SOAS University of London

International Students

Working during your studies

If you are thinking of looking for part-time work while you are studying in the UK, you need to check your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or visa vignette (in your passport) first to see what work conditions UK Visas and Immigration have endorsed your visa with. If you are an EU national who has an electronic visa please check the email you received from UK Visas and Immigration when your visa was granted. You will either have a work restriction or prohibition.

Student work restriction

If you are studying on a full-time degree level programme  and  have a Student visa your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) should state '20 hours max in term time' or similar. With this endorsement, you can work up to 20 hours per week in term-time and full time in the vacation periods without having to seek any individual permission. SOAS term dates can be found here.

There are restrictions on the type of work you can do: you cannot be self-employed, work freelance or run a business and you cannot be a professional sports person or entertainer. You can also not be medical doctor or dentist in training.

A 'week' has been defined in the Immigration Rules as "a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday". It is essential that you work no more than 20 hours in any seven-day period starting on a Monday. If you work irregular hours and / or have more than one employer, you will need to keep accurate records of how many hours you work each day to ensure you are not in breach of your work conditions.

During holidays

You can work full-time during the University holidays periods that applies to your programme of study. If you are an undergraduate, your vacations will be the standard Christmas, Easter and summer vacations that apply to your programme. If you are studying on a one year taught postgraduate programme your vacations will usually be just at Christmas and Easter. The summer is not a vacation period as during this time you are enrolled on your dissertation and you can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week until the official end date of your programme.

Postgraduate research students

SOAS research degrees are continuous programmes with enrolment running from the first day of the academic session until the day preceding the first day of the next academic session, so September to September each year. You can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week for the duration of your programme.

Please see this UKCISA webpage for further information about working during your studies.

If you have a Student visa your BRP should state '20 hours max in term time' or similar. If you are an EU national who has an electronic visa please check the email you received from UK Visas and Immigration when your visa was granted.

National Insurance Number

International Students wishing to work must apply for a National Insurance number, which will enter you into the UK tax system. You can apply when you are looking for work or have found a job. To apply for a NI number, you should take a look at the Gov.UK National Insurance number website

Income Tax

International students who work in the UK will automatically be subject to the same taxation rules that apply to UK citizens. For more information on income tax, visit this Gov.UK webpage.


If the vignette in your passport contains the following wording then you have a prohibition on working in the UK:

'No work or recourse to public funds'

'No recourse to public funds. No work or engaging in business'

The equivalent prohibition on a BRP simply says 'NO WORK'.

If you entered the UK using the Standard visitor visa you are prohibited from working. For more information about the Standard Visitor visa please see this SOAS webpage.

If you have Student visa but have a prohibition and would like to work, please contact the Student Advisors (Immigration and Finance) for advice about whether you can apply to have your endorsement changed by emailing