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Employing students on Student/Tier 4 visas

What is a Student/Tier 4 visa?

This is a visa that non-EEA and non-Swiss nationals can apply for in order to study in the UK. It usually also allows them to work but with restrictions which both the individual and you as a manager must comply with.

Information can also be found in the Guide for Student/Tier 4 Visa Holders.

What restrictions do I need to be aware of?

Any restrictions will be made clear on their immigration documents which must always be checked

In general*, an individual on a Student/Tier 4 visa studying a degree-level programme (or one on a Study Abroad Programme) is permitted to work for a maximum of 20 hours a week during term-time and full-time during vacation periods.

They are also not allowed to:
• be employed as a doctor in training (except on a recognised foundation programme)
• be employed as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach)
• be employed as an entertainer
• be self-employed or engage in business activity
• fill a full-time, permanent vacancy (except on a recognised foundation programme or as a students’ union sabbatical officer)

*Note that students on a Student/Tier 4 (Child) visa, who are 16 and over, and students studying a programme lower than degree level, can both work for a maximum of 10 hours a week during term-time (and full-time during vacation periods). It is rare for the University to employ students with these restrictions so please be alert when checking.

What is classed as a vacation period and what do I need to see as evidence?

• Undergraduate Tier 4 Students may work full-time during official University vacation periods (Christmas, Easter and Summer). This does not include reading weeks. You as the hiring manager should check the published term dates for details and keep a screenshot as evidence that you have done so.
• Postgraduate Taught/Masters students can work full-time at Christmas and Easter but cannot work full-time during the summer as this is classed as term-time while working on their dissertation. They can work full-time once they have finished all of their taught components and have submitted all assessed work including their final dissertation. See ‘Can I employ Tier 4 students full-time after their studies?’ for details. You as the hiring manager should check the published term dates for details and keep a screenshot as evidence that you have done so.
• PhD students are entitled to a total of 8 weeks’ vacation per academic year. They can work full-time only during these 8 weeks of vacation and any vacation periods must be agreed in writing with their supervisor and School before they work full-time. They can also work full-time in the period between submitting their thesis and the day before their viva. They revert to being restricted to 20 hours working from the day of their VIVA until they submit their corrected thesis in full. You as the hiring manager must procure a letter of confirmation from their supervisor and keep a copy as evidence that you have done so.

Can I employ individuals on a Student/Tier 4 visa full-time after their studies?

• After individuals on a Student/Tier 4 visa have completed their studies, they can work full time until their visa expires (usually up to four months after they have completed).
• Postgraduate Taught/Masters students can work full-time after the official course end date, provided that it is on a temporary or rolling contract and not a permanent position. However you should be aware if engaging them prior to their degree being conferred, that they may be required to re-submit their thesis/retake exams. In this period of 'academic extension' they would no longer be able to work full-time.
• For PhD students, completion is defined as having taken the viva and there are no further corrections/amendments (no matter how minor) to be done i.e. there is no further work to be done.

For all of the above students must produce a letter from Student Services to confirm completion before they can commence working full time.

How does the University ensure Sudent/Tier 4 workers do not exceed their visa restrictions?

People & OD Operations issue a letter of appointment which outlines the student’s responsibilities for ensuring that they do not exceed their permitted working hours; the student is required to sign and return a copy of this letter to confirm their acceptance and understanding.

People & OD Operations also complete the Right to Work checks and copy and certify the passport and BRP, keeping a record on the Personnel file. For ease of reference, a copy of the academic calendar is also held on the Personnel file.

People & OD Operations have also implemented a timesheet system to identify Student/Tier 4 individuals and ensure that hours claimed are within their permitted visa limits for their total employment, where they have more than one job with the University.

Can I pay Student/Tier 4 individuals for work using the PR7 or PR5 forms?

The PR7 form is for payment to external staff and contractors. Student/Tier 4 individuals are not permitted to be self-employed or engage in business activity, therefore they cannot be set up or paid as suppliers or independent contractors using the PR7 process.

The PR5 form is for payment of fees to internal staff for work; Student/Tier 4 individuals should usually be paid for work as casuals, via timesheet, or as salaried staff. This is in order to ensure that they are not exceeding their weekly working hours restriction. The PR5 should only be used for paying Student/Tier 4 individuals for work in very exceptional circumstances, and you should both discuss this with your People & OD Partner and confirm the work will not take the student in excess of their weekly restriction in advance of offering the work.

If a Student/Tier 4 individual needs to be paid for subsistence, this needs to be arranged via Student Services; e-mail:

Can I engage Student/Tier 4 individuals to perform unpaid/voluntary work?

Student/Tier 4 individuals can both volunteer and do voluntary work in the UK, provided they are permitted to work and their visa must be checked to confirm this. Any voluntary work contributes to their weekly work allowance on Student/Tier 4, so any hours you give them must not exceed their limit, either on its own or combined with other types of paid or unpaid work they are doing.

Note that the UKVI makes a distinction between voluntary work and volunteering:

• Voluntary workers will usually have contractual obligations to perform the work (e.g. to attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks) with the employer being contractually required to provide the work – the contract does not have to be written. The worker is usually remunerated in kind.

• Students who are volunteering do not have a contract, they must not be a substitute for an employee and they must not be doing unpaid work – i.e. receiving payment in kind (although they are sometimes reimbursed for reasonable travel and subsistence expenses). Volunteers usually help a charity or voluntary or public sector organisation.

Where can I direct my Student/Tier 4 staff to find more information?

More information for students on working whilst studying can be found on the Manchester student information pages and in this leaflet. They can also read more about working in the UK following their studies.