Find out about your rights to work while in the UK
Am I allowed to work during my studies?
Student Visitor Visa-holders
If you have a Student Visitor Visa you may not do any work, paid or unpaid.
Tier 4 Visa-holders
For Tier 4 (General) Visa holders who are studying an undergraduate degree programme, you can usually work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during the University vacations. Please check your Visa/Biometric Residence Permit (BRP card) – it will tell you if you have permission to work.
If your visa shows less than 20 hours per week or no work allowed this may be an error, please contact the Visa and Immigration team for more information about what you should do. This must be within 10 days of receiving your visa.
If you are a postgraduate student you are considered to be in term time throughout your degree, including during University vacations. Therefore, if you are a Postgraduate student with permission to work you should ensure that you only work up to 20 hours per week for the duration of your degree.
This means that you must have completed and submitted all the work required for your degree (including the completion of your viva and submission of your final bound thesis) before you can work full time. Check your Visa/Biometric Residence Permit (BRP Card)– it will tell you if you are permitted to work.
Full-time postgraduate students are required to register at times to be specified and, unless registered as part-time students, they are required to be engaged full-time on their studies for the duration of their course except for up to 20 days’ holidays as approved in writing by their department(s) or supervisor(s). Students must present themselves for examination when required to do so.
A full-time postgraduate student may, subject to the approval of the department(s) concerned, undertake demonstrating, teaching or other academic-related work, provided that the work is compatible with the student's academic obligations. The total time devoted to such work shall not exceed an average of six hours per week in any one term.
Students should consult the department(s) concerned prior to undertaking any other paid work, in order to ensure that the work would not interfere with their studies.
Tier 4 and Visa national students must also ensure that any work (paid or voluntary) will not conflict with their visa requirements.
To request a holiday a postgraduate student should make that request in writing to their supervisor who should respond in writing indicating the dates for which the period of holiday applies.
If you are financially sponsored for your studies by an official governing body, you should also seek pre-approval from them if you wish to work in accordance with your visa conditions during a vacation period. Once approved, you will be issued with a letter to confirm the dates of the vacation period.
International /Tier 4 and visa national students must submit a copy of the approval to the Lancaster University Visa and Immigration Team,( located within the Registry, Student Based Services, University House) and to any employer in order for the employer to be aware of the student’s right to work during that vacation period.
Please note that for visa national students the immigration rules do change frequently and you are advised to check here for further details about working during your studies:
Undergraduate and Postgraduate
If you are allowed to work, you cannot:
• be employed as a doctor in training (except on a recognised foundation programme);
• be employed as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach);
• be employed as an entertainer; • be self-employed or engage in business activity; or
• fill a full-time, permanent vacancy (except on a recognised foundation programme or as a students’ union sabbatical officer)
Course below Bachelors Degree Level
If you have a Tier 4 (General) Visa on a course at below level NQF 6 (Bachelors) and you have permission to work, you can work for ten hours per week (paid or unpaid) during term time, and full-time during official University vacation periods.
Special arrangements for Croatian students
Nationals from Croatia who want to work up to 20 hours per week must complete a CR1 form. To complete this form you also need a Registration Certificate. Please ensure that you have all the relevant documents including an EHIC card obtained in your home country, otherwise you will need to buy comprehensive private healthcare insurance before you submit your CR1 application. For more information visit www.gov.uk/croatian-national
For further information please email the Lancaster University Visa and Immigration Team at:
firstname.lastname@example.org for advice about your Tier 4 visa
Can I take work placements?
Tier 4 students can take work placements as long as they do not constitute more than 50 percent of the duration of a course at level NQF 6 or above, or not more than 33 percent of a course below NQF level 6.
Can I be self-employed?
You cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity. Everyone in the UK undertaking self-employed work must be registered with HMRC; you must check HMRC guidance to see if you need to be registered as self-employed.
You will be considered to be engaging in business activity where you are working for a business in a capacity other than an employee in which you have a financial or other significant beneficial interest.
This would include the following:
- setting up a business as a sole trader or under a partnership arrangement and that business is either trading or establishing a trading presence;
- being employed by a company in which you hold shares of 10% or more (including where the shares are held in a trust for you); or
- working for a company where you also hold a statutory role, such as a director.
This is not an exhaustive list but provides examples of the types of circumstance in which you will be considered to be engaged in business activity.
Please note that the University will have to report you to the Home Office if you are found to be in breach of the self employment rules and regulations. This could result in your Tier 4 (General) visa being curtailed and you having to leave the UK.
Where can I get further information about working during my studies?
You can find helpful advice about working during your studies at the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.
Alternatively you can contact the Visa and Immigration Team on email@example.com to ask for clarification on working conditions.
Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
This visa route is for overseas UK graduates identified by an HEI (Lancaster University) as having developed a genuine and credible business idea and entrepreneurial skills to establish one or more businesses in the UK. The visa allows you to stay in the UK for 12 months to establish and develop a business in the UK. This can be extended for up to a further 12months provided satisfactory progress is being made.
Who is the scheme open to?
- Lancaster University overseas graduates who completed their studies within the last 3 years
- Doctoral researchers working at Lancaster on a Tier 2 visa
- The University will also consider current students who are in their final year of studies, however, an endorsement will only be provided upon successful completion of your degree programme
How do I apply for an Endorsement?
