How Many Hours Can You Work on a Student Visa?

Coming to study in the UK is an exciting prospect as the UK boasts some of the best universities in the world, with 31 of the top 50 best-ranked universities. But getting a Student Visa can be hard enough, especially with the steep financial requirements, so for some people, it’s best to work while studying in the UK.

However, there are limitations to how long you can work while on a student visa in the UK and what jobs you can do while on the visa. Let’s take a look at what the rules are in more detail, so you know what to expect when looking to work and study in the UK.

Getting a Student Visa

Getting a Student Visa

Student Visas are for courses that are more than 6 months long. If your course in the UK is less than 6 months long, you can apply for a Short-Term Student Visa.

Getting a Student Visa for the UK can be easy if you meet all of the eligibility requirements and have all your paperwork together when you start your application.

To be eligible for a Student Visa, you need to:

  • Be 16 years old or over
  • Have an offer of a place on a course from a licensed student sponsor
  • Be able to read, write and speak English.
  • Have enough money to pay for your course and support yourself throughout your studies
  • Have written consent from your parents if aged 16 or 17

If you meet these requirements, you can begin your application for a Student Visa within 6 months before the start date for your course, and you’ll receive a response within 3 weeks of submitting your application. You will need to provide evidence that you meet each of these requirements for your application to be approved.

When proving you have sufficient finances, you can submit bank statements or letters from loan companies or sponsors that show your course fees will be paid and you have enough funds to cover your living costs.

The sum you need to cover your living costs is estimated to be:

  • £1,334 per month for courses in London
  • £1,023 per month for courses outside London

This money will need to be in your bank account for at least 28 consecutive days to show it is yours and you will still have access to it once in the UK.

If your visa application is rejected, you’ll receive a letter explaining why the Home Office have made their decision and whether you can appeal it.

New Rules for Student Visas

The Home Secretary James Cleverley announced plans to curb immigration after net migration in 2022 reached a record 745,000. One of the changes that will be introduced in 2024 is whether Students can bring their family members to the UK with them. From 1 January 2024, only students studying a research-based postgraduate degree (RQF level 8) can bring family to the UK to live with them.

Those family members can only be partners, married or unmarried, and children, not extended family.

Student Visa Holders’ Rights

Student Visa Holders’ Rights

International students who come to study in the UK will be issued their visas and informed of their exact rights while in the UK. If you submitted your passport with your application, it will be sent back to you with a sticker detailing the type of visa you have, the start and end dates of your visa and any specific rights you have in the UK. For example, for Student Visas, it will say that you do not have permission to claim public funds.

Most Student Visas will be issued to cover the length of the course, so students over 18 studying at degree level will usually have a visa issued for up to 5 years, while those under 18 will have a visa for 2 years. You can extend your visa if you are continuing to study in the UK. To apply for or extend a Student Visa, you will have to pay the application fee of £490.

When you submit your application you will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This fee allows you to use the national health service like a British National, e.g. you can access A&E and GP services, but you will have to pay for any necessary prescriptions and pay the subsidised fee for NHS dentists. Even if you have private insurance or do not use the NHS while in the UK, you must pay the IHS and will not receive a refund.

Working on a Student Visa in the UK

Working on a Student Visa in the UK

Students in the UK can work while they study, however, there are restrictions in place so that students concentrate primarily on their studies and finishing their courses. When you receive your Student Visa, you will be given the details of how much you can work.

Generally, the following restrictions apply:

  • Students studying full-time below degree level can work up to 10 hours per week during term-time
  • Students studying full-time at degree level and above can work up to 20 hours per week during term time
  • Students studying full-time may work full-time outside of term time and after the course has ended until their visa expires.
  • Students can undertake work placements if they are integral to the course and assessed
  • Students may work as a sabbatical officer at a Students’ Union for up to 2 years
  • Students may not be self-employed

Therefore, for most of the university year, students can work up to 20 hours per week and full-time during university holidays. Full-time is up to 48 hours per week for over 18s. If your earnings are significant, the Home Office may question how many hours you’re working to make sure you’re not working over the maximum 20 hours per week.

Even as an international student, while you work in the UK you may have to pay Income Tax and National Insurance which will be directly deducted from your payslip. If your home country has a double taxation agreement with the UK, you won’t have to pay tax in the UK while you work and study. However, if your country does not have this, you will have to:

  • pay Income Tax if you earn more than £1,042 per month
  • pay National Insurance if you earn more than £190 per week

You may be able to reclaim some of the tax you have paid when you leave the UK by filling out a P85 form and sending it to your tax office.

What if You’re Under 18?

Students under 18 can still work in the UK while they study, however, they can only work up to 10 hours a week during term-time. Outside of term-time, during school holidays, under 18s can work up to 40 hours a week, and no more than 8 hours a day.

Jobs You Can’t Do as an International Student

While it may seem appealing to start a small business such as selling handmade jewellery online or freelancing as a writer while you’re studying, these are among the jobs international students cannot do while they are in the UK on Student Visas.

International students must be employed and cannot be self-employed or freelancers. They also cannot work as:

  • Business owners
  • Professional sportspeople, including sports coaches
  • Entertainers, including actors, musicians, dancers and performers. There is an exception for university students of dance, drama and music on work placements.
  • Doctors or dentists in training

International students must also have a fixed-term contract, so they cannot work in permanent full-time positions with no end date to the contract.

If you’re unsure of whether your proposed job is classified as self-employment or employment, you can contact HMRC, the UK’s tax authority, for more information.

Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions

At Synergy Immigration Solutions, we know that applying for visas can be a painstaking process; getting your offer, collecting your documents, ensuring you have sufficient funds for all costs… There’s a lot to think about.

But we’re here to help.

Browse our other resources on Student Visas, or contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your application for a UK visa.

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