Working during & after your studies

Working in the UK


You should always check what your visa says regarding permission to work. You should also have received detailed information in a letter when you received your visa. The following section entitled 'Tier 4' contains visa specific information on working during your studies whilst on a Tier 4 visa. The other sections contain visa specific information on working after your studies on different types of visas.

As a student on a Tier 4 student visa studying at Bedfordshire at NQF level 6 and above (Bachelor's degree or higher), you may work up to 20 hours per week during term time.

If your course is at NQF level 3-5 (such as on an International Foundation Course or Pre-sessional English programme), you may work up to 10 hours per week during term time.

Whatever your level of study, you may work unlimited hours during official University holiday periods, after you have been awarded your degree, and when you have completed your studies and are awaiting your results.

It is particularly important to be aware of two things in this regard:

  • If you are undertaking retakes or referrals, or are writing up your dissertation, you must not work more than 20 hours per week. These periods are not holiday periods. For confirmation of your holiday dates, please speak to SID who can issue you with a letter for your employer, if necessary.
  • Working more hours than you are permitted will result in you being reported to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as breaching the conditions of your leave to remain and in you having your visa sponsorship withdrawn by the University. This will negatively affect your immigration record, which will affect any future visa applications you submit to the UKVI as well as your University registration.

You should also note the following:

  • You can do voluntary work if you are permitted to work but this work and any other (e.g. paid work) that you do must not exceed the number of hours you are allowed to work during term time. For example, if you can work for 20 hours during term time and have paid work of 12 hours a week during term time, you cannot do more than 8 hours voluntary work per week. If you are not permitted to work you cannot do voluntary work.
  • You cannot be self-employed.
  • You can only work 20 hour per week maximum during term-time. You cannot work, for example, 25 hours one week but only 10 the next. It may average out at less than 20 hours per week but this is not permissible, it is not an average figure.

For more information, please see:

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa is a scheme to allow recent graduates from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland with genuine and credible business ideas and entrepreneurial skills to establish their own business in the UK. You can stay in the UK for one year on a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa with the opportunity to apply to extend this visa for one more year.

The idea must be endorsed by either:

  • A UK higher education institution (HEI) if it is an authorised endorsing body or
  • UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) as part of the Elite Global Graduate Entrepreneur programme (Sirius)

The University of Bedfordshire is not an authorised endorsing body but it is possible to be endorsed by an institution other than the one at which you have studied.

For more detailed information, please see:

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland and you want to set up or run a business in the UK. You must meet the eligibility requirements, which includes having access to at least £50,000 investment funds. You can come to the UK with a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months with the possibility to apply to extend your visa.

For more detailed information on this scheme, including full eligibility requirements, please see:

A Tier 2 (General) visa allows an individual from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland to work in the UK. Your employer must have a Tier 2 sponsor licence and be willing to sponsor you under Tier 2 of the Points Based System. Your job must have a particular skills level and there is a minimum wage level. You will also have to prove that you have the required level of English, which you meet if you have a UK degree. You may have to show an amount in savings.

You cannot stay in the UK for more than six years under Tier 2 of the Points Based System. You can switch to a Tier 2 visa from a Tier 4 visa within the UK before your Tier 4 visa expires. If you switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 visa, the maximum amount of time you can stay in the UK under Tier 2 is five years. You may study whilst you are on a Tier 2 visa as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job you’re sponsored for. Your main purpose for being in the UK must be to work and not study. If you wish to study at the University of Bedfordshire on a Tier 2 visa, we would assess your situation very carefully and advise you accordingly.

For more information, please see:

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)

The scheme is available to nationals of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Taiwan and to British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Nationals (Overseas). If you are from Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea or Taiwan, you need to be sponsored.

If you meet the above criteria, you can apply for a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa if you want to live and work for up to 2 years, are aged 18 to 30 and have £1,890 in savings. You can’t apply if you have already been in the UK under the scheme or in the former ‘working holidaymaker’ category. You cannot switch into this immigration category from within the UK and places may be limited in number.

