Working in the UK
As an international student, certain employment restrictions apply depending on the type of visa you have.
If you have entered the UK on a Tier 4 student visa for more than six months and your passport sticker says 'Work (and any changes) must be authorised' or 'Able to work as authorised by the Secretary of State' or 'Restricted work in term-time', you are allowed to work.
EEA and Swiss nationals can currently enter the UK freely and work without restrictions.
Hours per week you can work
A restriction means you can work without obtaining permission for a restricted number of hours a week during term-time. The number of hours you can work during term-time varies depending on whether you are studying at degree or below degree level:
- If you have a Tier 4 student visa and are studying at degree level (for example an undergraduate or postgraduate degree), then you're allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during term-time, and full-time during your holidays, at a work placement or an internship.
- If you have a Tier 4 student visa and you are studying below degree level, (for example, an English language course or International Foundation Programme) then you are only allowed to work up to 10 hours a week during term-time and full-time during the holidays.
'No work' restrictions
If your passport sticker or identity card says 'No work', you must not work in the UK. This would be a breach of your immigration conditions, which is a criminal offence.
If you have entered the UK as a student visitor, you're not allowed to work in the UK (paid or unpaid) or do any work placement as part of your course.
If you have a Tier 4 student visa, you can work full-time on a work placement as long as the work placement is less than 50% of the length of the course – unless the law states that you must spend more than half of your course doing work placements (this applies to Postgraduate Certificate in Education).
Your work placement must be an assessed part of your course, and it can take place at any point in your studies.
As a visa holder, you can do most kinds of work, but you must not:
- be self-employed
- be employed as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
- be employed as an entertainer
- take a permanent full-time job.
It is important to be realistic about the job opportunities available. In the UK, generally students obtain part-time relatively low-paid casual work, paid at the National Minimum Wage. Typically this kind of work includes working in a shop, a restaurant or bar, as a cleaner or as a computer data entry clerk.
You cannot rely on securing a part-time job to pay your fees or living expenses.
The Jobshop operates as a temporary student employment agency providing part-time jobs with the Students’ Union, University and outside companies.It is a free service for all Cardiff University students.
All vacancies that are advertised pay at least at the adult National Minimum Wage (currently £6.70 per hour) for workers aged 21 and over, while positions within Cardiff University will usually be paid at the Living Wage – currently £8.25 per hour (all wages correct as of January 2016).
Once you arrive in Cardiff, you can register by calling into the Jobshop in the Students’ Union building with your student ID card and passport.
Voluntary work is unpaid work for charities and other organisations such as schools or youth centres. It gives you will have a great opportunity to develop new skills, meet local people and be involved in something worthwhile in Cardiff.
Potential employers are always interested in hearing about any voluntary work that you have been involved in and it can potentially enhance your CV.
Student Volunteering Cardiff (SVC) offers a variety of voluntary work placements which will develop communication and team skills, increase work experience (and improve CVs) and help you experience different aspects of British culture. It will also help you to improve your English.
Certificate of Good Conduct
If you're considering volunteering you may need a Certificate of Good Conduct from your country as there are some regulations for volunteers working in the UK, especially when working with children. If you don't have one, don’t worry – some placements don’t require one.
Working in the UK after your studies
If you have successfully completed and been awarded your degree, you can apply to stay and work in the UK as a skilled worker on a Tier 2 visa.
You will need to have secured a graduate level job offer with an employer who is a UKVI registered Tier 2 sponsor. You must obtain this job offer before your current student visa expires and you have to leave in the UK.
We have a dedicated Careers Service, which offers advice and support on searching for work, obtaining work experience, choosing a career, employer information and further study.
If you're uncertain of the meaning of the statement placed in your passport regarding permission to work, please check when you arrive in Cardiff with the International Student Advisory Team in the Student Support Centre. The Education UK website also has guidance about working while you study.