Working in the UK
Please see the information below regarding your ability to work in the UK both during and after your studies.
Working in the UK during and after your studies
Am I allowed to work?
For immigration purposes, international students must show that they can pay their fees and living expenses without working and without claiming public funds (benefits).
If you are a Student visa holder (previously Tier 4) and you are studying at or above degree level, you are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during holidays. If you have a short-term study visa you are not allowed to work. Please note, the Home Office defines 'week' as a period of seven days starting on a Monday and ending on a Sunday.
Postgraduate students should also be aware that they may not be allowed to work unlimited hours during normal University holidays as their courses may not necessarily follow the usual University term dates.
If you are uncertain whether you are allowed to work, or would just like to check the rules, you can email us using the form to the right or below.
How do I find a part-time job?
London Metropolitan University has a Careers and Employment Service which can help you find a part-time job and enhance your employability. They can also assist you with any issues once you find a job. For more information visit London Met Careers Service.
Do I have to pay income tax?
It depends on how much money you earn. If you earn over the annual Personal Income Tax Allowance (currently £12500) you will need to pay tax on your earnings but students working part-time are unlikely to earn enough to have to pay tax. You can also claim tax back if you have paid it and haven’t earned it over your personal allowance. Full details can be found here on the Government HMRC website and on the Gov.UK website.
Further information on working during your studies can be found on the UKCISA website.
Working in the UK during your studies
Most international students would like to do some part-time work during term time not only to earn some extra money but also to build up some important skills and work experience for your CV.
As a Student visa holder studying a course that is at degree level or higher, you will be permitted to work during your studies as follows:
- up to 20 hours per week during term time (remember that the summer is considered term time if you are working on your dissertation).
- full time during official vacation periods when you are not studying on your course
- you can take a work placement as an assessed part of your course
- you can take up a sabbatical officer position at the Student Union for up to two years
Student visa holders studying a course below degree level are permitted to work as follows:
- up to 10 hours per week during term time
- full time during official vacation periods when you are not studying on your course
- you can take a work placement as an assessed part of your course
- you can take up a sabbatical officer position at the Students' Union for up to two years
What is considered to be term-time?
- Undergraduate students are allowed to work full-time during the winter vacation, spring vacation and the summer. There may be exceptions to this, such as if you started in January and not in September, you may be studying over the summer period. If you are not certain, please ensure to contact an adviser to confirm.
- Master's students are allowed to work full-time during the winter and spring vacations, but are only allowed to work 20 hours per week during the summer as this is because you are expected to be working on your dissertation during this time. There may be an exception to this, such as if you started in January and not September. If you are not certain, please ensure to contact an adviser to confirm.
- PhD students are expected to be working on their research throughout the year and therefore are considered to be in term-time all year round, except for the winter and spring vacations when you can work full-time. You may be entitled to some annual leave, which is also a time when you would be allowed to work full-time, however, this must be agreed in writing with your supervisor. If you are not certain, please ensure to contact an adviser to confirm.
For help with finding and applying for a job in the UK please contact the University Careers Service. They can support you not only with your long term career planning but also with applying for part-time work.
What work am I not allowed to do?
The immigration rules state that there are some kinds of work you must not do:
- self-employment and business activity
- work as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach*
- a permanent full-time job
- doctor or dentist in training, unless you are on the foundation programme.
*On 10 January 2019, the Home Office amended the definition of what constitutes a professional sportsperson, the full guidance of which you can find on pages 102 and 103 of the Student and Child Student Guidance. This applies to you if you are in possession of a student visa, regardless of when you applied for it. Please read through this information carefully.
Upon reading the rules, you will note that the restriction prevents you from providing services as a sportsperson or coach at any level of sport, paid or unpaid, unless you do it as an “amateur” in a charity game. "Amateur" is a defined term and means a person who engages in sport solely for personal enjoyment and who is not seeking to derive a living from it, which includes payments made in kind, such as travel costs, accommodation or meals.
Applying for a National Insurance number
All employees pay National Insurance contributions and if you do want to work then you must apply for a National Insurance number. The National Insurance Number (NINO) is a number unique to you to which will help your employer to pay your National Insurance contributions. No one else can use this number.
Call Job Centre Plus on 0800 141 2075 to make an application for your NINO. You can find further information on how to apply for your National Insurance number on the Gov.UK website.
You do not need a National Insurance number to start work but you will need to get one once you have started a job. Your employer will give you a temporary number while you wait for your permanent number.
How the Careers Service can help you
- identify and explore your career options, including further study as well as full time and part-time work
- clarify your goals and provide you with support in achieving them
- develop an awareness of your skills, qualities and motivations and how to articulate these in applications and interviews
- access resources and develop strategies to find part-time and full-time work, work experience and graduate opportunities
- update your knowledge of labour market intelligence (LMI) including trends in the recruitment and selection procedures of a range of recruiters.
Further information on working during your studies
You can find more information about the rules on working while you are studying on the Home Office website.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs also publishes this useful information on Working in the UK during your studies.
If your employer requires more information about your right to work you can suggest that they call the Home Office Employer's helpline on 0300 123 4699
Please note that all employers are now required to check your actual term dates and therefore you will need to provide evidence of your term and vacation dates.