For more information and full eligibility criteria, please see:

A Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) allows individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to stay in the UK for up to 12 or 24 months (depending on the scheme they are applying for). You may have to show an amount in savings and, in most cases, you cannot switch into this immigration category from within the UK. You must have a sponsor and a valid Certificate of Sponsorship before applying. Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) has five sub-categories:

  • Creative and sporting - for people coming to the United Kingdom to work or perform as sports people, entertainers or creative artists for up to 12 months.
  • Charity workers – for people coming to the United Kingdom to do voluntary work and not paid work for a charity.
  • Religious workers – for people coming to the United Kingdom to work as religious workers.
  • Government authorised exchange – for people coming to the United Kingdom through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice.
  • International agreement – for people coming to the United Kingdom under contract to provide a service that is covered under international law.

For more information and full eligibility criteria, please see:

This is designed to give students who have almost finished their UK PhD or other doctorate qualification an additional 12 months of Tier 4 (General) immigration permission in which to look for and start work in the UK. You can only apply in the UK under this scheme. If you wish to apply for this, you will need further sponsorship under the Tier 4 Points-based System.

To qualify for the Doctorate Extension Scheme you must:
  • be on a Tier 4 visa (General) or Student visa to study a course that leads to the award of a PhD qualification; and
  • be studying with a Tier 4 sponsor that is a UK HEI; and
  • not yet have completed your course; and
  • have a CAS from your Tier 4 sponsor confirming that they expect you to complete your course on the stated expected course end date and that they will sponsor you during the 12 months you are on the scheme; and
  • meet the maintenance requirements (£2030 currently); and
  • be applying up to 60 days before the expected course end date specified on your new CAS.

PhD students who have completed their viva and have no corrections to make must apply for the visa before they receive confirmation of award in writing. You will need to check with the Research Graduate School for your expected official award date.

You do not need an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate to cover your time on the Doctorate Extension Scheme after you have finished your course.

Conditions of stay in the UK under Tier 4 (DES)

Whilst sponsored by the University of Bedfordshire under the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme:

  • You may take any kind of work except for as a Doctor or Dentist in training or a sportsperson (including coaches). It does not need to be connected to your research area.
  • You will need to keep in touch with the University. The International Office will agree with you the exact contact requirements before they issue you the CAS. You will be required to sign and confirm that you will adhere to these requirements before the CAS is issued.
  • You may start working full time from the date your award is confirmed whilst you await a decision from Home Office concerning your application, as long as you have submitted your Tier 4 (DES) application before you complete your studies.
  • If you do not successfully complete your PhD after you have applied, the University will withdraw sponsorship of you under Tier 4 (DES) and your leave will be curtailed.

How to apply for your CAS

  • You will need to request a Tier 4 CAS letter and submit your RS9 (document received from the Research Graduate School after your viva) and a copy of your current valid Tier 4 visa to the Visa and Immigration Advisory Team in the International Office, informing them in person that you wish to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
  • The International Office will then prepare an agreement for you, between yourself and the University. They will then contact you and request you to come to consider and, if you are content, sign the agreement, confirming the conditions under which the CAS is being issued. At this point they will also inform you of the earliest date when the CAS can be issued.
  • Before the CAS is issued, you will also need to show the International Office bank statements proving that you have maintained £2,030 consistently for 28 days before you make the application.
  • Once you are issued a CAS letter, you will need to complete a Tier 4 application form online. The Visa and Immigration Advisory Team in the International Office will provide further guidance to assist you through this process.

For more information, please see:

If you think you are eligible for the Tier 4 DES visa you must come and discuss this with a visa advisor in International Office immediately. This is because immigration rules can change quite frequently and every students circumstances are different. The University bears no responsibility for students who do not take a proactive step in approaching the visa advisors to discuss their visa options in advance.