Visa information for international students

Please note that LSE Careers are unable to advise you on visa issues. Contact ISVAT if you have any specific questions or concerns.



Jo Ghobar

Student Enquiries Coordinator

This guidance is based on frequently asked questions. It is not intended to be used on its own and you should always refer to the guidance on working during and after your studies on the International Student Visa Advice Team (ISVAT) web pages. For more information please contact ISVAT.

Please note that ISVAT are only able to advise you on your immigration options whilst:

  • you hold a valid Tier 4 visa for LSE
  • you are sponsored under Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension Scheme) by LSE
  • you are sponsored under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

Working while studying

If you are studying a full-time degree programme at LSE, you are able to work a maximum of 20 hours paid or unpaid work per week during term-time.

You can find details of the term dates on the LSE website. The LSE recommends that due to the academic requirements of your programmes you do not plan to work more than 15 hours per week during term-time.

Your Tier 4 visa only provides you with the right to work in the UK. If you have been offered employment in another country, you must ensure that you obtain the correct immigration permission that permits you to work there. Your employers will be able to advise you which visa you should obtain.

If you begin working in the UK you will need a National Insurance. You can find more information on National Insurance and tax on the UKCISA website.

You will need to register for your programme before you are able to start work in the UK. Your employer will need to check that you are a registered student. Until you have collected your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and registered for your studies at LSE, it may not be possible to work in the UK.

Please note, unless you hold a Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension Scheme) visa, you are not permitted to be self-employed on a Tier 4 visa. You should be very careful if you are offered freelance or consulting work that you are not self-employed as this is breaking the immigration rules.

The LSE will only sponsor students under Tier 4 who have genuine studies to undertake. We will not be able to extend your visa so that you are able to continue looking for employment in the UK.

12-month master's students

During the summer, 12 month master's students are still academically engaged with writing their dissertation and so this does not count as a summer vacation. Further details of vacation times can be found on the ISVAT working during your studies web page.

PhD students

Students studying for a PhD at LSE with Tier 4 (General) visas are eligible to apply for permission to work for 12 months at the end of their studies with the Doctorate Extension Scheme. You can find more information on the ISVAT website.

If you have any further queries about working during your studies, there is more detailed information on the ISVAT website.


Working after your studies

If you want to stay in the UK once you have completed your course there are a number of working routes available, but many require you to find a sponsor to employ you at the end of your studies. LSE students have found employment under the Tier 2 and Tier 5 routes.

Tier 2 Visas

The ISVAT team at LSE are able to advise what you need in order to switch to a Tier 2 from a Tier 4 visa. However you should ask your employer for assistance in completing your application for Tier 2. As a Tier 2 sponsor, they will need to know the requirements of the application. ISIS are unable to advise on the process of applying for a Tier 2 sponsor licence or the length of time it takes so your prospective employer may wish to seek legal advice. Specialists can be found on the ILPA or OISC webpages.

You can also find a list of Tier 2 sponsor licence holders on the website. Unfortunately, even if an employer holds a sponsor licence, it is not guaranteed that they will be able to sponsor you. There are many reasons for this, but it is at the employer’s discretion.

If you haven’t already been awarded a UK degree, you will be unable to apply for your Tier 2 visa in the UK until you have completed and been awarded your degree. You can apply once your award has been confirmed in writing by the Registry. You do not need to wait until after your graduation ceremony.

Some employers may be willing to sponsor you to apply from outside the UK. In this case you do not need to have been awarded a UK degree to apply.

Please note that you are unable to take a permanent position until you have submitted your Tier 2 (General) application. If you have been offered a permanent position and know that you will be sponsored, you will need to negotiate with your employer to hire you on a temporary basis until you can apply for Tier 2.

LSE-sponsored visas

Graduate Entrepreneurs

LSE has been able to sponsor students through the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme. Successful candidates are chosen through the Generate at LSE Careers competitions. If you are from another institution and you are working with LSE students on a business plan, it may be possible for the LSE to sponsor you. Unfortunately, the scheme is very popular and it is unlikely that we are unable to sponsor individuals who are not working with LSE students.

Doctoral Extensions

LSE can also sponsor students through the Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension Scheme). PhD students can find out more about the scheme on the ISVAT working after your studies web page.

Other options

The Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) routes are options which do not require you to have a sponsor. However these are not open to all nationalities. For more information, go to the website.

If you have not found a sponsor, then you can only stay in the UK for a limited time after completing your course. You are only permitted to work until the expiry date of your visa. Once the expiry date of your visa has passed, you become an “overstayer” and you lose the right to work. Overstaying is a breach of the immigration rules.

You may hear people talking about a 28 day “grace” period. This only applied to the number of days in which you can submit a visa application in the UK after your visa has expired. Once you are an overstayer, you will need to declare the number of days you overstayed on future immigration applications to the UK.

You can find more detailed information for working after your studies on the ISVAT website.


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