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FAQ Working restrictions

This page features frequently asked questions about the working restrictions which apply for students studying under a Tier 4 visa, and for students who hold a Tier 4 visa who have completed their studies and want to work in the UK.

It is important that you carefully read the questions on this page before contacting the University's Visas and Immigration Student Advice Service. However, if your question has not been answered then please contact us through our online enquiry form.


The Immigration Rules and visa application process inside the UK changed in November 2018. Our webpages will be updated with further details soon. In the meantime, you can find more information about the changes to the visa application process on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

Can I work while I study?

Tier 4 students cannot be self-employed, but they are permitted to undertake paid work during studies. However, the amount of hours work per week is restricted. Your visa will confirm the permitted hours per week that you are allowed to work. Check below to see the working restrictions placed on you dependent on your course.


It is important to note that ALL students and Tier 4 (General) migrants on courses at degree level or above must NOT:

 • Work for more than 20 hours per week in term time, except in the case of an agreed work placement which forms part of the course.

• Engage in business, self-employment or provide services as a professional entertainer or sportsperson.

• Pursue a career by filling a full-time, permanent vacancy.

Pre-sessional English Language Course Students

Students undertaking our pre-sessional English language course are only permitted to work 10 hours per week.

Undergraduate Students

Students undertaking study at undergraduate degree level are restricted to 20 hours per week during term-time (see University Calendar). This is a strict rule; working hours are counted per week and cannot be 'averaged' out to 20 hours per week over 2 or more weeks. If an undergraduate student has more than one job, they are still restricted to a total of 20 hours per week. This includes paid and unpaid work. Outside of term-time, undergraduate students are permitted to work full-time.

Postgraduate Taught Students

Postgraduate Taught Students are only permitted to work 20 hours per week during the course of their studies with the exception of the Christmas and Easter vacations as defined in the University Calendar. Between the end of semester 2 and their programme end date, postgraduate taught students are expected to be working on their project; they are therefore considered to be full-time students during this period and so they can only work 20 hours per week. Students must remain in full-time attendance until their programme end as stated on their CAS statement, even if they have submitted their dissertation/final project.

Postgraduate Research Students

Postgraduate Research Students are only permitted to work 20 hours per week. They can only work full-time on University closure days, bank holidays and during periods of annual leave. Postgraduate research students are deemed to be studying 52 weeks of the year, except for the permitted 26 working days annual leave per academic year, which runs from the 1st August until the 31st July. When they are on annual leave and during University closure periods they are permitted to work full-time; if postgraduate research students need to work over 20 hours in a week during these periods they would need to take the whole week as annual leave or add annual leave to a closure period to make up a whole week. If the student enrols after the 1st August then annual leave will be calculated on a pro-rata basis during their first year of study.

I have finished my course but my visa does not expire for another four months. Can I now work full-time?

Yes. For immigration purposes you are treated as being 'on vacation' in the four months after your course has finished. Please see the section on working during your studies for details of the restrictions that apply to Tier 4 (General) visa holders.

I want to remain in the UK to work after I have completed my studies. How do I do this and what will my immigration status be?

Students who wish to remain in the UK to work after their studies have finished will usually require sponsorship under Tier 2 (General). You may meet the requirements of UKVI Tier 5 or UKVI Tier 1.

Do I need a job offer to make a Tier 2 (General) application?

Yes. In order to apply under Tier 2 you will need a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) from an employer who holds a Tier 2 sponsor licence from the UKVI. You can find out more about Tier 2 (General), and the other requirements you will have to meet at UKVI Tier 2.

Can I switch from Tier 4 (General) into Tier 2 (General) from within the UK?

Yes, provided you have been awarded a UK degree (or completed at least 12 months of your PhD), still have time left on your Tier 4 (General) visa, and meet the other requirements of this category as found on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.

I have a job offer but my employers do not hold a Tier 2 licence. Can I still work for them?

You can only work for them on a temporary basis in the four months after your studies whilst you still hold a Tier 4 visa.

I have (or I want to switch into) dependant status. Can I (or will I be able to) work without restrictions?

If you already have dependant status then there are fewer restrictions on employment and you can work full-time without requiring additional permission, so long as you continue to meet the requirements of this category. Dependants cannot work as a professional sportsperson, as a doctor, or as a dentist in training. If you are concerned about whether your employment will breach the restrictions of your visa then please visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website for further information regarding dependants.

If you are not currently in the UK on a dependant visa, you may need to leave the UK and apply for this status. Please see a visa advisor as some switches in the UK are permitted.

Useful External links 


Please note: The University cannot accept responsibility for the content of external websites.

UKCISA Working During Your Studies

Useful Internal Links

Frequently Asked QuestionsAttendance and Absence from your Studies
Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

If you are uncertain about anything or you have a query, then our comprehensive frequently asked questions (FAQs) page may have the answer.    

Visa Drop-in and Appointments

Visa Drop-in and Appointments

  You can talk to one of our visa advisors by either coming along to one of our visa drop-in sessions, or you can book an appointment for an in depth discussion.    

Enquiry Form

Enquiry Form

You can contact us through our online enquiry form. We strongly encourage people to contact us through the online enquiry form rather than to directly email us.

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