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:
- 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)
The Graduate Route launched at 9am on Thursday 1 July 2021. A Graduate visa gives you permission to stay in the UK for a maximum non-extendable period of two or three years (depending on your course) after successfully completing a course in the UK allowing international students to continue to contribute to society and the economy post-study. Students on the Graduate route will be able to work or look for work at any skill level after their studies.
London Metropolitan University is a Higher Education provider with a track record of compliance and is listed in the register of student sponsor.
- You must be in the UK to submit your application. If you have been away from the UK due to Covid-19 you should return to the UK before 27 September or the expiry date of your visa to submit the application whichever date is sooner.
- You must hold permission under the Tier 4 or Student visa route at the point of application. If your last permission of leave was for the Doctorate Extension Scheme you are not eligible to apply for the Graduate Route.
- You must have successfully completed a Bachelors, Masters, PGCE, PhD, or another eligible qualification at London Met. The qualification must be the same as the one listed in your CAS, if you changed course, you will be eligible to apply if the change was permitted under the immigration rules and there was no need for a fresh visa application. The University will report to UKVI the successful completion of your course. Following this, all eligible students will get confirmation that the report has been completed to proceed with the visa application. If you have any outstanding tuition fee, the university will not make the report until the debt has been settled. If the end date of your course has been extended but you can complete your course within the validity of your visa, the university will not extend your visa for the sole purpose of waiting for your results. You would lose out on applying under the Graduate Route if this is the case.
- You must have completed a minimum of a year of study in the UK if your course is longer than 12 months or the full duration of your course if your course is less than 12 months (Covid-19 concessions apply).
Conditions of the Graduate Route
- Graduates are permitted to work at any skill level other than a professional sportsperson
- Graduates are permitted to be self-employed or engage in a business activity
- Graduates cannot apply for benefits or public finds
- Supplementary study in permitted, but not study on a course permitted under the Student Route
- Graduates cannot extend this visa and will not be eligible for another 2 years following completion of a new eligible course.
Covid-19 concessions: Distance Learning
In response to the pandemic, distance learning has been permitted for the entirety of the 20/21 academic year. If you started your course remotely you should benefit from this immigration category provided you meet the eligibility criteria outlined and you arrive in the UK by the specified deadline.
If you started a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 via distance learning and have not entered the UK, you would be eligible to apply for the Graduate application if you make a successful Student visa application and enter the UK by 27 September.
Students who started a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have permission to study in the UK under the Student Visa, and who have already travelled to the UK will be able to make a Graduate visa application as long they are present in the UK before the end date of their student permission.
If your course is longer than 12 months you will not be prevented from applying under the Graduate Route if you completed your course via distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021.
Cost of applying under the Graduate Route:
- Application fee: £700
- Immigration and Health Surcharge: £624 per year (PhD students applying for the Graduate Route you will automatically be charged 3 years of health surcharge for a total of £1872).
Documents you will need to apply
- Valid passport or other travel document that shows your identity and nationality
- Your biometric residence permit (BRP), if you were given one when you applied for your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
- Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number from when you applied for your Student or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
- a letter from your scholarship or sponsorship provider approving your application, if they paid for your course fees or living costs in the last 12 months.
- proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’re applying with you.
The Graduate Route allows applicants to submit their application using a digital process, you will upload your documents, complete a live scan, and will receive a digital status. Visa nationals will receive a Biometric Residence Permit in addition to the digital status.
Graduates who cannot upload their passport or BRP using the UK Immigration ID check would be required to attend an appointment in a UK Visa application centre.
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. Only children born in the UK either during your Tier 4/Student visa, or whilst on the Graduate visa are permitted to apply if they were not existing dependants.
The International Advice team is planning to do a Webinar about the Graduate Route. Details will be available soon.
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