This article will explain the working restrictions, how many hours International/EU/EEA/Swiss Students can work per week and where to get further advice and guidance.

Tier 4 Student Visa

If you are on a Tier 4 student visa, you can work up to 20 hours a week during term-time and you must adhere to University of Portsmouth term dates as stated here.

To find out more about the Tier 4 policy, visit here:  Tier 4 (General) student visa.

Your working restrictions for vacations will depend on the level of the course that you are studying: Undergraduate, Taught Postgraduate or Research Postgraduate.  The table provides a summary of the restrictions for International Tier 4 students:


Teaching blocks (term-time)

Christmas/Easter vacation

Summer vacation


(foundation degree or degree)

20 hours per week



Taught Postgraduate

(includes most MA, MSc students)

20 hours per week until course completion has been confirmed by Faculty Registrar and Department of Student and Academic Administration.

Research Postgraduate (includes PhD, MPhil, MLitt students)

20 hours per week.

Restricted - except within recognised Annual Leave periods**


NB: During the summer vacation Masters Students can only work full time once they have completed their studies, marks have been finalised, and a confirmation letter has been obtained from the department.

**Prior written authorisation must be obtained from their Supervisor and emailed to HR UKVI Compliance and UKVI Student Compliance so this can be recorded on Student Records.  Annual leave for PGRs is a maximum of 8 weeks within the year; this includes bank holidays and UoP Christmas closure.

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)

The UKCISA website has a range of information for international students on a Tier 4 student visa looking for part-time or voluntary work.

Can I work more than 20 hours a week during the term?

No, any work that is undertaken over 20 hours a week during term time will be classed as illegal working.

To learn about Protecting your Tier 4 Student Status and working during your studies here in the UK, visit UKCISA webpage.

What does the 20 hours a week include?

The 20 hour a week includes all employment (whether at the University or elsewhere) and any voluntary work. For example, if you can work for 20 hours during term-time and have paid work for 15 hours a week you cannot do more than five hours voluntary work per week. 

The opportunities advertised through the Careers and Employability Service’s Volunteering Bank are voluntary work and are included in the 20 hour weekly total.

UKCISA have detailed the types of work that you can undertake and the differences between volunteering and voluntary work here in this UKCISA article: A working definition.

Can this be an average of 20 hours per week?

No, according to the Immigration Rules, the working week is defined as Monday – Sunday and all hours worked in each week must be 20 hours or less.

Your working restrictions are not an average per week, but a maximum per week. HM Revenue & Customs record your pay, tax and national insurance, and that data is sent to the Immigration departments within the Home Office every month.

It is possible for the Home Office to identify Tier 4 students who are working in excess of 20 hours per week, which is why you must make sure you do not work in breach of your visa restrictions.

What happens if I work more than 20 hours during my term time?

If you work more than the working restrictions of 20 hours during term time, this will be classed as illegal working.

When your employer has offered you a job, they are required to undertake a Right to Work check to see if you have the legal right to work in the UK and what work restrictions you may have.

For more information on what would happen if you work more than 20 hours a week, visit Protecting your Tier 4 Student Status on UKCISA webpage.

EU/EEA/Swiss Students

If you are a student from a country in European Economic Area (EEA), you are able to work in the UK without restrictions. EEA countries:  Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Short Term Study Visa

You cannot do any work if you are on a Short Term Study Visa or on a Standard Visitor Visa.

Further guidance

For further advice and support please contact the university’s Careers and Employability Service or the International Office.


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