Students on a Tier 4 visa are limited to certain time restrictions for the work that they do:
- no more than 10 hours per week in term-time if your course is below degree level (e.g. a Foundation or Pre-Sessional course)
- no more than 20 hours per week in term-time if your course is at degree level
- a full-time role (36.5 hours) during vacation
The times refer to the amount of time that you can work in total e.g. if you work a job during term-time, and also complete any unpaid voluntary work, the combined time you do these activities for cannot exceed 10 or 20 hours per week (depending on your course level).
It is also important to remember that:
- you cannot work in the UK if you have any type of visitor visa or a Short Term Study visa
- you cannot work in the UK on your Tier 4 visa if you go into suspense or withdraw from your course
- if you complete your course early your visa will be cut short. You can work full-time after your new course end date for the amount of time you were given on your original visa (usually four months, or six months for one-year master's students participating in the Tier 4 pilot scheme).
If you find out that your work conditions are incorrect for your visa, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UK government also provides details of the work that you can and cannot do in its Tier 4 guidance document (pgs. 65-70).
Postgraduate taught students writing up a dissertation
'Term-time' includes any time spent writing up your dissertation. Work is therefore restricted to 20 hours per week. You cannot work full-time until your official end date on SAMIS.
If you submit your dissertation early you are not permitted to work full-time until your actual course end date.
Postgraduate research students
You can work full-time during vacation time that has been agreed with your supervisor and authorised using the authorised absence form available on SAMIS online. You must submit a request under the 'VACATION' category.
You can request a longer period of vacation in between submitting your dissertation and completing your viva, but this must be authorised by your Director of Studies using the authorised absence form available on SAMIS online. You must submit a request under the 'POST SUBMISSION' category.
You are restricted to 20 hours per week from the date of your viva until your degree is awarded.
Human Resources provide more information on Tier 4 working restrictions.
Rules and restrictions
There are strict rules about work that you can and cannot do on your Tier 4 visa. Work activities are split into three categories:
- prohibited (you are not allowed to do this under any circumstances)
- restricted (you may be able to do this work, but under certain limitations)
- unrestricted (work that you are allowed to do)
Examples of prohibited, restricted and unrestricted work
These lists should not be seen as definitive. If you are looking to start any kind of work outside of your course, we recommend that you contact the Student Immigration Service before you commit to anything.
If you are on a Tier 4 visa, you must not do any prohibited activities under any circumstances.
Employment as a professional or semi-professional sportsperson (including a sports coach)
- sports coaching / coaching education e.g. as part of an after school club or as part of a Sunday sports club for which you are paid
- playing or coaching in any capacity e.g. zumba / dance / yoga / fitness instructor for which you are paid
Employment as an entertainer
- employed as an entertainer e.g. DJ, musician (whether self-employed or as a paid employee)
- taking part in television shows (check with organisers whether this is considered employment)
- any freelance work, including working remotely (outside of a company office, but connected digitally e.g. emails) from any country
- performing for audiences on stage, cabaret or comedy shows e.g. singing, stand-up comedy, playing music, tribute acts, children's magician
Including but not limited to:
- selling things for personal profit on campus or in pop-up shops (selling from temporary bases e.g. at a music festival or other event)
- selling items for a profit on a regular basis (trading) on Amazon, eBay, Etsy etc. (occasional sales of unwanted items are permitted)
- using a skillset to obtain a personal contract, either for profit or unpaid e.g. if a member of a student society contributes to work on a society project with a client, and then obtains more work from that client in a personal contract
- any activity in which you are paid in cash e.g. dog walking, babysitting etc.
- private tuition / teaching
If you wish to set up a self-employed worker after your graduate (e.g. start your own business in the UK, or work as a freelancer) then you should contact a Student Immigration Adviser in the first instance to discuss your options.
- 'Gig economy' work such as Uber, MyHermes, DPD, Deliveroo etc. (short-term contracts with last minute scheduling/freelancing)
- direct selling i.e. going to people's homes to sell products directly to them, or in any location that is not a permanent retail office
- setting up a business e.g. you cannot set up a business with the Innovation Centre, even if this follows on from a business plan created with Bath Entrepreneurs' Society. You also cannot set up a business with groups such as ENACTUS
- running an online business; this includes collecting 'passive' income from affiliate marketing e.g. clicks on your YouTube videos
- working for an employer based outside of the UK while you are in the UK (you may work for an overseas employer if you are not in the UK)
- working for a company in which you hold shares of 10% or more (including where the shares are held in a trust for you)
- working for a company where you hold a statutory role, such as director
- having a partnership arrangement with a trading business
- regularly buying and selling shares
- Bitcoin mining
- any full-time, permanent contract (i.e. taking a full-time job alongside studying), except in a role as a Student Union executive officer
If in doubt, always remember that you cannot run any business in the UK; this is even the case if all of your clients for that business are outside of the UK.
Restricted work refers to paid work you can do, but which is restricted by the 10 or 20 hour time limit detailed on your visa.
Examples of restricted work include:
- participating in focus groups or clinical trials
- resident tutors (being 'on call' in this role for no more than the maximum hours detailed in your Tier 4 visa)
- hourly paid work at the University
- part-time paid employment
If you wish to start any kind of work, you should discuss this first with a Student Immigration Adviser.
You will also need to make sure that you understand how the University's Tier 4 Worker Booking System works. You cannot do any work at the University without using this system.
Voluntary work is different to volunteering, which is explained in the section titled, 'Unrestricted'.
In voluntary work, you will normally have contractual obligations to perform the work (e.g. to attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks), with the employer contractually obliged to provide you with the work. The contract does not have to be written, and you will normally be paid 'in kind' i.e. you will receive a benefit instead of monetary payment, such as accommodation for the duration of your contract.
Voluntary work could, for example, include:
- stewarding at events for which you receive benefits instead of payment e.g music festivals for which you receive free entry (e.g. via wristbands)
- any work for which you receive payment in the form of vouchers or other incentives e.g. receiving Amazon vouchers for acting as a student caller
You are able to do any unrestricted activities.
Examples of unrestricted activities include:
- placements that are an assessed and integral part of your course
- performances that are part of your course
- academic and business programmes and work placements forming part of your course, including secondments to businesses
- acting/performing as an amateur. An amateur is defined as 'a person who engages in a sport or creative activity for personal enjoyment and who is not seeking to derive a living from the activity'. Other examples include being an amateur sports player or coach i.e. not receiving payment, such as coaching as part of a student club or society.
- owning a property and gaining income from it (although you must pay tax on your rental income)
Volunteering is an unrestricted activity. This is different to voluntary work as no contract is involved, and there are no payments 'in kind' except for reasonable travel and subsistence (food and drink) expenses.
If you are in any doubt about whether an activity you are planning is prohibited, restricted or unrestricted, please email email@example.com.