Can I study and work in the UK?

Photograph of people working

A Tier 4 visa usually permits you to work, but your weekly hours and the types of jobs you can hold will be restricted.

Typically, you are permitted to work up to 20 hours a week. However, you should double-check this. The exact number of hours you’re allowed depends on a number of factors, including:

  • When you applied for permission to stay in the UK
  • The type of course you are studying, and
  • What type of sponsor you are studying with.

Your visa, which you can find in your passport, will outline how many hours you can work. You can also find this information on your Biometric Residency Permit (BRP). For further information, visit the Home Office website.

The Home Office’s visa guidance document states that, “The main purpose of the Tier 4 visa route is for you to come to the UK to study. Where you are permitted to work, the intention is that this should be to supplement your income whilst studying or as part of a work placement provided it is an integral and assessed part of your course.”

Not all jobs are open to students on Tier 4 visas. You also cannot be employed as a:

  • Freelancer for a company abroad
  • Doctor-in-training
  • Professional sportsperson, or
  • Entertainer.

Students on a Tier 4 visa are also not allowed to be self-employed.

Are Tier 4 students ever allowed to work full-time?

You can do a full-time work placement if it is a compulsory part of your course.

In between terms, Tier 4 students can work full time. However, there is enough red tape to make international students the least favourable option for an employer.

The work restrictions placed on international students mean you may find it difficult to find a job. Many employers are reluctant to hire people who are unable to work more than a few days a week. Furthermore, you will likely find it difficult to support yourself on a part-time income. This is why it is imperative that you arrive in the UK with enough funds to support yourself during your studies.

Tier 4 work restrictions can be frustrating and you may be tempted to break them – for example, by working more hours than you are supposed to, or by taking on jobs from which you are barred. Do not do this. These restrictions are part of your visa conditions, and if you break those conditions, you may lose the right to remain in the UK.

You can read more about the Tier 4 visa here.