Visas and immigration

Frequently asked questions for UK immigration

2. I am currently a St Andrews student on a Tier-4 visa. Can I work in the UK now (i.e. until I graduate)?

2.1 You are allowed to:

  • do part-time work during term time (see below);
  • do full-time work during vacations;
  • do a work placement as part of your course;
  • work as a postgraduate doctor on a recognised Foundation Programme or a dentist on a Foundation Programme in certain circumstances; and
  • work as a student union sabbatical officer for up to 2 years.

For more information about work placements, see the Your course of study page.

2.2 The work you do must not fill a full-time permanent vacancy (other than a recognised Foundation Programme), and you must not be self-employed, employed as a doctor in training (except on a recognised Foundation Programme) or as a professional sportsperson, coach or entertainer.

2.3 The maximum amount of part-time work you can do during term time is:

  • If you are on a course at or above NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9 at a UK higher education institution, or a short-term study abroad degree programme at an overseas higher education institution, and applied for your visa on or after July 4, 2011 you are allowed to:
    • work for up to 20 hours per week during term time;
    • work full-time during vacations;
    • do a work placement as part of your course;
    • work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Programme; and
    • work as a student union sabbatical officer for up to 2 years.
    • If you are allowed to work, you can work full-time during vacations within the above limits. If you have completed your course and you apply to remain in the UK under the points-based system before your existing permission to stay expires, you can work full-time (within the above limits) until your application is decided.
  • Otherwise:
    • 20 hours per week if you are studying a course at or above UK degree level or a foundation degree course, and/or if you made your Tier-4 (General) application on or before 2nd March 2010;
    • Or 10 hours per week if you are studying a course that is below UK degree level and is not foundation degree course, and you made your Tier-4 (General) application on or after 3rd March 2010.
    • You can work full-time during vacations, within the above limits. If  you have completed your course and you apply to remain in the UK under the points-based system before your existing permission to stay expires, you can work full-time (within the above limits) until your application is decided.
  • The following link takes you to the Visas, immigration, studying, adult-students, conditions page, which can give you further detail.  UK Border Agency - Adult students - Tier 4 (General)

3. Can I start a business while under the Tier-4 student visa?

No. You may not be self-employed while on a Tier 4 visa unless you have successfully completed your course and have made an application for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa which is still being processed, or you have completed your course and are on the Doctorate Extension Scheme.  Further information.

4. Can I stay in the UK after graduation if I don’t have a job yet at that point?

4.1 If you want to extend your stay, you must apply for permission to do so before your existing permission ends. If your permission has already ended, you are required to leave the country – if you do not do so, you may be liable for removal.

Before you apply to extend your permission to stay, you should ensure that you meet the requirements in your immigration category. To find out about these requirement and to download an application form, select your immigration category from the list below.

Points-based system categories

4.2 Other work categories

4.3 Family categories:

Spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of a British citizen

Spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of an EEA National

4.4 Extending your permission to stay

If you want to apply for permission to settle permanently in the UK (also called ‘indefinite leave to remain’), you should read the section on settlement.

4.5 PhD Students

From 6th April 2013 changes are being made to the student route (Tier-4). This will mean that if you are a PhD student completing your course, you can apply to stay in the UK for a further 12 months, beyond the end of your course to find skilled work or to set up as an entrepreneur.

5. What is a Tier-2 (general) Visa?

5.1 The Tier 2 (general) category is for foreign nationals who have been offered a skilled job to fill in a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.

5.2 Do you need a Tier 2 visa to come to the UK?

Tier 2 is part of the UK points-based system, which is for migrants from outside Europe. You do not need to apply under the points-based system if:

  • You are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland – the European nationals section describes your right to work in the UK;
  • you are a British overseas territories citizen, unless you are from one of the sovereign base areas in Cyprus;
  • you are a Commonwealth citizen with permission to enter or stay in the UK because at least one of your grandparents were born here – the UK ancestry section explains how you can apply.
  • Your partner or (if you are under 18) one of your parents has permission to stay in the UK under Tier-2 of the points-based system – you should apply as their dependant; or
  • You have no conditions or time limit attached to your stay.

Further information that applies to Tier-2 Visas

6. Is the process for applying for and/or receiving a Tier-2 visa different depending on if I apply from within the UK or from outside the UK?

Yes. There are a few main differences that you will need to familiarise yourself with when considering applying for a Tier-2 visa from inside or outside of the UK.

The complete set of differences can be found on the UKBA website. As the specific information changes often, we will not list any numerical differences here.

The following are some of the main differences between the two options:

6.1 The fees for the visa application are different.

6.2 The personal requirements including a minimum bank account amount and time-of-hold are different.

6.3 When you apply for a Tier-2 visa from within the UK, your prospective sponsor needs to issue a Certificate of Sponsor. These certificates are unrestricted and do not count against their quota. When applying from outside of the UK, your prospective sponsor needs to issue a Restricted Certificate of Sponsor, which counts against a quota and they are limited to the amount of certificates they can issue based on the number of which they applied.

6.4 Applying for a Tier-2 visa from within the UK removes the requirement of satisfying the Resident Labour Market Test for a position advertised.

7. An organisation is refusing to consider my application on the basis that I do not yet have the right to work in the UK. Is this allowed?

7.1 Not necessarily. Such a decision could be open to challenge.

7.2 Decisions by employers who reject job applications on the basis of the need to obtain the right to work in the UK may be open to challenge. AGCAS has obtained the view of a leading business immigration lawyer on the implication of the Osborne Clarke Services v Purohit case, which highlights the conflict between UK immigration law and employment law.

Philip Trott, Partner and Head of Immigration at Bates Wells & Braithwaite in London, outlined the ramifications of the case, which ruled that there was indirect discrimination on the grounds of race when an application from non-EEA national was rejected (Article Linked Below).

7.3 There is a tension in the points based system between RLMT (resident labour market route), which allows employers to sponsor an immigrant only if no suitable resident workers are available, and the relevant case law, which found that there was indirect discrimination on the grounds of race when an application from non-EEA national was rejected.

8. I have a problem, or need further clarification/guidance and/or advice. Where do I go?

8.1 The Careers Centre is not authorised to provide advice on visa issues. We do have access to some resources to assist you in your queries and can help provide you with information sources.

Information about the certifier - Jamie Kerr