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What Happens If I Work Over 20 Hours on a Student Visa UK

A UK Student visa allows you to work up to 20 hours per week during a semester. There are serious consequences should the total hours of work be any higher. However, there are certain cases where you might be allowed to work for more than 20 hours.

If you feel you may be in breach of any conditions of your visa or may get into trouble from exceeding the total amount of hours one may work on a Student visa, or if you simply need some advice about which visa will allow you to work for the amount of time you desire, don’t hesitate to contact IAS today online or by telephone on 0333 305 9375.

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Student Visa Rules and Regulations

Aside from allowing you to live and study in the UK, the Student visa, formerly known as the Tier 4 (General) student visa, lets full-time international students take on full-time work outside of term time on a temporary basis and up to 20 hours of work per week during the course term.

It is possible for full-time Student visa holders to work more than 20 hours only in the case of a work placement program that has been arranged through the university. In this case, the placement must be considered as a required and assessed component of your course and it must not take up more than half the total time of your study. This also means being prohibited from certain jobs such as within professional sports, entertainment, or any self-employed (‘gig economy’) work.

Part-time international students generally cannot work or have the total amount of hours reduced. You can check on your visa to see how much work it allows you to undertake in a given week.

Our expert immigration lawyers can assist with your student visa UK.

Consequences of Exceeding the 20 Hour Work Week Requirement

Overview

If you were to exceed the total amount of hours of work afforded to you per week, your university is required to report you to the Home Office, and you may find yourself in breach of the terms of your visa as it is a criminal offence.

Depending on the perceived severity of your case, this could result in repercussions ranging from negatively impacting your ability to apply for a visa in the future, both in the UK and elsewhere, to potential deportation.

Visa Curtailment

Your visa could be shortened or cancelled entirely if you are found to be in violation of how much work you can take on at once. It will almost certainly result in affecting your immigration record and, unfortunately, would put a premature end to your studies in the UK.

Academic Issues

As noted, universities have their own guidelines about how much work they expect you to take on outside of your academic study. Even if you are confident you have not violated the terms of your visa, you should take extra care to note the specific regulations for your institution or you could face expulsion from your course of study. At the least, it will cause problems attempting to reapply for another course in the future.

Future Visa Issues

Applying for visas again in the future could become a problem, or you may be prohibited entirely from applying for certain ones, especially for those most relevant to working in the UK. You will certainly have fewer options, and your application will be subject to extra scrutiny as well as longer processing times. A violation of this nature is treated extremely seriously, and as such you may be treated with extra caution.

Prison Or Deportation

Although not as common as the aforementioned ramifications, it is entirely possible to face deportation or even a prison sentence for violating the terms of your Student visa. This may rely on other factors, such as the overall degree to which you have breached the conditions as well as specific details of the work you undertook during your study and the nature of its legality.

If you fear you may be in trouble for any of the aforementioned reasons, IAS can provide legal support and advice. Contact us today online or on 0333 305 9375.

Wanting to Work More than 20 Hours?

You may take on as much full-time work in a temporary position as desired outside of a semester (during holidays) and do work placements that are an essential component of your course. If you are on a Student visa and you wish to work more than 20 hours per week, there are a number of options available.

University Support

If you feel you are in a position where you need extra help or support, you may choose to speak to a support staff member at your university or contact your Student Union. You could be entitled to financial support or assistance managing your budget.

Many universities have a dedicated advisor for international students and there will almost certainly be other students and graduates in the same position as you ready to share advice.

Skilled Worker Visa

If you are eligible to apply for the Skilled Worker visa through an employer who is able to sponsor you, this is a viable route to living and working full-time in the UK. This is possible after finishing your course of study upon the completion of your Student visa.

Despite the typical minimum wage requirement of £26,200 for a Skilled Worker visa, switching from a Student visa may still be possible upon the completion of your course, especially if you are classed as a ‘new entrant’ or have been studying a Ph.D. for at least 24 months.

The Scale-Up visa is another option that can be applied for from inside the UK if you have graduated or if you have been studying for a PhD for at least 24 months.

If you work in health or social care, you may be eligible for the Health and Care Worker visa.

Graduate Visa

Upon graduating from your course, you may apply for a Graduate visa that will allow you to stay in the UK for 2 years. If you have a Ph.D. you may stay for up to 3 years.

This will allow you to live and work in the UK as well as have ‘dependents’ from your Student visa remain able to live with you.

Get started with obtaining a student visa UK. Contact us today.

Restrictions on Type of Work

Although there may be restrictions on the total amount of time you may work on a Student visa in the UK, the type of work you may undertake is relatively unconstrained, with most students finding they are able to experience an enriching degree of work life in the UK during their study. However, it is important to be clear on the specific job roles typically prohibited for international students.

Unless with special permission, you may not work as a professional sportsperson, sports coach, or in any field related to entertainment, such as acting, modelling, or dancing, regardless of whether it’s paid or unpaid work.

Self-employment is also off-limits, which includes a lot of ‘gig economy’ work, such as food delivery and ride-sharing. You also may be restricted from training or working in a healthcare profession unless you explicitly have permission.

The Home Office guidance on self-employment and business activity may even mean being restricted from broader ways of making money online, such as the sale of unwanted items on sites like eBay or Amazon, as well as earning passive income, such as an artist collecting royalties from Spotify streams.

Most work typical for students, such as in retail, catering, or customer service, will likely be permissible, as will working on a full-time basis as a student union sabbatical officer for up to 2 years.

How Can IAS Help?

If you fear you may be in trouble for working more than 20 hours per week or within a field of work your Student visa may not have allowed, if you are an international student who needs advice, or if you simply need assistance applying for the ideal visa for your personal situation, the Immigration Advice Service is here to help.

The consequences of breaking the terms of your visa can be serious. Still, our team of experienced immigration lawyers and advisors are at hand to deliver the best service your individual circumstances require.

We are based in multiple offices across the UK, including Manchester, Birmingham, and London; contact IAS online today or call us on 0333 305 9375.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A healthcare student on a Student visa will often have a work placement with the NHS as part of their course, which does not count towards the 20 hours of work per week afforded to international students. Your individual circumstances may be different, which is why you should always carefully check the terms of your visa or speak to an advisor at your institution before you find extra work. You may also contact us for advice.

How many hours a student should work is entirely dependent on their individual circumstances. It is entirely possible for a student to study and not need to work any hours outside of their study. Still, if extra money is required there are certain support systems through the university and the government to help students financially, including teaching to budget more efficiently.

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