Working on a Student visa or Tier 4 visa whilst studying

The main purpose of the Student/Tier 4 visa is for you to come to the UK to study as a full-time campus based student. Where you are permitted to work this should only be to supplement your income whilst studying.  The UKVI expect work in most cases to be a part-time role or as part of a work placement which is an integral and assessed part of your course. Depending on your level of study different work restrictions will apply to you. These are conditions of your visa so it is important that you understand them and adhere to them. It is important to note that the working restrictions outlined below apply to all students on a Student/Tier 4 visa including EU nationals. EU nationals who are in the UK having secured Pre-Settled or Settled status retain their previous work rights and there are no restrictions.

Working restrictions

Students on Student/Tier 4 visas are limited to the number of hours they can spend working. If you are working for more than one employer you must ensure your hours do not add up to more than your visa allows in any given week which are:

  • no more than 10 hours if you are studying below degree level, e.g. studying on a pre-sessional English course
  • no more than 15 hours during term-time if your course is at degree level, e.g. Bachelors or Masters
  • usually no more than 8 hours if you are a PhD student and only with the permission of your Head of Department*
  • full time before your course starts and during your wrap-up
  • full time during vacations and which vary depending on your level of study
  • These restrictions apply to all students holding a Tier 4 or Student visa regardless of nationality.

    Voluntary work and volunteering

    There is a distinction between voluntary work and volunteering. The main difference is ‘Voluntary workers’ will usually have a contract which states hours of work and duties assigned. Students who are volunteering will not have a contract. You can undertake voluntary work and it will count towards your total working hours limit.


    The University of Leicester offers many volunteering opportunities. If you wish to participate but are still unsure please contact


    Why does my visa say I can work 20 hours in term-time but I am advised to work 15 hours by the University?

    The UKVI permits students on Student/Tier 4 visas to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time. The University considers that working more than 15 hours per week is detrimental to undergraduate or postgraduate students studying on taught courses and Senate Regulation 4.15 states that work is permitted, 'provided that the total number of hours worked does not exceed 15 hours per week during term time, and that programme requirements are met in full.' This means if you undertake work for the University through UNITEMPS you will be restricted to working 15 hours a week and this limit is reflected in your Certificate of Employability issued by the university.

    A PhD course is considered to be the equivalent of full time work and *Senate Regulations state PhD students should not 'usually' work more than 8 hours. Some students depending on their mode of funding (some grants) will not be permitted to work additional hours which is why permission must be granted by the department. The slightly different wording of the Senate Regulations does permit work of up to 20 hours but students are expected to prioritise their studies and carefully consider the impact work will have on them.

    All students undertaking part-time work should note it will not be accepted as as a mitigating circumstance to excuse absence  or poor academic performance.

    Work you cannot undertake whilst on a Student/Tier 4 visa

    • be employed as a doctor in training (except on a recognised foundation programme)

    • be employed as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach);

    • be employed as an entertainer;

    • be self-employed or engage in business activity; or

    • fill a full-time, permanent vacancy (except on a recognised foundation programme or as a students’ union sabbatical officer).

    It is important to note that some jobs in the 'gig economy' may be classed as 'self-employed' and therefore in breach of your visa and not allowed, e.g. couriers, translation services, running an online business, being a director of a company or registering with Companies House, etc. Occasional selling on Ebay is within the rules and permitted. If you are in doubt please contact for further advice.

    When you can work full time

    Most students on a Student visa or Tier 4 visa have immigration permission that starts up to one month before the course start date and extends for up to four months beyond the end of their studies. If you are allowed to work, you can work before your course starts and after it ends according to the dates on your Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS).

    You can also work full time during your vacations. If you want to work more than your usual restricted hours, your employer is required by law to check that your education provider agrees that you are on holiday. Your holiday entitlement is determined by your level of study.

    Undergraduate students

    Undergraduate Students on a Student/Tier 4 visa at the University of Leicester are restricted to working no more than 15 hours per week during the published University term dates and are permitted to work full time during published vacations. These are published on our website for your employer to check.

    Postgraduate students

    For most postgraduate masters' students the published University term-dates do not apply and you must not work more than 15 hours a week for the entire duration of your course. This applies whilst you are writing up your dissertation or working on your project. Additional work undertaken during a work placement must be within term-time regulations.

    PGT students studying Maths, Engineering or Informatics who began their course in January are entitled to the summer holiday in their first year of study and are permitted to work full time during this period. These courses are longer overall than those of other postgraduate students to allow for this holiday. It is only the summer vacation in the first year students are entitled to as in other academic years they will be working on projects or out on work placements.

    Postgraduate Research Students

    As Postgraduate Research Student you need the approval of your Head of Department to undertake paid employment which should not normally be in excess of 8 hours. Your hours remain restricted whist you are preparing for your viva and whilst you are completing your corrections until the Doctoral College Office confirms you have completed. The standard course term dates and holidays dates do not apply to you. You are entitled to university closure days and you can request a further 24 days holiday a year during which you can work full time. Your holidays must be approved by your department and cannot be agreed retrospectively. Evidence of your holidays must be provided before you undertake employment. You should not work more than 20 hours a week if you are not on holiday.

    What are fulltime working hours in the UK?

    Employees in the UK are protected by a usual working week of a maximum of 48 hours in accordance with the ‘working time directive’. Some jobs make it difficult to conform to these hours and it is possible to ‘opt out’ however you, and your employer, should always be mindful of the negative effect excessive working hours could have on your health before agreeing additional hours.


    Proving your working hours entitlement

    All sponsored students on Student/Tier 4 visas can obtain a Certificate of Employability which can be downloaded from My Student Record or requested from the Student Service desk in the Percy Gee building. The certificate will detail your holidays and include term dates for this academic year and the start date of the next. When  you complete your studies you can request an award letter from Student Services which will confirm completion of your studies.

    Changes to your studies which affect your permission to work

    Stop studying

    If you stop studying we will withdraw sponsorship and notify the Home Office. it is likely the Home Office will curtail (cancel) your leave. The UKVI will write to you and inform you of any new date that your permission (to be in the UK) will expire. Any permission to work that you have will expire on the new date that your permission will expire following curtailment. Curtailment can be with immediate effect or take effect 60 days from the date you were notified that your leave was curtailed.

    This applies whether:

    • we withdraw you from your programme of study OR

    • you withdraw yourself from your programme of study OR

    • you suspend your studies.

    Defer studies

    If you defer part of your studies to later in the year perhaps because of the impact of covid or for other personal or academic reasons the end date of your programme of study will change and so will your working entitlement. As you may be completing a project or exams during the published summer vacation period you are likely to be classed as remaining in 'term-time' and your working restrictions as above will remain in place.


    You should immediately inform your employer of any change in your circumstances, and if they are unsure whether you still have the right to work, they should contact the Employer Checking Service. You should obtain a new Certificate of Employability and provide this to any employer after checking it confirms the changes to your course. You can obtain a certificate either by downloading one from My Student Record or requesting one from

    If you are a PGT student before working with UNITEMPS your department will have to confirm that you have completed all academic requirements and have not deferred your studies. You will not be permitted to work more than 15 hours until this has been confirmed.


    Share this page: