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UK student visa & working hours

Many overseas students think that they can boost their finances by working whilst they are studying. Although the extra income from part-time jobs in semester-time and temporary jobs in the vacation is always welcome, it might be illegal for you to take employment whilst you are a student.

As an overseas student, you must realise that in the current economic climate in the UK, part-time jobs in semester-time and temporary jobs in the vacation are very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. Remember, if you do manage to find a part-time job during term-time, the extra work might put a strain on your academic work (especially on those essays or projects that you have to give in on time) and, of course, on your social life.

Employment Prohibition

It will rarely be practicable for you to increase your income significantly by working while you are at university. Indeed, in some cases it may even be illegal for you to take employment, although periods of training as part of your course, are usually allowed.

If there is a "prohibition on taking employment" stamp in your passport, then you will not be allowed to work. The entry in your passport will read:

"Leave to enter the UK, on condition that the holder maintains and accommodates himself and any dependants without recourse to public funds, does not enter employment paid or unpaid and does not engage in any business or profession, is hereby given for / until …."

This can only be changed by application to the Home Office. If your wife arrived in the UK with you, this prohibition will almost invariably extend to her. In all cases, the conditions of entry to the UK shown on your passport should be checked before you seek employment.

Employment Restrictions

It is more likely, however, for you to have a "restriction on taking employment" stamp entered in your passport. The entry in your passport will read:

"Leave to enter the UK, on condition that the holder maintains and accommodates himself and any dependants without recourse to public funds, does not enter or change employment paid or unpaid without the consent of the Secretary of State for Employment, and does not engage in any business or profession without the consent of the Secretary of State for the Home Department is hereby given for / until …"

In this case, you may apply for part-time work (in excess of six hours per week on Form) OSS1 "Application to Employ an Overseas Student" obtainable from your local Job Centre. Part 1 should be completed by you, the student; Part 2 should be completed by your Employer; and Part 3 should be completed by your Department and signed by the Head of Department. (In the case of demonstrating work, the Head of Department can sign both Parts 2 and 3). The completed OSS1 Form, your passport and Police Certificate of Registration (if you are required to have one) must be returned to the Job Centre.

Demonstrating or Teaching

You are allowed to accept part-time demonstrating or teaching duties without reference to the Home Office, Overseas Labour Section of the Employment Department or the Employment Service, providing an assurance can be given that the demonstrating or teaching requires special skills. The time you spend on these duties should not exceed six hours per week and you must understand that such services give no claim for you to remain in the UK on completion of your studies.

It is important to note, however, that if you with to accept any other offer of employment, you must apply for a work permit from the Employment Service before starting work. Permission is therefore needed from the Job Centre for other types of work and for demonstrating or teaching work (with special skills) in excess of six hours per week.

If you wish to undertake different paid employment in the vacation, another application must be made along the same lines as described above and again, it must be made prior to starting employment.

Income Tax

You should make sure that you do not earn more than your current personal tax allowance, otherwise you will have to pay tax or some of your earnings. You should ask your employer for a Form P38(S) and sign it to certify that your total taxable income for the financial year will not exceed your personal allowance. You will then find that tax has not been automatically deducted from your pay. If you have a part-time job during semester-time, you will also need to sign a Form P46.

National Insurance

If you work in the UK, you will have to pay National Insurance (NI) contributions in the same way as UK residents. It is your responsibility to apply for an NI number before you take up employment. You should apply for this to your local Department of Social Security Office - the address of this Office depends on where you live and may be obtained from a local Business Telephone directory under "Benefits Agency". You will need to present your passport and give details of your proposed employment. You may have to wait up to ten weeks before you are allocated an NI number, but you may start work at any time after you have applied for one.

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