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Working during your studies

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Tier 4 students

The Home Office permits Tier 4 students to work during their studies but state in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance:

" The main purpose of the Tier 4 visa route is for you to come to the UK to study. Where you are permitted to work, the intention is that this should be to supplement your income whilst studying (which in most cases we expect this to be taking a part-time role for an established business/organisation)..or as part of a work placement provided it is an intergral and assessed part of your course."

Under the UK immigration rules, you are legally permitted to work with the following restrictions:

  • a maximum of 20 hours paid or unpaid work per week during term time for degree students
  • a maximum of 10 hours paid or unpaid work per week during term time for Language Centre students
  • full time work is permitted during vacations 
  • you cannot take a permanent contract (open ended) until you have submitted an application for a work permit e.g. Tier 2 
  • no self-employment (including  freelance or consultancy work or setting up your own business, even if you are not the controlling shareholder)
  • no work as a professional sports person (including sports coach) or entertainer.

Check your BRP  to make sure that you have been given the correct working conditions. If you think the Home Office has made a mistake (for example your BRP says work prohibited), you may be able to get this amended. For details on how to get this amended go to our page on checking your visa and correcting errors. You will be unable to work 20 hours per week until your immigration permission has been amended.

Short-term Student Visas

Work is not permitted on a Short-term Student visa. 

When is 'vacation time'?

All students can work full time during the Christmas and Easter breaks as these are outside term time.

If you are a 12 month or second year 24 month Masters student, the dissertation period until your official programme end date stated on your CAS is not  vacation.  You are still academically engaged with writing your dissertation at this point.

Your academic department is able to authorise a four week vacation during your dissertation period. During these four weeks, you will be able to work full time.  Before starting your full time work, you will need to request a letter from the Registry confirming your vacation.  You cannot work full time without this letter and it cannot be issued retrospectively.

The Registry will only be able to issue a letter confirming this vacation period if the email is sent by a member of staff in your academic department.  Please note that disruption to studies resulting from a vacation period cannot be used in an appeal against a decision of the Board of Examiners.

If your department agrees to authorise a vacation period prior to the end of your course then please ask them to email with the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your LSE ID number
  • The dates of your holiday period that they are willing to authorise (no more than four weeks long).

Any full time work completed during the dissertation period without permission is a breach of your Tier 4 visa conditions. As a Tier 4 sponsor, LSE is legally required as part of our sponsor licence agreement to report any students we are aware have breached the conditions of their visa. You should think carefully about the long term consequences of breaching your working conditions before taking any risks.

What are the term dates for MPhil/PhDs

For all registered research students, vacations are the Christmas and Easter breaks in each year of registration.  However, you are considered to be continuing your studies during the summer vacation.  MPhil/PhD students are not able to work full time during the summer.

Term dates for MPhil/PhD students

PhD students do not benefit from a Summer vacation and are not able to request a vacation during term time.  You may be able to request a vacation during the summer, but you must speak to the PhD Academy about this.

Can I volunteer?

There is a legal distinction between volunteering and paid or unpaid work. However, the definitions are complex so to avoid any problems, you should consider volunteering in the same way as part-time work and not volunteer any more than 20 hours in any seven day period. If you also have a part-time job you must be careful to work no more than 20 hours between volunteering and paid work. For more information go to:

LSE Volunteer Centre

Can I work for more than one employer?

You can have multiple contracts, but during term-time you must not work any more than 20 hours paid or unpaid work each week.  This means 20 hours in total rather than 20 hours per employer.

Both you and your employer have a responsibility to ensure that you do not work more than 20 hours per week.  If you think your contracts may put you at risk of working beyond your permitted hours, you should inform your employers immediately.  This is not an issue that should be dealt with retrospectively as there will be a record of you having worked beyond your permitted hours.

PhD students with multiple contracts

PhD students are advised to monitor the number of hours work they undertake, especially if they have a number of jobs.  For example, if you are working as a Sub-Warden in a halls of residence you should ensure that any other work that you are undertaking does not take you over the 20 hours total per week permitted under the Tier 4 rules.

The official programme end date for PhD students can change depending on whether you needed to extend your visa e.g. for corrections.  Check whether you can work full time with our team before taking a position.

Can I work whilst I have a Tier 4 extension application in progress?

If you applied to extend your Tier 4 visa in the UK before your previous visa expired, the conditions of your Tier 4 visa will continue until you receive a decision on your application.  This is because you are protected by Section 3c leave.  

If your employer requires evidence that you have a Tier 4 visa application in progress, you can provide them with the following documents:

  • your application coversheet confirming you have applied;
  • a letter from the UKVI regarding your application e.g. your biometrics invitation letter;
  • the letter confirming that your Tier 4 has been granted and that your BRP is being delivered.

You should keep your employer up-to-date on your application and provide them with your new BRP as soon as you receive it.

What happens if I break the rules?

If you work when you do not have permission to do so or you take employment that is not covered by the rules, you are committing an immigration offence. If found, you could be:

  • taken to court;
  • fined up to £5,000;
  • be sent to prison for up to six months; 
  • liable to be removed (deported). 
  • banned from returning to the UK from between one to ten years and would have to declare this ban and your illegal working on future immigration applications to the UK and other countries.

You should consider the long term implications working illegally may have on your future before taking the risk.

The Home Office requires Tier 4 sponsors to report breaches of conditions, such as illegal working.  If the LSE becomes aware that you are working illegally, we will be required to report you to the Home Office, which could put our sponsor licence at risk.

How can I show an employer that I can work?

Your visa is your main form of evidence that you have the right to work in the UK.   Employers wanting to recruit students need to confirm that a student has the right to work in the UK. The Home Office will accept the following as acceptable evidence:

  • A printout from the LSE website confirming the term dates of the School.
  • A copy of a letter or email addressed to the student confirming term time dates for the student's course - a Certificate of Registration will confirm this information for your employer.
  • A letter addressed to the employer confirming your term dates - the LSE are unable to confirm to an employer a student's right to work in the UK. However, the certificate of registration includes all the required information for your individual circumstances. 

Your employer can also read the Comprehensive Guidance on Preventing Illegal Working on the Home Office website:

Home Office

They can also call the employers helpline: 0300 123 4699

We have also written a guidance leaflet to outline the rules for employing LSE students

LSE leaflet for employers [pdf]

European Economic Area (EEA) / Swiss Nationals

Most EEA/Swiss nationals do not need to ask for permission from UK Visas and Immigration to work in the UK.  

If you are a Croatian national studying in the UK, you will need to obtain authorisation to work in the UK.  Further advice can be found on the UKVI web pages.

For advice on working in the UK as an EU national, go to UKCISA

More information


UK Visas and Immigration