Permission to work in the UK
From 1st January 2021, all students who are not British or Irish citizens will need a Student Visa to study in the UK (including all EU countries). You may be able to work - how much depends on what you’re studying and whether you’re working in or out of term-time. If your application is successful, you’ll be told what you can and cannot do on a Student visa.
This information will be on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which is a standard credit card size and shows your photograph, full name, date of birth and information about how long your permission of leave is valid from.
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
The University has to comply with certain responsibilities under the UK Visa and Immigration Student Visa 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.
*Defined as all students who are not British or Irish citizens.
The Graduate visa
A Graduate visa gives you permission to stay in the UK. The visa lasts for two years for bachelor's and master's degrees and three years for PhD or other doctoral qualifications.
In order to qualify for the Graduate route visa you must:
- Have a valid Student route visa and be in the UK
- Successfully complete the degree that was stated on your CAS. Successful completion means you do not have a lower award (for example PG Diploma instead of a full Master’s degree) you do not have outstanding supplementary assessments.
Your visa will start from the day your application is approved.
You must be in the UK when you apply online.
There’s a cost of £700 for the visa plus a £624 per year health surcharge.
Skilled Worker visa
(Formerly the Tier 2 Employer-sponsored visa)
Information from the GOV UK website:
To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you must:
- work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office.
- have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK.
- do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations.
- be paid a minimum salary - how much depends on the type of work you do.
The specific eligibility depends on your job.
Your visa can last for up to five years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer.
- See which employers are on the register of licensed sponsors from GOV.UK.
- Student Circus has a searchable database of vacancies from employers willing to sponsor the Skilled Worker UK visa.
If you meet an employer who is unfamiliar with the regulations please refer them to the GOV.UK guidance for employers and educators.
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.
Is available on the International Student Support SharePoint pages
Find all the official Home Office information at GOV.UK.