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Working while studying

If you hold a student visa you will normally be allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week during term time and any number of hours during vacations, if the sticker (Entry Clearance or residence permit) in your passport, or Biometric Residence Permit (formerly an Identity Card for Foreign Nationals) states one of the following:

  • Work (and any changes) must be authorised
  • Able to work as authorised by the Secretary of State
  • Work as in Tier 4 rules
  • Restricted Work. P/T term-time. F/T vacations
  • Restricted work term-time
  • Work limited to max 20 hrs per week during term-time

A student who has a visa to study a course at below degree level may have the condition 'Work limited to max 10 hrs per week during term-time'.

Although these hours are those permitted by the UK Government you need to be careful to maintain a balance between employment and studies. Depending on your course, you may also need to seek approval from your tutor or supervisor for employment outside your studies.

Note that if you are a graduate you are not considered to be on vacation (and therefore should not work more than 20 hours a week) during any period when you are expected to study or be working on your dissertation/thesis, even if this is outside University term time.

A student visa holder must not take work that is filling a full-time permanent vacancy. Self employment is not allowed. Work as a professional sportsperson or entertainer is not allowed.

You are not permitted to work if the sticker in your passport or Biometric Residence Permit states:

  • "No work" or
  • "Work prohibited"

If you do not have a Tier 4 or student visa, but are in the UK as a Student Visitor, you are not permitted to work.

It is a breach of your immigration conditions and a criminal offence to work without permission, or work more than the permitted limit.

For full information about permission to work during your studies, see the UKCISA information on working during your studies.

Obtaining a National Insurance Number

You must apply for a National Insurance Number (NINo) if you start working in the UK (including any form of teaching at Oxford). If you are thinking about starting work you can apply for a NINo before you get a job. A NINo is an individual account number used for recording National Insurance and tax contributions from your pay.

To apply for a NINo, call 0845 600 0643. You will be told when and where to attend an appointment, and which documents to bring, which will include your passport and, if you have one, your Biometric Residence Permit card and information from your employer if you have started or been offered work. More detailed information is available from HM Revenue and Customs.

Dependants of student visa holders

If you have been given permission to stay in the UK for twelve months or more your husband or wife, unmarried partner or civil partner, will normally be given permission to work without restriction. If your dependant applies for their visa separately rather than applying at the same time as you, you should send the relevant pages of your passport so that they can show the immigration official that you have been allowed to stay for twelve months or more. Your dependant should check that they do not have a work restriction or prohibition when their visa is granted.