Before you start to look for any employment in the UK, it's highly important to understand if your visa conditions allow you to work.

Working part time during your studies or in vacation periods can be a great way to get to know other people and boost your skills as well as earning extra money.  However, before you take any employment in the UK, you should always check if you have permission to work in the UK.

The following information is relevant for University of Greenwich students who hold a Tier 4 (General) visa.  If you are in the UK with a different type of visa (not Tier 4), check carefully which work conditions apply to you. We strongly recommend that you contact the International Student Advice Service to discuss your situation if you are not sure about your right to work in the UK.

Does your visa allow you to work in the UK?

You can check if you are permitted to work in the UK by firstly looking at what is written on your Tier 4 visa. If you are studying at degree level, you should find that the visa states that you are permitted to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time.

If you are studying below degree level (for example if you are studying a foundation programme), you should find that you are restricted to working a maximum of 10 hours per week during term time.

If your visa states any of the following phrases this means that you are not permitted to work in the UK:

  • No work
  • Work prohibited

If your visa does permit you to work in the UK, you must not work more than the number of hours per week you are allowed, as this would be a breach of your immigration conditions and a criminal offence.

If you have doubts about your right to work in the UK, the permitted hours, or if visa says something unusual or something that you don't understand, contact the International Student Advice Service to discuss.  It is very important that you check your permission to work and the permitted hours before you do any work in the UK. If you breach the working conditions of your visa, even by accident, both you and your employer could be subject to a substantial fine and prosecution.

Definition of a week

UKVI define a week as a period of 7 days starting with a Monday. During this period, you must not work more than the maximum hours per week allowed by your visa.  This weekly limit includes paid work and unpaid work.

Definition of term time

Term time means any period of time when you are expected to do any academic work. For example;

  • Attending classes and lectures
  • Writing essays, dissertations or a thesis
  • Preparing for and taking exams
  • Doing coursework

Undergraduate students

Vacation

Work you are permitted to do
(Subject to visa conditions)

Christmas vacation

You can work full time

Summer vacation

You can work full time, provided you are not undertaking any re-sits over this period.
NB: If you started your degree programme in January, please check your summer vacation dates as these may vary slightly from students who commence study in September

Postgraduate taught students (Masters)

Vacation

Work you are permitted to do
(Subject to visa conditions)

Christmas vacation

You can work full time

Summer vacation

Only 20 hours per week maximum in permitted. This is because you are supposed to be working on your dissertation during this time

Students on the following programmes are exempt from this limit and can work full-time during the summer vacation:

  • MA Landscape Architecture (P13477)
  • MA Social Work (P12436)

If you are studying on the MArch Architecture Part 2 (P13241) programme, you will usually not be expected to work on your project / dissertation over the first summer vacation period. This means that you will be able to work more than 20 hours per week during the vacation. However, in the second summer vacation period you will usually be expected to work on your project / dissertation. This means that you will be restricted to a maximum of 20 hours employment per week at this time.

Postgraduate research students

Vacation

Work you are permitted to do
(Subject to visa conditions)

Christmas vacation

Only 20 hours per week maximum is permitted

Summer vacation

Only 20 hours per week maximum is permitted

Writing up and corrections period

Only 20 hours per week maximum is permitted

Short period of leave approved by Supervisor
(must be documented and in accordance with your contract)

Full time work permitted 

Term dates

Refer to the university term dates for dates of vacation and academic terms.

Work that is not permitted

There are some restrictions on the type of work you can do with a Tier 4 visa. You are not allowed to engage in any of the following types of employment: 

  • Self-employment and business activity (unless you have made an application under the 'Start-Up' visa route) 
  • Professional Sportsperson or a Professional Sports Coach (unless this is through an approved placement as part of your degree programme)
  • Entertainer (musician/comedian/theatre performances etc)
  • Doctor or Dentist in training

You are also not allowed to fill a permanent, full-time vacancy so any work you do must be part-time and/or on a contract or fixed-term basis.

If you are unsure, please contact the International Student Advice Service to before undertaking any work.

Voluntary / unpaid work and volunteering

Unpaid work (also sometimes known as voluntary work) counts in exactly the same way as paid work. Therefore, any unpaid / voluntary work counts towards your weekly maximum hours. However, volunteering does not count in this way.

It is important to understand the difference been volunteering and unpaid / voluntary work. In both scenarios you will not be paid for your time, but reasonable expenses can be reimbursed.

  • Volunteers do not generally have a contract and will usually be helping a charity or public sector organisation

The Tier 4 Policy Guidance explains how the Home Office will differentiate between unpaid / voluntary work and volunteering. You can also contact the International Student Advice Service to discuss.

Working after completing your studies

Students with a Tier 4 visa who have completed their studies may work in the UK, but this is subject to certain conditions. You must be sure you have checked this before working more than your weekly maximum.

If you work more than 10/20 hours per week before the end of your programme, you risk serious consequences. Your CAS information confirms the official end date of your programme.

If you receive results confirming that you need to re-take any of your courses, you must immediately revert back to part time work, below your weekly maximum limit.

The information on this page is correct at the time of writing. Whilst we try to make sure the information we provide is accurate, immigration policy changes frequently. You should therefore always refer to the official gov.uk website to ensure that you have up-to-date information: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration