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Working in the UK

Working in the UK

Working in the UK

Working in the UK

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Most Student/Tier 4 visa holders are allowed to supplement their funds or gain work experience by working part-time while they study, as long as you ensure you meet the restrictions and conditions outlined below. Be sure to check your visa to make sure that the work limit during term time indicated below is what you have actually been granted. 

Note that if the University becomes aware that you have worked over your hours or breached the work conditions of your visa in another way (such as self-employment or starting your own business, see below), as a Student visa sponsor we are required to report the immigration breach to UK Visas and Immigration.

Visitor / Short Term Study visas

Students on a Visitor or a Short-term study visa cannot do any kind of work, work placement or work experience during their studies in the UK. For details of permitted activities under the Visitor visa route, please see the Immigration Rules.

Student visa work restrictions - hours

Students at different study levels will be allowed to work different hours depending on the University term dates, or the stage you are at in your studies. The following limits apply to both voluntary and paid work:

You are limited to 20 hours per week during standard University term dates.

You can work full-time during vacation periods (Christmas, Easter and summer).

You can work full-time after your last term at the University ends until the date your visa expires. 

You are limited to 20 hours per week during standard University term dates.

You can work full-time during vacation periods (Christmas & Easter).

You are limited to 20 hours per week during your dissertation/project module (if you are taking this module).

You can work full-time after the end date listed on your CAS Statement until the date your visa expires. 


Below are the work conditions related to your Student visa although you should also be aware of the University's Code of Good Practice for research students.

You are limited to 20 hours per week throughout your studies until you submit your thesis.

You can work full-time while you await your viva (between the date you submitted your thesis and the date of your viva).

You are limited to 20 hours per week while writing up corrections (between your viva and submitting corrected thesis).

You can work full-time after submitting your corrected thesis until the date your visa expires. 


Work is prohibited.

You are limited to either 10 or 20 hours per week during INTO term dates, depending on your course: 

  • Foundation, Fast-Track Foundation, International Year One, Academic English and Study Abroad students: you can work up to 10 hours per week during termtime.
  • Pre-Masters (Graduate Diploma) and Integrated Engineering (BEng with Foundation or IYO) students: you can work up to 20 hours per week during termtime.
  • Pre-sessional students: you can work up to 20 hours per week if you have a combined CAS, and up to 10 hours per week if your CAS is for the PSE course only.

You can work full-time outside of INTO term dates.

You can work full-time after your INTO course ends, until the date your visa expires.

Term dates
INTO term dates can be found in your programme handbook. Your work limit applies until your course end date, even if classes finish before this.

Right to Work letters
You can request a right to work letter – a letter from INTO confirming your term dates and permitted work hours – via ELE (INTO UoE Homepage > forms).

You should tell INTO’s Visa Officer as soon as possible if you see a mistake on your visa: You must stick to the work limits above during termtime, even if the work limit printed on your visa is different.

If you have any questions about work hours, please email

Right to Work letters

When you start a new job, your employer will ask you for a letter from the University confirming your term dates. You can print a Right to Work letter through the self service option in your student record in iExeter. Wording on the Right to Work letter cannot be edited to an employer's request.

Right to Work share code

Your employer will ask for a share code to prove your right to work. Most students will be able to generate a share code using their passport or BRP card by following the instructions on the webpage. Once you have your code, you will need to give this and your date of birth to your employer. They will be able to use this to check the work conditions on your visa, e.g. number of hours per week, any restrictions on type of work. The share code is valid for 30 days.

In some cases, students will be unable to generate a share code for example if their BRP card is no longer valid or they have an outstanding visa application. In these cases, your employer can use the employer checking service here.

Student visa work restrictions - types of work

All students should be aware of the following Student visa work prohibitions:

  • You cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity
  • You cannot fill a full-time permanent vacancy
  • You must not be employed as an entertainer or professional sports person (including coach)

Work placements

If you are studying a programme which contains a work placement then you can do this full-time with your Student visa. The University is still required to monitor your attendance on this part of your programme.


Self-employment is not permitted on a Student visa. Further information on what constitutes self-employment can be found on the website. Engaging in business activity is defined by UKVI as ‘working for a business where you have a financial or significant beneficial interest in a capacity other than as an employee’. An example of this would be setting up a business as a sole trader, but please check page 93 of the Student Policy Guidance for further information.

UKCISA has also written a detailed blog about this, which explains that trading online to make a profit, income from owning property, appearing on TV talent shows and even paid babysitting is viewed as self-employment, and is therefore not permitted. If you are unsure, please contact us before starting any employment.

Volunteering and voluntary work

The restrictions on working hours explained above do not apply to Volunteering but they do apply to Voluntary work. If you want to volunteer to gain experience you need to be clear on whether you are Volunteering or doing Voluntary work. You should always check with the organisation which offers you a volunteering opportunity whether it can be regarded as unpaid employment.

The difference between unpaid employment (voluntary work) and volunteering is explained on page 102 of the Student Policy Guidance. But as an overview:

  • Voluntary work is where the role involves specific tasks at specific times and the voluntary worker has contractual obligations. Voluntary work is unpaid employment and will count towards your maximum number of hours of work a week.
  • Volunteers do not have a contract and are not paid, though reasonable travel and living costs can be reimbursed. Volunteers usually help a charity, voluntary organisation or public sector organisation. Volunteering does not count towards your working hour allowance.

Although legally you can work up to 20 hours, the University strongly advises that undergraduate and taught postgraduate students work no more than 15 hours per week during term time, as extra work may adversely affect your studies. Postgraduate research students should be aware of the advisory limits on the number of hours of work they undertake, outlined in the University’s Employment of postgraduate students: Code of Good Practice.