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Human Resources

Employing Students on Visas

The main intention of the Tier 4 (General) / Student visa is to allow International students to study in the UK on a full time basis.  This visa also permits individuals studying at Queen Mary to work in the UK, subject to certain restrictions.  Students will be able to work either 10 or 20 hours per week during term time. Their BRP will note their limit.

The Home Office defines a week as “a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday” and does not differentiate between paid and unpaid work.

Outside of term time working hours are not restricted, however postgraduate degrees do not benefit from having the same vacation periods as undergraduate degrees. The below table explains the maximum permissible hours that students can undertake each week depending on their level of study:

Type of student 

Teaching blocks

Christmas/Easter vacation

Summer vacations

(foundation degree or degree)

Legally 20 hours per week



Taught Postgraduate
(includes taught MA/MSc)

Legally 20 hours per week


Legally 20 hours per week

Research Postgraduate (includes research MA/MSc, MLitt, MPhil, PhD)

Legally 20 hours per week

Legally 20 hours per week

Legally 20 hours per week

International Foundation
Programme or pre-sessional course

Legally 10 hours per week



Further information on the structure of the academic year is available here

Before Employment Commences – Right to Work Checks

Before you employ a student on a Tier 4 or Student visa, you must make sure that you understand any visa restrictions the student may have, and confirm that dates of the planned employment do not exceed the end date of the student visa. 

You must take a copy of the documents confirming their right to work in the UK in the presence of the student.  This copy should state the following: “The date on which this right to work check was made was [insert date]”.  All checks must be dated and contain the name of the person checking the document. 

For each student we require the following documents:

It is essential that you also check the number of hours a student is allowed to work while you undertake the right to work check. 

Monitoring of Student Hours

It is essential that Queen Mary monitors the hours worked by all Tier 4 and Student visa holders.  There are serious consequences for employing a student beyond their visa restrictions. Queen Mary is obligated to report any breach to UK Visas & Immigration, including overworking or engaging in types of work that are not allowed.

Students are also responsible for recording their weekly hours and ensuring they are keeping to the conditions of their stay.

If you wish to employ a student, you should speak with your local HR contact prior to their employment.  HR will issue contracts of employment for anyone holding a Tier 4 or Student visa.

You must ensure that the hours a student works each week do not exceed the permitted maximum. Before a student commences any work for you at Queen Mary, you will need to confirm that they are eligible to work that week.  HR maintain a record of the hours of all of the Tier 4 and Student visa holders employed by the University.  If you wish to employ a specific student, you need to email to request permission for the intended hours. 

They will only be allowed to work those hours if they do not have any other work that week.

Further Information

More information regarding International Students can be found on the Academic Registry and Council Secretariat and the Advice and Counselling Service webpages.

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