what happens if i work over 20 hours on a student visa uk

What Happens If I Work Over 20 Hours on a Student Visa in the UK?


When it comes to studying abroad, the United Kingdom is a popular destination for students from all around the world. However, one of the most common concerns for international students is related to their ability to work while studying. Specifically, many students wonder what happens if they work over 20 hours on a student visa in the UK. In this article, we will explore the implications and consequences of exceeding the permitted working hours on a student visa.

Understanding the Student Visa Regulations

Before delving into the consequences of working over 20 hours on a student visa in the UK, let’s first understand the regulations governing student visas. The UK offers various types of student visas, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on the Tier 4 (General) student visa, which is one of the most common visas for international students. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the UK provides a vibrant student community and a wide array of extracurricular activities that can greatly enrich your educational experience while studying in the country

Tier 4 (General) Student Visa

The Tier 4 (General) student visa is designed for international students who wish to pursue higher education in the UK. This visa allows students to study at a British institution and, in some cases, work part-time during their studies. It’s essential to know the specific rules and restrictions associated with this visa to avoid any leg

Work Restrictions on Student Visas

Permitted Working Hours

On a Tier 4 (General) student visa, international students are generally allowed to work part-time during term time and full-time during scheduled breaks. This means you can work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during holidays.

Standard Work Hours

As per the UK Home Office guidelines, students on Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) visas can work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time.

Full-Time Work During Holidays

During official vacation periods, students are allowed to work full-time, which means more than 20 hours per week.

Working for the University

There are exceptions for students working as Student Union Sabbatical Officers or for the institution they are studying at.

Consequences of Working Over 20 Hours

Now, let’s address the central question: What happens if you work more than 20 hours on a student visa in the UK?

Legal Consequences

what happens if I work over 20 hours on a student visa in the UK

Visa Revocation

Working over the allowed hours can have severe consequences. One of the most significant penalties is the potential revocation of your student visa. If the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) discover that you have violated the terms of your visa, they can cancel it.

Deportation Risk

In addition to visa revocation, there is also a risk of deportation. The UKVI can take measures to remove individuals who breach their visa conditions. Deportation can have long-lasting effects on your immigration record and future prospects in the UK.

Impact on Studies

what happens if they work over 20 hours on a student visa in the UK

Academic Consequences

Working excessively can also negatively impact your academic performance. Your primary purpose in the UK should be to study, and if you are working long hours, it might be challenging to keep up with your coursework and assignments.

Legal Employment Options

Legal Alternatives

To avoid these consequences, it’s crucial to explore legal alternatives for employment while on a student visa.

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme

If you are pursuing a Ph.D. or other doctoral-level qualification, you may be eligible for the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme, which allows you to work full-time in the UK for an additional 12 months after your studies.

What to Do if You Exceed 20 Hours


If you realize you’ve inadvertently exceeded the 20-hour limit, it’s best to self-report the situation to your university’s international office.

Seeking Advice

Consulting an immigration advisor can provide clarity on your specific situation and guide you on the appropriate steps to take.


In conclusion, working over 20 hours on a student visa in the UK can have serious repercussions, including visa revocation, deportation, and academic difficulties. It’s essential for international students to adhere to the working hour limits specified in their visa conditions. To avoid legal issues and maintain a successful academic journey, it’s advisable to explore legal employment options and seek guidance from your educational institution or an immigration expert.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I work more than 20 hours if it’s necessary for my financial situation?

No, the UKVI’s regulations do not make exceptions based on financial need. Exceeding the working hour limit is a violation of your student visa terms.

What should I do if I accidentally work over 20 hours?

If you inadvertently work more than the permitted hours, it’s essential to rectify the situation immediately. Consult with your institution’s international student office for guidance.

Are there any exceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The UK government introduced temporary concessions during the pandemic, allowing international students to work more than 20 hours if they were employed in critical sectors. Check the latest updates for any changes to these rules.

Can I switch to a work visa after completing my studies?

Yes, after completing your studies, you can explore various work visa options, such as the Tier 2 (General) visa, to continue working in the UK legally.

Where can I find more information about UK student visa regulations?

You can visit the official UK government website or consult with your educational institution’s international student services for detailed information and guidance regarding student visas.

Remember, staying informed and abiding by the rules is crucial to a successful and trouble-free experience as an international student in the UK.