Right to work for Tier 4 student visa holders

Most undergraduate and taught postgraduate students on Tier 4 visas are restricted to a maximum of 20 hours per week work during term-time. Any time during which students have study commitments (this includes any weeks when the student has study commitments, even if this is outside of the standard term-time) is also included in this restriction. Paid and unpaid work count towards the student's maximum permitted working hours. For information on acceptable evidence of term and vacation dates, please see the guidance below.

 

Most postgraduate research students on Tier 4 visas are restricted to a maximum of 20 hours per week of work throughout the year, since research students are not considered to have terms. For further details about employing Tier 4 postgraduates, please see the guidance below.

 

 

Please note: Short term student visa holders and visitor visa holders are prohibited from taking any employment, whether paid or unpaid. You must check the student's visa for any work restrictions.

 
 

Tier 4 Student visa holders are not permitted to:

  • be self-employed;
  • be employed as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach;
  • be employed as an entertainer;
  • take a permanent full-time job;
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless they are on the foundation programme.

Students may take voluntary work. Any hours spent doing voluntary or unpaid work count towards the student’s maximum permitted hours during term-time.

Following completion of their studies, students may work full-time. Completion of studies is usually interpreted as when the final exam is sat or when leave to supplicate is granted. In either case students should not work more than four months full-time on their student visa following completion of studies, unless they have submitted a valid application for a new visa status. Students who complete early and have a long period remaining on their student visa will be reported to the Home Office and their visa will be curtailed. Because this generally takes three to four months, the student should not be disadvantaged compared to those who complete on schedule.

Some Masters students will have been issued a Tier 4 visa with a six-month period after their course completion date, during which they can look for and undertake work. In these cases, a report of early completion is not made to the Home Office if they complete their studies as planned, and they can work for the full remaining six-month period until the expiry of their Tier 4 visa. The above restrictions on the type of work that is prohibited still apply. You must seek either written confirmation from the research supervisor, confirmation that the student’s thesis has been submitted, or confirmation that the student has completed their studies before employing a student visa holder – see further information below. Please note that, if a student is later required to complete corrections, they are then considered to be studying again and the restrictions on maximum hours permitted for employment during term-time will similarly apply.

Junior Deans

The 20-hour weekly limit for Tier 4 students includes hours worked as a Junior Dean and any other work across all employers. For Junior Deans on Tier 4 visas, work is defined as follows: although they may be on-call all night or weekend in case something happens, only the time spent dealing with incidents will count towards the 20 hour limit. Being on-call in case something happens is distinguished from situations in which those who are on-call at night expect frequent call outs, for example when Junior Deans do double duty as porters or make regular rounds. In practice, except in extremely exceptional circumstances, the average number of times that Tier 4 Junior Deans can be called out to deal with welfare and disciplinary matters at night should not exceed once a week in term time and once a month during the vacation. Where the pattern of frequency of call out regularly exceeds this guidance, alternative arrangements to staffing Junior Dean posts should be made.

Biometric Residence Permits for overseas applicants

 

Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) (credit-card sized plastic visa cards) are now issued to those applying overseas for permission to stay in the UK for more than six months. The applicant will be issued with a 30-day vignette to enable them to enter the UK, but they must then collect their BRP within 10 days from a designated Post Office.

A letter issued to the applicant, along with their 30-day vignette, details the designated Post Office and the date from which the BRP will be available for collection, based on the UK address and intended travel date listed in the visa application. The passport containing the vignette and the letter must be presented when collecting the BRP. If the applicant does not collect their BRP within 10 days, they could face a financial penalty and have may have their visa curtailed. Guidance in relation to BRPs for overseas applicants, and the schedule for the international roll-out, can be found on the Home Office website.

When conducting a right to work check, departments or colleges must ensure that a copy of the BRP is taken (where the visa holder is expected to hold one), as well as the 30-day vignette showing the entry date stamp. Visa holders should be advised to collect their Biometric Residence Permit before starting work, so that a right to work check can be completed in full as required.

If for any reason a visa holder is unable to collect their BRP before they commence work, the department or college may rely on the 30-day vignette as proof of right to work (assuming it is valid) only up to the expiry date of this temporary visa. The visa holder should be advised to collect their BRP as soon as possible and before the 30-day vignette expires, and present it to their department or college as proof of continued right to work. In these circumstances, departments and colleges must complete an initial right to work check on the 30 day vignette and a repeat right to work check on the BRP before the 30-day vignette expires.

Departments and colleges will recognise those applicants from overseas who should have a BRP by the expiry date of their vignette (visa in their passport), which will be valid for only one month.

In addition to completing a right to work check using the student’s visa and passport following the normal right to work check process, you are also required to obtain additional documentation in relation to the student’s term and vacation dates specific to their particular course of study, as well as information about any work taken elsewhere in addition to the work you are offering before allowing the student to start work. See further guidance below.

In order to establish when you may employ a student visa holder full-time and when you must adhere to the restricted term-time hours as noted on their visa, you must seek evidence to confirm the student’s term and vacation dates.

For Oxford students on Tier 4 visas, it is acceptable to hold this information in the form of printed term dates from the website or other official published material. There is no requirement to hold a copy on each Oxford student’s file but there must be a copy easily accessible should the Home Office wish to see it at any time; we suggest a copy is placed in the place where Personnel files are kept.

For non-Oxford students on Tier 4 visas, confirmation of term dates must be held on each individual file alongside the right to work check documentation. The Home Office will only accept one of the following forms of evidence in these circumstances:

  • A printout from the student’s education institution’s website or other material published by the institution setting out its timetable for the student’s course of study (you should check the website to confirm the link is genuine); or
  • A copy of a letter or email addressed to the student from their education institution confirming term-time dates for the student’s course; or
  • A letter addressed to you as the employer from the education institution confirming term-time dates for the student’s course.

