When can I work as a Research Degree student?
Tip: Check your BRP when you receive it to see if you have the correct permission to work. If you have the incorrect conditions contact us before starting to work.
Under the UK immigration rules, you are legally permitted to work with the following restrictions:
- a maximum of 20 hours paid or unpaid work per week during term time for degree students. Please note that if you are initially here on a visa for a Language Centre/Summer School pre-sessional programme, you will only be able to work a maximum of 10 hours until you have obtained your visa for your main degree.
- Full time work is permitted during official vacations - this does not include reading weeks or any time between your last exam and the start of a vacation. Full time is defined by your employer.
- you cannot take a permanent contract unless your have applied for the Skilled Worker visa or your was granted after 6 April 2022 and you have an application in place for a Graduate Route.
These also apply if you are working remotely in the UK for an overseas employer. If you are doing the work in the UK you are bound by the restrictions of your visa.
When is 'vacation time'?
IMPORTANT: READING WEEKS ARE NOT CLASSIFIED AS VACATION AND YOU CANNOT WORK FULL TIME DURING READING WEEK.
I am an MRes/PhD student. Is it different for me?
One year MRes students do not benefit from a summer vacation so you should follow the same guidance as for 12 month MSc students.
If you are on a two year MRes programme, the summer between years one and two are considered as vacation and as such you can work full time under the immigration rules during LSE's official vacation period.
LSE Term Dates
What are the term dates for PhD students?
For all enrolled PhD students, vacations are the Christmas and Easter breaks in each year of enrolment. However, you are considered to be continuing your studies during the summer vacation.
PhD students do not benefit from a summer vacation and are not able to request a vacation during term time. You may be able to request a vacation during the summer, but you must speak to your supervisor and the PhD Academy about this.
Can I request a vacation?
If you are a PhD student, your academic department is able to authorise a single, four week vacation during the summer period. During these four weeks, you will be able to work full time.
Before starting your full time work, you will need to request a letter. You cannot work full time without this letter and it cannot be issued retrospectively. You cannot request this letter yourself, you must follow the process below:
- You will need to speak to your department to request a four week vacation - most students speak to their Programme Manager;
- The member of staff who authorises your vacation must email the PhD Academy providing your full name, LSE ID number, the dates of the vacation period they are willing to authorise. This cannot be in excess of four weeks and there are no exceptions to this rule.
- You cannot request the letter once they have authorised it - they must submit the authorisation
- You cannot start the full-time work until you have this letter
Any full time work completed during the dissertation period without permission is a breach of your visa conditions. As a Student visa sponsor, LSE is legally required as part of our sponsor licence agreement to report any students we are aware have breached the conditions of their visa. A breach of the working conditions could lead to deportation and a ban on future visa applications in the UK as a minimum.
Please note that disruption to studies resulting from a vacation period cannot be used in an appeal against a decision of the Board of Examiners.
What type of work can I do as a Research Degree student?
There are restrictions on the type of work you are able to undertake on a Student visa for a full time programme. These also apply if you are working remotely in the UK for an overseas employer. If you are doing the work in the UK you are bound by the restrictions of your visa.
no self-employment or business activity (including freelance or consultancy work or setting up your own business, even if you are not the controlling shareholder or if the company is not based in the UK). You can usually tell if you are self-employed if you have to invoice the employer to receive payment or you are required to calculate your tax and report this to HMRC.
If you have a formal contract of employment, your taxes will be deducted from your salary under "Pay as You Earn". Do not assume that because you have to submit a self-assessment in your home country, that the system is the same in the UK. If you are self-assessing your tax payments, you are self-employed.
You can find out more about paying taxes in the UK on the UKCISA web pages or in the international student section of the Tax Guide for Students.
no work as a professional sports person (including sports coach)
no work as a professional entertainer
- no permanent, full time work unless you have applied under the Skilled Worker Route or if your Student visa was granted after 6 April 2022 and you have applied for the Graduate Route.
Unlike in some other countries, you are not restricted to only working on campus or in 'student' vacancies. However, you must ensure you are not working in one of the areas which are not permitted on your visa.
UKCISA have produced a helpful blog on working in the UK including gig-economy positions and working remotely for an overseas employer.
The working conditions apply even if you are working remotely in the UK for an overseas employer.
Can I work for more than one employer?
You can have multiple contracts, but during term-time you must not work any more than 20 hours paid or unpaid work each week. This means 20 hours in total rather than 20 hours per employer.
Working for LSE
When working for the School, you must ensure that you do not exceed your permitted number of working hours during term-time. For degree programme students this is 20 hours per week paid or unpaid work (check you have the right working conditions on your visa).
