Working in the UK

 Image of the University main buildingBelow is some information on employment regulations for international students including links to the current UKVI guidance on each category.  As immigration rules change regularly please ensure you check the current UKVI guidance before submitting an application.

Please also remember to check your individual permissions before undertaking any employment.

Further help:

Working in the UK during study

Non EEA Nationals 

If you are from a non-EEA country, you will probably find one of the following restrictions stamped or noted in your passport or ID card:

  • "Work (and any changes) must be authorised", or
  • "Able to work as authorised by the Secretary of State", or
  • "Student Leave to Remain. Restricted Work" - P/T Term Time, F/T Vacations or work 20 hours max in term time.

If you have one of these conditions on your visa, you can work in the UK up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during vacation periods. The 20 hour per week maximum during term time is not flexible and cannot be exceeded in any given week.

If you are studying a course below degree level, you will only be allowed to work 10 hours per week during term time.

Postgraduate Masters students are considered to be studying full-time during the months spent in the summer completing a dissertation and, as such, are not permitted to work more than 20 hours per week during this time.

If you have the following prohibition endorsed in your passport, "No work or recourse to public funds", then you cannot work in the UK.  If you are coming to the UK as a Student Visitor, you will have this stamp which means that you cannot work.  Please remember that working whilst you have a prohibition stamped in your passport is illegal.

Other EEA nationals and Swiss nationals

EEA or Swiss nationals (excluding Croatian nationals) are allowed to take employment without requiring a work permit.


For information on jobs, check out:


During your studies you may wish to spend time volunteering. The Student Representative Council provides a Student Volunteer Support Service which you can contact to find out about opportunities. There is a difference between unpaid employment (voluntary work) and volunteering, and you should always check with the organisation which offers you a volunteering opportunity whether it can be regarded as unpaid employment. This is because time you spend doing unpaid employment counts towards your maximum number of hours of work a week. Please check the conditions of your visa carefully (see above) before undertaking a voluntary position.

Working in the UK after study

Tier 2 (General)

The Tier 2 (General) visa category is for those who have been offered a graduate level job with an employer who is registered with UKVI as a Tier 2 sponsor.

The UKVI Register of Sponsors contains details on which employers are registered under Tier 2. There are salary requirements (please see the UKVI website for more information) and you must have received a Certificate of Sponsorship from a registered employer in order to apply. There are further requirements to be met, including English language and maintenance requirements.

If you have a Student or Tier 4 visa and intend to apply to switch to the Tier 2 (General) category from within the UK, you might find the link to the UKCISA website below a useful resource to obtain information specific to Tier 4 students intending to apply under the Tier 2 (General) category.

Please note, International Student Support do not provide an application checking service for Tier 2 applications but can signpost and provide general information. 

Find out more:

Doctorate Extension Scheme (Tier 4 DES visa)

The Doctorate Extension Scheme, under the Tier 4 immigration category, allows for students who are completing their PhD (or eligible doctorate level qualification) to apply to stay in the UK for a further 12 months beyond the end of their course to find skilled work or to gain further experience in their chosen field.

Please note: If you are applying for the Tier 4 DES visa route, you must do so on or before your Tier 4 visa expiry date.  While there is currently a concession for visa holders who cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions to extend to their Tier 4 visa until 31st May, this would not be appropriate to apply to if you wish to apply for the Tier 4 DES visa route.  


You are only eligible to apply under this Scheme if you meet the requirements below:

  • You must, on the date of application, have a valid Tier 4 (General) student visa which allows you to study on your PhD course (the course must be a PhD qualification or one of the doctorate qualifications listed in Annex 4 of the current Tier 4 Policy Guidance); and
  • You must be studying at University of Glasgow (as University of Glasgow is a Tier 4 sponsor that is a UK HEI); and
  • You must not, on the date of application, have completed your course yet (you must not have received your letter of award); and
  • You must be applying from within the UK; and
  • You must have a Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS from University of Glasgow 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
  • You must be applying no more than 60 days before the expected course end date specified on your new Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS from University of Glasgow; AND
  • You must apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme visa before the course end date on your Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS and before your Tier 4 visa expiry date (whichever falls soonest).

When do I apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme visa?

  • On or before your Tier 4 visa expiry date, and
  • Within the 60 days before the expected course end date on your DES CAS, and
  • Before you receive your PhD / doctorate level award 

How do I get a Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS?

You can request a DES CAS from your Graduate School Office once you have sat your Viva and know the length of your corrections - this would be created and e-mailed to you by the PGR Admissions Team.  The DES CAS can only be issued with the 60 days before your expected course end date. The expected course end date for your DES CAS may be different to that stated on the Tier 4 CAS issued to you for the PhD or doctorate level course you are studying.

Please contact us at ISS if your Graduate School Office advise that they cannot offer you a DES CAS at this time due to the length of your corrections, as you may need to apply to extend your Tier 4 visa first in some cases.

ATAS clearance:

The Tier 4 Policy Guidance (latest version, last updated October 2019) states the following:

You do not need to hold or apply for an Academic Technology Approval Certificate (ATAS) to cover your time spent on the Doctorate Extension Scheme. If, however, you are currently studying a course (or period of research) that requires an ATAS Clearance Certificate, and your course end date given on the CAS is postponed for a period of more than 3 calendar months, you must apply within 28 days of being notified of the change in course for a new ATAS Clearance Certificate to cover the rest of your time on that course.

