job.

    If you have applied for permission to stay in the UK under the Graduate route, you’ll be able to start work under those conditions when the Graduate permission to stay has been granted to you, not before. For more information about the Graduate and other work routes, read the UKCISA guidance on working after studies and contact their Student Advice line or your employer if you have any questions, our advisers aren’t able to offer advice about work routes.

  • Requesting written confirmation of your term dates and vacations from the University

    Your employer must check your visa allows you to work and if there are any restrictions. You must have a valid visa in a valid passport or a valid Biometric Residence Permit. To employ someone with a student visa, an employer also has to have written confirmation from the University confirming your term dates and vacations.

    To request confirmation of your term and vacation dates, contact our International Services Team. You must be studying in the UK with a valid Student visa, be registered and have completed your Right to Study check. We receive a large volume of requests and will need to know the date you will start work and the name of your employer. Please be aware that it may take up to two weeks for this to be produced and can take much longer around the start of the academic year, so we recommend asking us 4 weeks before you are due to start work, if possible.

    You will be sent an email confirming your term and vacation dates which can be forwarded onto your employer, if you want us to send it direct to your employer you’ll need to ask us. We will not confirm your term or vacation dates in any other format as this is not a Home Office requirements, your employer should refer to the Home Office’s publication for employers, An employer's guide to right to work checks and Home Office caseworker guidance, Student and Child Student.

    If your employer has any questions about your work conditions, they would need to contact the Home Office, we will not be able to advise them.

    Your passport has expired

    If the passport your visa is in has expired, you will have to apply to transfer your visa to a Biometric Residence Permit if you want to work.

    Working at the University

    If you will be working for the University and have any questions about the right to work documents, please email Human Resources resourcing@essex.ac.uk.

National Insurance and Income Tax

Information about Income Tax and National Insurance is available from HM Revenue and Customs. We can’t answer questions about National Insurance and Income Tax, you’ll need to refer to the HMRC website to find out who you can contact.

Finding work

Our Student Services Hub can help you find work and provide information about employment rights.