The facts about working in the UK as a foreign student

Working in the United Kingdom under a student visa

Here’s a look at how you can afford to work in UK while you are there on a student visa. Won’t you appreciate it that the UK gives international students permission to work, thus enabling them to earn for their studies and gain work experience? Such experience can come in handy after they complete their study in UK and try to settle down in the country.

How can you work while you are studying?

If you an international student doing a full-time degree-level course in the UK, you are allowed to work in the UK. For this to be applicable to you, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You can work up to 20 hours per week while doing a university term. A week is a 7-day period from Monday to Sunday.
  • You may work full-time during vacations.
  • You can work full-time while doing a term at the university if that is an important and assessed part of the course. No such work placement must be longer than 50% of the total length of the course. An exception is where there is a statutory requirement by the UK for the course to contain a certain period of placement at work that goes beyond this limit.
  • You may work as a student sabbatical officer for up to a period of 2 years.
  • You will not be allowed to undertake any work if you are in the UK on a student visa for a part-time course. It doesn’t matter the work is paid or unpaid.
  • No UK Student visa holder can be employed on a permanent contract.
  • A student on a Student visa can’t be self-employed.
  • A Student visa holder can’t set up his/her own business.
  • A Student visa holder can’t work as a professional entertainer or sportsperson.

If you are holding another kind of UK visa, you must check with the International Student Advice team whether you can work during your studies. However, the UK Home Office considers the following to be engaging in business as described in their visa guidance.

  • You set up a business as a sole trader or as a partnership. The business itself is either about trading or establishing a trading presence.
  • You are employed by a company in which you hold 10% or more shares.
  • You work for a company where you also maintain a statutory role as in the case of a director.

In case you are working for a client outside the UK while you are physically in the UK, the 20-hour limit will be applicable to such employment. Moreover, in case you are doing freelance work for clients outside the UK, it will be considered self-employment and hence not allowed.

Working in the UK after completing your course

After you complete your course in the UK, you will be treated as on “vacation”. In this period, you can work for up to 4 months or till your Student visa expires, whichever happens first. Only if you change your visa status, will you be able to work in a permanent full-time job.

There is an option that you may get to apply for working as a skilled worker for up to 3 months prior to the expected completion date of the course. This will be the official end date given on the SAS.

In case you are completing your degree in the summer of 2021, you may be granted the eligibility to apply for a Graduate route of 2-year duration.

What’s the Graduate route?

International students with the following are eligible for the Graduate route:

  • City students who could be or are currently sponsored and are slated to complete their degree courses in the summer of 2021 or beyond
  • They also hold a valid student visa/Tier 4 visa while applying for the Graduate route

These students include those who have already started doing the course.

Applicants under the Graduate route if successful could work or seek work at any level in any sector. They could also shift to skilled work after they find a suitable job as well as meet the requirements.

The 2 years allowed to work is not extensible. You will have to pay the immigration health surcharge and an immigration application fee, though no sponsorship will be necessary from the part of the university.

Here are some details about the city Graduate route:

  • The Graduate route will be launched in Summer 2021.
  • In order to be eligible for the Graduate route, you will be normally expected to undertake your studies in the UK. But, in case you have to continue your current studies or start with a new course by distance or blended learning owing to COVID-19, you could switch to the Graduate route on the basis of a concession. This is considered in case you spent some time in studies outside the UK.
  • If you are a current student, such a concession will benefit you if you entered the UK before April 6, 2021, and complete the last semester of your studies in the UK.
  • If you are one of the January 2021 students and you are in the UK by September 27, 2021, and finish the final semester of your studies in the UK.
  • Being such a student, you will still require to have extant leave as a Student/Tier 4 when the Graduate student route gets launched in 2021.
  • As a student, you must meet other eligibility criteria to be eligible for the route.

So, if you are planning for studies in the UK, explore the ways open for you to work along with doing your course.

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