If you are unsure of the conditions of you visa, please check with us before commencing any work at the School.
If you will be working for LSE, Human Resources will complete a right to work check to prevent illegal working for all students working for the School before they are able to start/continue with their contract. You will not be able to begin your role until this is completed, so you should not undertake any work until this point in time.
If you are a student employed by the School and you need to extend your student visa, it is very important that you plan to do this well in advance of the expiry date of your visa. Whilst the conditions of your visa continue once you have an in-time application in progress (submitted before the expiry date of your visa), Human Resources will still need to conduct further checks with the Home Office to verify the status of your application, which will take up to five days to be confirmed.
Human Resources will require a Case ID number to be able to make this check, so applying as soon as you are aware you need to extend your visa e.g. due to an extension of your thesis submission date, will help both you and the School.
PhD students with multiple contracts
PhD students are advised to monitor the number of hours work they undertake, especially if they have a number of jobs with LSE. The official programme end date for PhD students can change depending on whether you needed to extend your visa e.g. for corrections. Check whether you can work full time with our team before taking a position. It is your responsibility to ensure you do not exceed your permitted working hours.
Can I volunteer?
There is a legal distinction between volunteering and paid/unpaid work. To avoid any problems, you should not volunteer any more than 20 hours in any seven day period. If you also have a part-time job you must be careful to work no more than 20 hours between volunteering and paid work. For more information visit the LSE Volunteer Centre.
If your employer asks you to work additional hours beyond your contract but within the same week and says that it is 'volunteering', this is often not the case. It is unpaid work and counts towards your 20 hour limit per week. You should not 'volunteer' to do excess hours without being paid as this is likely to be a breach of your visa conditions as you will be completing unpaid work.
When can I start working full-time at the end of my studies?
You can start working full-time once your official programme end date has passed. Your official programme end date is the date that was provided on your CAS number not the date you submit your dissertation or complete your examinations. You must refer to the official end date given to the UKVI not the date you submit your last assessment or you risk breaking immigration law and losing potential opportunities to remain in the UK in the future.
The Home Office considers the extra two or four months at the end of your visa to be vacation, so you can work full time during this period. However, the same conditions apply unless you are switching into a different immigration route e.g. Startup or Skilled Worker.
Is it different for PhD students?
PhD students who submit as expected can start working full time after their thesis submission date as stated on their CAS has passed (even if they submit early). The exceptions to this are:
Confirmation of further studies for your viva - if your department confirms to the PhD Academy that you are in full time study preparing for your viva and need to extend your Student visa, you will be restricted to working 20 hours per week (paid or unpaid). This means that you will be required to finish any full time position you may hold.
Confirmation of further studies for corrections post viva - if your department confirms to the PhD Academy that you are in full time study completing your corrections post-viva and need to extend your Student visa, you will be restricted to working 20 hours per week (paid or unpaid). This means that you will be required to finish any full time position you may hold.
Any work of more than 20 hours would be a breach of their conditions. If you are unsure if you are affected, contact us for advice.
The Home Office considers the extra four months at the end of your visa to be vacation, so you can work full time during this period. However, the same conditions apply unless you are switching into a different immigration route e.g. Startup or Skilled Worker.
More information can be found on the UKCISA web site.
We cannot provide letters for employers confirming your ability to work full time at the end of your studies.
How can I show an employer that I can work?
Your visa is your main form of evidence that you have the right to work in the UK. Employers wanting to recruit students need to confirm that a student has the right to work in the UK. The Home Office will accept the following as acceptable evidence:
A printout from the LSE website confirming the term dates of the School, although MPhil/1 year MRes and PhD students will need to inform employers they do not benefit from a summer vacation.
A copy of a letter or email addressed to the student confirming term time dates for the student's course - a Certificate of Enrolment will confirm this information for your employer.
A letter addressed to the employer confirming your term dates - the LSE are unable to confirm to an employer a student's right to work in the UK to provide them with a stautory excuse. However, the Certificate of Enrolment includes all the required information for your individual circumstances. Further details can be found in our guidance for employers.
Your employer can also read the Comprehensive Guidance on Preventing Illegal Working on the Home Office Website.
Is it true that LSE is required to report to the UKVI breaches of the working conditions?
If LSE becomes aware of a student breaching the working conditions of their visa, whether this is for LSE or an external employer, we are required to inform the UKVI as part of our sponsor licence agreement. This could lead to your visa being cancelled and a potential ban from the UK. In the worst case, it can also lead to six months imprisonment and a fine of £5000.
Whilst LSE always considers the individual, we have a responsibility to maintain our sponsor licence and protect all students sponsored by the School.
For more information visit the UKCISA website