Before you start to look for any employment in the UK, you need to check that 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 Student Visa.  If you are in the UK with a different type of visa (not a Student Visa), check carefully which work conditions apply to you. Please 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 Student 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

The following tables will help you identify when you can and cannot work, according to your level of study (and subject to your visa conditions).

Undergraduate students

Vacation

Work you are permitted to do

Christmas and Easter 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 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

Christmas  and Easter vacation

You can work full time

Summer vacation

Only 20 hours per week maximum in permitted because you will be required to work on your dissertation during this time.

Students on the following programmes can work full-time during the summer vacation:

  • MA Landscape Architecture (P13477)
  • MA Social Work (P12436)
  • MBA International Business (24 Month Programme) (P12166) Year 1 of the April Entry Cohort ONLY (Summer Vacation dates - 2 August 2021 until 26 September 2021)
  • MA International Business  (P1077) Year 1 of the April Entry Cohort ONLY (Summer Vacation dates - 2 August 2021 until 26 September 2021)

Please note that students in their second year of the April Cohort of the MA/MBA IB programmes will not have a summer vacation period, as there is a requirement for you to be writing your dissertation or starting your placement.

If you are studying on the MArch Architecture Part 2 (P13241) programme, you will usually be able to work full-time during the first summer vacation (unless you have resits or deferred assessment). However, in the second summer vacation period you will usually be expected to work on your project / dissertation, so are restricted to a maximum of 20 hours employment per week.

Postgraduate research students (MPhil/PhD)

Vacation

Work you are permitted to do

Christmas and Easter 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.

Letters for Employers

The university does not provide letters for employers to confirm that you can work full time during vacation periods. Your visa should contain wording regarding working outside term time, and your employer can check directly with UKVI if they are unsure of the rules around working conditions.

Working full time hours as part of a work placement

The immigration rules allow Student Visa holders to work full time hours, where this is for an authorised work placement which is an assessed part of their degree programme. This is only applicable to degree programmes which have a requirement to undertake an authorised work placement.  The Employers Right to Work Guidance confirms that work undertaken on the official placement does not count towards the period of term time employment permitted.

If the employer providing your official work placement wants to know the details of your degree programme and see confirmation that it includes an official work placement, you should speak to the Placements Office in your Faculty for their advice.

Work that is not permitted

There are some restrictions on the type of work you can do with a Student 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 (if your Student Visa was granted before 1st December 2020)

You are also not allowed to fill a permanent vacancy so any work you do must be on a temporary 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 Student Visa 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 Student 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.

Your visa itself should contain wording which confirms that you can work full time hours outside of term time. If it does contain this usual wording, once your official end of studies date in your CAS document has passed, providing you have completed all studies, you will be able to work full time hours.  This period is outside term time. We advise, 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.

Don't forget, whilst you are under the conditions of your Student Visa, you are also not allowed to fill a permanent vacancy so any work you do must be on a temporary / fixed-term basis. An exception to this may apply if you have made an application for a Skilled Worker Visa.

The university does not provide letters for employers to confirm that you can work full time hours at the end of your studies.  However, your CAS shows your official programme end date, your visa should contain wording regarding working outside term time, and your employer can check directly with UKVI if they are unsure of the rules around working conditions.

If after reading the guidance above, you need further clarification, you can contact the International Student Advice Service. However you should only do this once you have carefully read through all the information above. If your query is answered in the above information, you may be re-directed back to the content above.