For undergraduate and taught postgraduate students, a printout of the University’s timetable is acceptable evidence of term and vacation dates, as long as these are the dates followed for the student’s particular course of study. Please see the following webpage for Oxford’s term and vacation dates. For students from other education institutions, you will need to refer to the website of that institution for their respective term and vacation dates.

In order to establish when you may employ a student visa holder full-time and when you must adhere to the restricted term-time hours as noted on their visa, you must seek evidence to confirm the student’s term and vacation dates.

For Oxford students on Tier 4 visas, it is acceptable to hold this information in the form of printed term dates from the website or other official published material. There is no requirement to hold a copy on each Oxford student’s file but there must be a copy easily accessible should the Home Office wish to see it at any time; we suggest a copy is placed in the place where Personnel files are kept.

For non-Oxford students on Tier 4 visas, confirmation of term dates must be held on each individual file alongside the right to work check documentation. The Home Office will only accept one of the following forms of evidence in these circumstances:

  • A printout from the student’s education institution’s website or other material published by the institution setting out its timetable for the student’s course of study (you should check the website to confirm the link is genuine); or
  • A copy of a letter or email addressed to the student from their education institution confirming term-time dates for the student’s course; or
  • A letter addressed to you as the employer from the education institution confirming term-time dates for the student’s course.

Graduate research students are considered to have study commitments throughout the year and do not follow the standard pattern of vacations. As such, a graduate research student should generally not be employed for more than 20 hours per week (even outside of the normal term times), however, see paragraph below for instances where you need to employ a graduate research student more than 20 hours per week.

When completing a right to work check for an employed student visa holder who is a graduate research student at Oxford you should print and retain a copy of the working while studying guidelines. This is sufficient to employ an Oxford graduate research student (who is a student visa holder) for up to twenty hours per week (along with a right to work check completed using their student visa and passport). If you wish to employ a student visa holder who is a graduate research student at another institution, you must ask for written confirmation of term and vacation dates for the student’s course from the institution.

In circumstances where it is agreed between the graduate research student and their research supervisor that they may work beyond 20 hours per week, you must seek written permission from the student’s research supervisor which confirms that the student is considered to be on vacation (specifying the dates), that they are not expected to study or complete any work towards their thesis during this time, and that therefore may take full-time employment during the specified vacation period. You may use the Graduate Student Employment Template Letter   to give to the student’s research supervisor to complete as evidence that the student may take full-time employment.

All students on Tier 4 visas have restrictions on the number of hours they may work (for undergraduate and taught postgraduates only during term-time; for research postgraduates throughout the year). These restrictions apply to the total number of hours worked in other departments at Oxford, in colleges and for external employers (not just in the employment you are offering), and includes both paid and unpaid work. You must ask the student to complete the Tier 4 Student Employment Declaration  to confirm whether they are employed anywhere else, in order to prevent them from working in excess of their permitted hours and/or the hours of work offered taking them in excess of their permitted term-time hours. 

Both the evidence of term and vacation dates (including the letter from the research supervisor for graduate students employed in excess of 20 hours per week) and the Student Employment Declaration must be obtained and retained with the right to work check before the student commences work.

The casual payment process enables the Staff Immigration Team to undertake routine monthly checks to ensure that all casual workers have a valid right to work check included on their CoreHR record, and to monitor the weekly working hours undertaken by casuals on a Tier 4 visa to ensure they do not exceed the maximum hours imposed by their visa.

 

The process requires any Tier 4 student who plans to work more than 20 hours in any week to email Tier4casualpayments@admin.ox.ac.uk to provide SIT with their name, student number, and course. If they are a postgraduate research student, a scanned copy of the letter from their doctoral supervisor providing the dates that they are ‘on holiday’ from their research studies will also need to be obtained. This will allow SIT to authorise the payment. If you know any Tier 4 student who will be working over 20 hours in a week, please make them aware of this change. All Tier 4 students have also been informed of this requirement.

 

Casual pay requests will not be processed for individuals with incorrect or incomplete right to work information in CoreHR, or where there are questions over Tier 4 hours. If pay is stopped, the Staff Immigration Team will inform the department why this has happened and a correct casual payment will need to be resubmitted in the following month.

PhD/DPhil students who are nearing completion of their studies and hold a Tier 4 student visa can apply for a 12-month extension of their visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme. A Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa is, therefore, an extension under Tier 4 rather than a different type of visa, and the same restrictions on weekly hours worked apply as with a regular Tier 4 student visa. A Tier 4 DES visa permits the holder to look for and undertake work; however, please note that they will need to have completed their studies (been granted leave to supplicate) before they can work full time.

If a Tier 4 DES visa has just been issued and the holder has not yet completed their studies, they can only work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week in total so they will need to complete a Tier 4 Student Employment Declaration

 

 

Training for Administrators


The team runs regular training courses on Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 5, Visitors and Right to Work

BOOK A PLACE ON A TRAINING SESSION

 

Forms & Guidance 


Download the forms and guidance documents

FIND A FORM 

 

Contact us


Medical Sciences

Angelina Pelova Tel: 01865 289904 Email: angelina.pelova@admin.ox.ac.uk 

 

MPLS

Nina Song Tel: 01865 289926 Email: nina.song@admin.ox.ac.uk

 

Humanities / Social Sciences / GLAM / UAS / Continuing Education / Colleges

James Galloway Tel: 01865 289927 Email: james.galloway@admin.ox.ac.uk

 


 
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