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Permission to work in the UK

Most students from non-EEA countries are eligible to work whilst studying in the UK. To check your eligibility the first thing you need to do is to look at your passport and see what stamp the UK immigration authorities have given you. Most undergraduate students who are studying for over six months are allowed to work part-time during the term of up to 20 hours a week (up to 10 hours per week for foundation courses students) and full-time during the vacations. Those on postgraduate courses can usually work up to 20 hours per week throughout the year (there are no vacations on postgraduate courses).

If your current visa or passport stamp states “No work”, “Employment Prohibited” or that you must “not engage in employment” (unless it also contains the words “consent of the Secretary of State”) you CANNOT work under any condition. This would be a breach of your immigration conditions, which is a criminal offence.


Requirements of the STUDENT VISA (Tier 4)

The University has to comply with certain responsibilities under the UK Visa and Immigration Tier 4 Sponsors Licence.

One of these responsibilities is to collect evidence of specific interactions with the University, which shows that you are ‘actively engaged in your studies’. Failure to comply will result in a mandatory report being issued to UK Visas and Immigration which may affect your permission to work and consequently your leave to remain in the UK.

It is illegal to employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK and employers face severe penalties if they do so. Employers of international students will have their own procedures in order to check your continuing confirmation of your right to work. If the University issues a report to UK Visas and Immigration about you, you must inform your employer, otherwise you could be working illegally and the penalties for this could be severe.

RESTRICTION on working stamp

A restriction on working can be worded in two different ways:

"No recourse to public funds"

"Work (and any changes) must be authorised"


"Leave to enter/remain in the United Kingdom on condition that the holder maintains and accommodates himself and any dependants without recourse to public funds and does not enter or change employment paid or unpaid without the consent of the Secretary of State for Employment and does not engage in business or profession without the consent of the Secretary of State for the Home Department is hereby given for/until... (specified time)".

If your current visa or passport stamp states “work (and any changes) must be authorised” or “…does not enter or change employment paid or unpaid without the consent of the Secretary of State”, you do not need further permission to do the following:

  • Work in your spare time whilst studying, and full time during vacations
  • Undertake a work placement, such as a sandwich year in industry
  • Take an internship placement of up to three months

However you cannot:

  • Work more than 20 hours or 10 hours per week in term time, see details above
  • Engage in business services, self-employment or provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer
  • Pursue a career by filling a permanent, full-time vacancy

PROHIBITION on working stamp

A ‘prohibition’ on working can be worded in two different ways:

"No work or recourse to public funds"


"Leave to enter/remain in the United Kingdom on condition that the holder maintains and accommodates himself and any dependants without recourse to public funds, does not enter employment paid or unpaid and does not engage in any business or profession, is hereby given for/until... (specified time)."

If you have this stamp in your passport, you CANNOT work under any circumstances.

Proof of right to work

If you have a passport sticker or biometric residence permit (identity card) that does not prohibit work, you are allowed to take employment as described above without getting any further approval  or permission. Your employer can check with UK Visas and Immigration that you are allowed to work - there is an employers’ helpline on 0300 123 4699.

However, most employers are very familiar and aware of the legal implications of employing international students whilst studying. However, if they are still unsure, please ask them to get in touch with us.

Where can I get further information on working whilst studying?

Further information for international students about working during your studies can be found in the British Council Education UK website.

UKCISA have lots of useful information for international students about living and working in the UK.

After your studies

This section contains information about the main visa options for international students at the University of Bradford who want to work in the UK following graduation. 

The University offers support with visas, including daily drop-in sessions with a Visa Support adviser every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11.00-12.00, at MyBradford Student Services, Richmond Building.

For visa advice and to find out the latest regulations, check the GOV.UK on work visas and UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) websites.

Work visa options for international students

Some of the visa options for international students at the University of Bradford who want to work in the UK after study are:

Start-up visa

If you are interested in starting a business and want to extend your stay in the UK after graduation, you can apply for the Start-up Visa scheme. Full details of the scheme can be found on the GOV.UK website. 

Support from the University of Bradford

The Start-up Entrepreneur and Visa Programme provides support for University of Bradford graduates from a team of business and social enterprise start-up experts, as well as mentoring from successful entrepreneurs.

Tier 2 - Employer sponsored visa

You can apply for an employer sponsored work visa under Tier 2 if you have a job offer from an employer who must have a Tier 2 sponsor licence.

You have to apply for the visa with the 'Certificate of Sponsorship' and you need to pass the points-based assessment including a minimum salary for the post. Your job must have a particular skills level and at least £30,000 per year or the ‘appropriate rate’ for the job you’re offered. The Codes of Practice on the GOV UK website also sets out the salaries.

All the requirements for Tier 2 visa are explained in the Tier 2 policy guidance on the GOV UK website.

  • Student Circus has a searchable database of vacancies from companies who are Tier 2 sponsors.

Not all employers are familiar with the new Tier 2 visa regulations. If you meet an employer who is unfamiliar with the regulations please refer them to 'work visas' and 'sponsoring' pages on the GOV UK website.

Please note: You will have to find a graduate job offer with a sponsoring employer BEFORE your student visa expires (you also need to apply whilst in the UK). Although graduate employers hire all year round, some graduate programmes have a long recruitment cycle. You will need to begin your graduate job hunting early in your final year of study to maximise your chances of success with particular firms.

Tier 4 - Doctoral Extension Scheme for PhD

This is a 12 month visa extension scheme under Tier 4 for students completing a doctorate in the UK.  The scheme allows PhD students that currently have valid immigration permission, to stay for a further 12 months in the UK to find work with a Tier 2 employer, set up as an entrepreneur, or to gain practical work experience in their field.

For further details, please see the government's Tier 4 guidelines, page 24.

Tier 4 - Students' Union Sabbatical Officers

You can stay in the UK under Tier 4 if you have been elected to a full-time post as a Students’ Union Sabbatical Officer in the University of Bradford Union of Students (UBU).

You will have to meet the requirements for Tier 4 (General) Students, including the maintenance requirements.  However, the UK Border Agency does not expect you to study during this period, and  should give you permission to be in the UK for 12 months which you can apply to extend up to a two year maximum if you are re-elected. 

Tier 5 - Government Authorised Exchange visa

There are a number of other visa options under Tier 5 of the Points Based System for short-term and/or career related experience in the UK. However, these are only available through particular visa sponsors such as some professional bodies and organisations like BUNAC and AIESEC.

Professional Training Bodies

If you are required to undertake a period of professional training following your UK study to complete a professional qualification, you could contact the relevant professional body about any provisions in place. This is a type of Tier 5 visa.

More information

Find all the official Home Office information at GOV.UK.