Working during your studies

Find out if you have permission to work alongside your studies, and how to find a part-time job in Nottingham.

Most international students are allowed to do some work during their studies. It depends on the immigration permission you have.

Working part-time means you can earn extra money and learn about British working life. It can be a great addition to your CV too. You must make sure you understand and follow the restrictions that apply to you. You must also consider how this extra commitment will affect your studies. You should not depend on income from a part-time job to support you.

The UKCISA website has detailed guidance about working during your studies. This includes information about work entitlements for international students.

Working during your studies

If you have a Student visa, you're usually eligible to work a limited number of hours per week during term time. This will be 10 or 20 hours, depending on the level of your course. You're also allowed to work full-time during vacation periods. For confirmation of the conditions of your visa regarding work, you must check your:

  • biometric residence permit (BRP), and
  • visa decision letter.

You may think there's an error in your work conditions. If so, email our international student support service.

If you have conditions that prohibit you from working, it's illegal for you to work in the UK, either paid or unpaid. UK Visas and Immigration treat working in breach of your conditions very seriously. If you work too many hours, or do work you don't have permission for:

  • your future immigration applications may be refused, and
  • you may be removed from the UK.

You can work with no restrictions on your number of hours if:

  • you're an EU, EEA or Swiss national, and
  • you have have pre-settled or settled status under the EU settlement scheme.

Students who are studying in the UK as a visitor for a short period are not allowed to work.

The kinds of work you can do

You can do most kinds of work, but you must not:

  • be self-employed or engage in business activity
  • work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
  • work as an entertainer
  • work in a position that would fill a permanent full-time vacancy.

How many hours you can work each week

Most students with a Student visa will be able to work:

  • 10 or 20 hours per week during term time, and
  • unlimited hours during official vacation periods.

We define a week as a period of seven days beginning with a Monday.

Your visa or BRP should state how many hours you may work. If this is not clear, contact our international student support service. We'll be able to give you further advice.

Your Academic School will be able to tell you the official vacation dates for your course. You must never work more hours than you're permitted.

Employers have a legal obligation to check that you're allowed to work in the UK. You must be able to prove this by showing them:

  • your current passport, and
  • your current biometric residence permit (BRP).

If you have a digital immigration permission, you need to generate a share code. Your employer will use this to verify you have right to work. They can check this online.

You must also give your employer the term and vacation dates for your course. It must be clear to your employer, and to UKVI, when you may work more than 10 or 20 hours a week. Your Academic School office will be able to provide you with a right-to-work letter. This will confirm the term and vacation dates for you course.

Work placements and sandwich courses as an international student

If you're in the UK with a Student visa, you can do a work placement. It must be an integral and assessed part of your course, such as a sandwich course.

The placement must not be more than half the total length of your course. This applies if you are studying at undergraduate degree level or above.

Work placements can be paid or unpaid. You're allowed to work full-time during your work placement, even in term time. If you have permission to work in the UK, you can do a part-time job as well as your full-time work placement.

You many have already started your course but wish to change it to one that includes a work placement. If so, speak to your course administrator.

If you need to extend your Student visa due to changing to a sandwich course, contact international student support. We'll be able to offer further advice.

Volunteering and voluntary work

It's important to note the distinction between volunteering and voluntary work. You can do voluntary work only if you're permitted to work in the UK. If you have a Student visa, you can volunteer or do voluntary work.

If you do voluntary work, it must not exceed the number of hours you're permitted to work in term time.

The following factors will help you tell the difference between volunteering and voluntary work.

Volunteering:

  • There is no contract of employment.
  • The role does not take the place of an employee.
  • You must not receive payment in kind. You're allowed reimbursement for reasonable travel and expenses.
  • This would usually be to help a voluntary or public sector organisation or a charity.

Voluntary work:

  • There is often a contract with the employer. This means:
    • the employer must provide the work, and
    • the voluntary worker must attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks.
  • Voluntary workers usually receive payment in kind.

Getting a National Insurance number and starting work without one

You don't need a National Insurance number before you start working in the UK. You'll need to get one if you're looking for work, or if you have an offer of work.

To get a National Insurance number, you must apply online and prove your identity.

After you apply, it can take up to 16 weeks to get your National Insurance number. For future updates on this process, please check the Gov.uk website.

Paying income tax as an international student

International students are subject to UK tax laws. The personal tax allowance for the 2022-23 tax year for a single person is £12,570. You'll have to pay income tax on any amount you earn above this figure.

International students working in the UK are also liable to pay National Insurance. You'll contribute in the same way as UK citizens. You won't have to start paying until you earn above a certain amount. In 2022-23, that amount is £190 per week.

The tax year starts on 6 April and finishes on 5 April the following year. You may be entitled to a refund for overpaid income tax if:

  • you only work for a short period in a tax year, or
  • you're leaving the UK part-way through a tax year.

Find out more about claiming back overpaid tax.

If you have any more questions about tax, contact:

Finding a part-time job

For advice on finding part-time work, find out about employability on StudentHub. For dedicated support and information for international students, visit Employability Online.

Unitemps provides casual work for students wanting to work within NTU. Register with them to make sure you hear about all opportunities on campus.

Use JobShop to search and apply for external roles in the local area.

Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC) students

If you're a student at NTIC, your permission to work is different to that of NTU students. Contact the NTIC admissions department for more information on visas.

  • Last updated: 11/05/2022