How to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme under Tier 4:

If you meet all of the eligibility requirements above and have all of the supporting documents required under the Scheme, you must apply using the Tier 4 (General) Student visa application. 

You will also need to have held the required funds as discussed in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance - the amount of maintenance required for a Tier 4 DES visa application is lower than that usually required for a Tier 4 (General) visa application.  See the "Money for living costs" heading in the "Contents" page of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance then the information specific to Doctorate Extension Scheme applicants.

When can I work on my Doctorate Extension Scheme visa?

The Tier 4 DES visa will be granted for 12 months from the expected course end date stated on your DES CAS.  You can start working under the Tier 4 DES visa conditions on the date UKVI receive a report from the University that you have successfully completed your PhD / doctorate level studies and have received your award. 

The Tier DES visa conditions for working in the UK are discussed in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance (under the "Doctorate Extension Scheme" heading shown on the "Contents" page).  

The UKVI have announced in their UK Points Based Immigration System document that the DES scheme is expected to close once the new Graduate route opens as part of the new UK immigrsation system that will be introduced in 2021:

95. The current Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), open to international students who have completed a PhD in the UK and allowing them to remain and work here for 12 months after completing their studies, will be closed at the point the new Graduate Route is introduced. The Graduate route significantly improves on the offer of the DES, providing an additional two years and a more streamlined pathway for those who have completed their PhD than the current route.

Find out more:

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa 

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category is now closed and has been replaced by a new visa  category called the ‘Start-up’ visa.  Please see further down for information on the new Start-Up visa. 

If you currently hold a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa and have not yet applied for the 2nd year of staying in the UK under Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur leave, you will switch into the Start-Up visa category for your 2nd year instead.  

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa closed on 29 March 2019 to new applicants and has been replaced by the "Innovator" visa, however UKVI have confirmed that holders of a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa can still apply to switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route so long as they do so on or before their Graduate Entrepreneur visa expires.  It is also possible for Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa holders who have switched into the Start-Up visa route for their 2nd year to apply for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa.

Find out more:


Start-Up visa:

It is important to contact the Enterprise Manager to indicate your interest in the Start-Up Visa in good time before your visa is due to expire.  If you wish to be considered for the September 2020 panel meetings, you must have discussed your business idea with Marion Anderson (Enterprise Manager) before 24th July 2020.  It is a prerequisite of being considered for panel that you attend at the Summer Workshop Programme which covers all aspect of business start-up.

University of Glasgow offer business development support and endorsements for the Start-Up visa route to our current students and graduates. The Start-Up visa route is for prospective business founders who wish to start up a business in the UK for the first time. Your business plan must meet the following criteria:




A genuine business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.


Applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.

Evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

What do I need to do first?: You will need to discuss your business proposal and make an initial appointment with the University’s Enterprise Manager Marion Anderson (co-winner with Dickon Copsey of the enactus University Adviser Award for 2019) - to arrange an appointment please email .

You will work closely with Student Enterprise to develop the proposal and formulate a business plan. This will then be assessed and considered by an experienced panel before to determine whether a Start-Up endorsement will be offered by University of Glasgow. You would use the endorsement to apply for a Start-Up visa. 

Once the Start-Up visa has been granted, you must agree to a monitoring programme which is designed to help you develop and grow the business. 

You can contact International Student Support for information and advice on preparing the make the Start-Up visa application by e-mailing us or booking an appointment from your My Glasgow homepage. 

You can also book an appointment with an International Student Support Adviser to have your application form and documents checked before you submit your online Start-Up visa application form.   

How long will the Start-Up visa be for?: You can expect to be granted the following length of time on your Start-Up visa depending on whether you are changing into the Start-Up visa category from a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa:

Type of applicant:

Length of Start Up visa:

Future potential visa options:

Application to switch into Start-Up visa or apply from outside the UK (current visa is not Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur)



2 years



Start Up visa holders will be expected to switch into the main Innovator route after 2 years if you wish to continue developing your businesses in the UK.

Application to switch into Start-Up visa from a 1st year Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa*

 *If your Tier 1 GE visa is endorsed by UoG and the Start-Up visa is also endorsed by UoG your business ideas will not need to meet new Start-up criteria for “innovation” and “scalability”. 



1 year

When should I apply for the Start-Up visa?  

  •       After current course has ended
  •       Within 3 months of the date on the endorsement letter
  •       On or before current visa expiry date (if applying inside UK)
  •       Within the 3 months before the date you will travel (if applying outside the UK)

If you are changing into the Start-Up visa category towards the end of your 1st year on a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa you must obtain a Start-Up endorsement letter and apply:

  • Before your Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa expiry date (if applying inside the UK)
  • Within 3 months of the date on the endorsement letter
  • Within the 3 months before the date you will travel (if applying outside the UK)

 Find out more:


Other categories

For information on other immigration categories that may be of interest to students at the end of their studies, you may wish to refer to the UKCISA website.


National Insurance numbers

National Insurance (NI) Numbers

A National Insurance (NI) number is a personal number which is used to record your National Insurance contributions and tax that you pay. You should apply for a National Insurance number when you have started work or if you have the offer of a job.

To apply, you should contact the National Insurance number application line. You may then be sent a postal application or be required to attend an 'evidence of identity' interview. There is no charge to apply for/obtain a National Insurance number.