Working in the UK after your studies
Although the previous Post Study Work visa route was closed in April 2012 there are several other possible options if you would like to apply to work in the UK after your studies including:
- Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) allows PhD students to extend their Student visa in order to work in the UK for 12 months after their studies. If you do want to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme you will need a new CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from the University. The CAS can be issued only if you are within 60 days of completing your PhD. The Doctorate Extension Scheme will allow you full unrestricted work rights, except for some limited professions such as doctors or dentists in training or sportspersons (including coaches). To make an application for the DES please contact our International Advice Service on email@example.com.
- Skilled Worker Visa (formerly Tier 2) On 1 January 2021, the UK introduced a new Points-Based Immigration System, recent graduates can switch from Tier 4, Student visa or Graduate Route to this immigration category. In order to apply under the Skilled Worker route, you need to be hired in an eligible job and be sponsored by an approved employer. Every applicant must score at least 70 points to be eligible for the Skilled Worker Route; 50 points come from meeting the mandatory criteria the remaining 20 can be made up by trading points. UKVI has created a comprehensive guidance.
- Start Up visa- If you have a really great, innovative, viable and scalable business idea and possess entrepreneurial skills then you may be able to apply for this visa. Students can apply to be endorsed by any of the Universities on the list of Endorsing Bodies. London Met is an Endorsing Body for this scheme for London Met students only. This visa is different from the other Entrepreneurial visas in that you don't need to have investment funds and is a one-off visa for two years allowing you to develop your business.
In order to qualify, you need to have your business idea assessed and recommended for endorsement by the Accelerator, London Met's business incubator. All London Met students can use the Accelerator to help them with their business ideas. The Accelerator offers a range of help, support, advice and events for those interested in going into business for themselves. If you’re a student of London Met, the Accelerator gives you the opportunity to discuss your business ideas with a professionally qualified business adviser. They also offer funding and office space, as well as run regular workshops and motivating talks designed to equip you with the knowledge and inspiration to take your ideas to the next level. Through the annual Business Plan Competition, they encourage London Met students to submit their ideas for the chance to gain a £5,000 top prize and put contestants through training that will set them on the path to achieving their business dream. They also have an array of connections into the business world and, through networking at events, you can connect with the people who are able to elevate you into business success.
Come along to one of our Working in the UK After your studies Workshops
We carry out workshops once or twice a year. Keep an eye out for an email inviting you to the next event.
The workshops are delivered jointly by the international adviser and careers consultant and cover visa and immigration advice to help you understand how to make an application for the Skilled Worker visa (formerly Tier 2) and also provide information on other work-related immigration categories for which you may be eligible. The Careers consultant will provide information on the UK job market and advise you on job search techniques so that you can find and apply for the graduate job you will need in order to be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa.
Graduate Route (Post-Study Work visa)
What we know so far about the new Graduate Route:
The UK government has confirmed that the Graduate route will open for applications at 9am on 1 July 2021. We understand that students who start a course in 2020 should be able to apply for this visa provided they successfully complete their courses in or after the summer of 2021 when the scheme is introduced, please refer to the information about remote/distance learning during Covid-19 below.
The route will not be sponsored and no new CAS will be required to submit an application. All successful applicants will be granted a one-time non-extendable leave period of two years if graduating at an undergraduate or masters level and three years if graduating with a PhD. Successful applicants will be allowed to remain in the UK to work or look for work at any skill level during the 2 year period.
The current Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is expected to close and merge with the Graduate route once it is introduced hence the reason PhD graduates get 3 years instead of 2 under the route. The UK Government put together this fact sheet with information related to the ‘Graduate Route’.
Who can apply?
International students who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance who also hold valid leave on a Student visa will be eligible to apply.
Applicants must have completed the course which was stated on the CAS used to apply for their most recent Student visa. We do not yet know if there will be any flexibility around this (for example if a student who changed courses but didn't have to get a new visa in order to do so will be permitted to apply). We will provide further updates once they become available.
Applicants must have completed the entirety of their degree in the UK except for permitted study abroad programmes or when distance learning has been necessary due to Covid-19.
The route will not have a maintenance requirement and applicants will not need to demonstrate English language ability as they will already have proved English language ability by successfully completing a degree at a UK university. Applicants will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This route will not have recourse to public funds. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) have put together a piece of comprehensive information about the new Graduate Route on their website.
Can I apply with family members?
Graduates whose dependants are already in the UK with them will be allowed to continue sponsoring family members who make an application for further leave at the same time. No new joining dependants will be permitted to apply after the route is introduced
We will update our pages once we know more or if further guidance is provided by the government on the scheme.
Remote/Distance Learning, COVID-19 and the Graduate Route:
If you are currently studying for a UK qualification outside the UK through distance learning because of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Home Office has set out in its guidance called Coronavirus (COVID-19): Student sponsors, migrants and short-term students on pages 15-16 how you can maintain your eligibility to apply for the two year post-study work visa.
- You must have valid Student permission when you submit an application under the Graduate route and also meet all the requirements to apply which we do not have details of yet until further guidance is provided by the government.
- If your course finishes in summer 2021, you will need to enter the UK on or before 21 June 2021; this includes students who started a one-year Master's course in September 2020.
- If you start a one-year Master's course in January 2021, you must be in the UK before 27 September 2021 and complete the final semester of your course in the UK
- If your course is longer than one year and does not end in summer 2021, any period of time you have spent studying by distance learning outside the UK will not be "held against you" in an application under the Graduate route.
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