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 conditions UK Visas and Immigration have imposed on you about employment. You will either have a restriction or a prohibition.

Student work restriction

Specimen Residence Permit - Able to work


If you have a Tier 4 student visa your 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 holidays without having to seek any individual permission. There are restrictions on the type of work you can do:  you cannot be self-employed, work freelance or run a business; you cannot be a professional sports person or entertainer. 

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 telephone 0345 600 0643 between 8.30 am - 6 pm Monday - Friday. You will have to go for an interview and must take certain documents with you (usually your passport, evidence of looking for work or your job offer letter). At the end of the appointment, you should ask for a letter confirming you have applied for a NI number, so that you can show it to your employer if requested. As long as you have applied, you can start work before your NI number has been issued.

Income Tax

International students who work in the UK will automatically be subject to the same taxation rules that apply to UK citizens. You can earn up to £11,000 in the 2016/2017 tax year before having to pay tax. For more information on income tax, visit the Inland Revenue’s website.


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'

Specimen Residence Permit - Not able to work


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

If you have Tier 4 visa but have a prohibition and would like to work, please come and see the Student Advisor (Immigration and Finance) for advice about whether you can apply to have your endorsement changed.