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Can you work in the UK on a student visa?

If you live outside the UK and plan to study in the UK, you need to apply for a Student Visa. However, like many other visas there are restrictions on what you can and not do during your time as a visa holder in the UK.

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    Can I Work in the UK with a Student Visa?

    Whether you are permitted to work on a Student Visa depends on the nature of your course as well as the type of work you wish to undertake will staying in the UK.

    Crucially, if you are in the UK on a part-time Student Visa then you do not have the right to undertake any work – even if this employment is not paid.

    However, if you are studying on a course that is classed as full-time and leading to a degree that you are allowed to work – albeit it with some restrictions.

    If you are unclear about whether your visa allows you to work then you should seek the further guidance from an immigration specialist to ensure you do not unknowingly break conditions covering your stay in the UK.

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    What Work is Permitted for Full-time Student Visa Holders?

    Students on full time degree-level courses with a valid Student Visa should ensure that they meet the following requirements and restrictions when taking up paid or unpaid work:

    • Must not work more than 20 hours per week during term time. A week is defined by UK Immigration Services as seven days starting on Monday and ending on Sunday.
    • More than 20 hours can be worked outside of term times and in official vacation periods eg during a summer vacation period
    • If a course requires a full-time work placement then a visa holder is able to do this as long as the work placement is an assessed and integral part of the course. Any such work placement must not be more than 50 per cent of the total course length – although some vocational degree courses may be considered exempt from this restriction.
    • If the position is a student union sabbatical officer – although this can position can not be held for more than two years in total.
    • The job undertaken must be temporary in nature and must not be a form of permanent employment.

    There are also some roles that are not allowed under the visa restrictions such as being a professional sportsperson, sports coach or entertainer.

    Engaging in Business Activity as a Student Visa holder

    In addition to the restrictions on what and when Student Visa holders can work, there are also limits to how much an international student is able to engage in business activity during their stay in the UK.

    Home Office restrictions mean Student Visa holders are not able to start or run a business and they must not be carry out self employment working on a student visa.

    There is guidance provided on what “engaging in business” means so that Student Visa holders are aware of what they can do while studying in the UK.

    Activities that are not permitted on a Student Visa include:

    • Setting up a business as a sole trader or under a partnership arrangement and then trading or establishing trade
    • Working for a company as a director or other statutory role
    • Owning shares of more than 10 per cent of a company – even if those shares are held in a trust
    • Freelance work, even for an overseas company, is not permitted as it is a form of self-employment
    • It is also important to realise that working for an overseas company while in the UK still counts towards the 20 hour limit term-time limit.

    Volunteering with a Student Visa

    It is possible to volunteer while a Student Visa holder but it is important to know the difference between voluntary work and volunteering. Any voluntary work is regarded by the Home Office as unpaid work and therefore is limited by the 20 hours per week restriction.

    The following may help establish whether a role is a voluntary worker or not:

    • Work is seen as voluntary rather than volunteering if there are contractual obligations to carry out work – ie there is a timetable or rota or there is remuneration in kind.
    • Volunteering students will not have a contract and are not regarded as a substitute for an employee. They will also not receive any payment in kind although they may be able to claim reasonable expenses.

    If you are unclear about whether the role you plan to undertake is voluntary work or volunteering then you should seek advice from an immigration specialist before taking up any unpaid employment.

    Working After a Course End Date

    When a course finishes, then Student Visa holders will be regarding as being during a vacation period so are able to work for up to four months or until the Student Visa expires – which ever date is shorter.

    It is possible to switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa up to three months before a course ends if the visa holder wishes to remain in the UK after graduation.

    Another alternative is the High Potential Individual visa which is available to those who have gained a qualification from an approved university within the past five years and wish to work in the UK for up to three years depending on the level of qualification.

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      How can London Immigration Lawyers help?

      Becoming an international student is a life-changing event that comes with many benefits, however, the application process isn’t easy and it can be incredibly difficult to navigate it alone.

      Our immigration lawyers are experienced when it comes to assisting with Student Visa or Student Visa Visitor applications and they know exactly what it takes for an application to be successful and can give you the best chance of success.

      One of the most difficult aspects of the application process is meeting the strict requirements. Our lawyers will help you to do this and assist you with gathering a substantial portfolio of documents to support your application.

      To find out more about how our lawyers can assist you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today by calling 020 4502 8582.

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