- You will need to complete the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur application form, which is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- You will need to submit a Business Plan with the application
- A template is available within the application pack. You may be contacted by the team to discuss your application
- If the team are satisfied you have a credible business proposal, an endorsement will be offered to you
How can the Enterprise Team help?
Lancaster University Enterprise Centre exists to help students and graduates to make their ideas happen. One of our main areas of activity is business planning and this includes supporting you in writing your Business Plan.
In order to receive the initial endorsement, your Business Plan needs to describe how the value of your idea will enable you to survive as a new business owner in the UK, and how you will make it grow sustainably over the following few years.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your idea – indeed you might not even have one yet – so get in touch to arrange a chat and we can look at how you can prepare to create your own graduate career.
Visa Application Information
If you are applying from within the UK the visa application will cost £465 plus the healthcare surcharge fee. There are additional costs if you have any dependants. You must have a current valid visa to apply within the UK. Please contact the visa team to find out if you can switch to this visa.
You will need:
- An endorsement letter from Lancaster University
- Bank statements showing maintenance funds of £945 held for 90 consecutive days
- A current passport or other valid travel identification
- 1 passport-sized colour photograph
- Your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
There are different requirements for applying from outside the UK. Full details of the requirements are available via the Home Office website: https://www.gov.uk/tier-1-graduate-entrepreneur-visa/overview
Note: You must only put your business plans into action once you have submitted your application to the Home Office. You must under no circumstances start your own business before this, if you do then as a University we will report you to the Home Office which could result in your current Tier 4 visa being curtailed and you being asked to leave the UK. We would also no longer be able to endorse you for the Tier 1 visa.
To contact the Tier 1 Visa team please use the following email: email@example.com
Alternatively for the enterprise team use: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that endorsements are limited therefore we encourage early applications so not to miss out.
Tier 2 (General) Visa
You can apply for the Tier 2 (General) Visa if you have been offered a skilled job and are outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
You will need to be sponsored by an employer and they will need to provide you with a certificate of sponsorship in order to be eligible to apply.
Switch from a Tier 4 or other student visa
You must have one of these qualifications from your student visa if you want to switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 (General) visa:
- a UK bachelors degree
- a UK masters degree
- a postgraduate certificate in education
- a professional graduate diploma of education
You must have got your qualification at a UK recognised body or an institution that has a Tier 4 sponsor licence. After switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa it could be issued for up to 5 years.
For further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/overview
Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme
This scheme is designed to give students who have completed finished their UK PhD or other doctorate qualification an additional 12 months of Tier 4 (General) immigration permission in which to look for and start work in the UK. You can only apply for this visa from within the UK and you must have a current Tier 4 (General) student visa in order to be eligible.
You must apply no more than 60 days before you course completion date as stated on your CAS.
If you are granted the visa, once you have successfully completed your PhD, there will be fewer restrictions on the work you can do and you can use the 12 months to gain further experience in your chosen field, seek skilled work, or develop plans to set up as an entrepreneur. There are exceptions for some limited professions such as doctors or dentists in training or sportspersons (including coaches). The restrictions will be listed on your Biometric Residence Permit.
If you are granted the visa you will have unrestricted work rights except for some limited professions such as doctors or dentists in training or sportspersons (including coaches). The restrictions will be listed on your Biometric Residence Permit.
How to Apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme
You will need to complete the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme Application Form, this is available by emailing email@example.com or by picking up a hard copy from a member of the visa team during the visa drop in sessions, held Monday-Friday between 12.30-1.30pm at the Base (term time only).
You should not require a new ATAS certificate for your Doctorate Extension Scheme application.
You MUST use our visa advisers to submit the application; you will need to make an appointment at the Base to do this. During the appointment the adviser will help you check the application and the documents before submitting the form.
Visa Application Information
It is the same application form used for the Tier 4 (General) in country and therefore will cost £448 for a standard application plus the immigration healthcare surcharge.
You must have:
- A valid CAS issued by Lancaster University
- Bank statements showing you have held the required maintenance funds in your account for a period of 28 consecutive days. You must show 2 months' of maintenance at £1015 per month
- Current passport and visa (BRP card)
- 1 passport sized colour photograph with your name written on the reverse side
Responsibilities if Visa Granted
You will only be subject to the new work conditions attached the doctorate extension scheme once you have successfully completed your course. You will be regarded as having done this on the date Lancaster University confirm to the Home Office that your PhD has been awarded.
Lancaster University has monitoring responsibilities throughout the 12 months you are in the UK on the scheme. You must remain in contact with the University on a quarterly basis (every 3 months). You will receive formal email requests from the Visa & Immigration team asking you to provide an update on how your employment search is going.
You MUST respond to these emails when you receive them. Failure to respond within 7 days without good reason will result in the University reporting this to the Home Office and withdrawing sponsorship from you. In turn your Doctorate Extension Scheme visa will be curtailed by the Home Office asking you to return to your Home Country.
Should you be successful in finding work whilst on the scheme you need to inform the University of this, even if you have not been sent a formal email requesting an update.
If you decide to change visa category part way through your visa, for example being offered permanent work and deciding to a switch to a Tier 2 visa you will need to inform the University. We will then withdraw sponsorship from you early and cease to continue monitoring your progress.
Where can I get more information about working after my studies?
You can get more information from the UK Council for International Student Affairs.