International Students: A Guide to Working Part-time in the UK

Student life in the UK can be great fun, but a common complaint is that it is very expensive! As a result, many international students choose to work part-time while they study in the UK. Therefore, this article will provide a detailed guide on how to work part-time as an international student studying in the UK.

student working part-time

Benefits of working part-time while studying

Apart from earning some extra cash, working while studying can help you to gain more career experience to enhance your CV, make new friends and learn more about the culture of the UK.

How to get a part-time job in the UK as an international student

As an international student, you will have a Tier 4 visa when you arrive in the UK. The hours you are eligible to work will be on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as well as on your visa. As of 2019, international students can work for up to 20 hours per week.

student visa uk

Once you are in the UK, you will need to apply for a National Insurance number.

What is a National Insurance (NI) number?

It is a personal reference number for all your employment affairs. Everyone in the UK is required to have a National Insurance (NI) number to be legally allowed to work.

Ni number international student UK

Follow these steps to get your own National Insurance number:

Step 1:

You must contact the NI helpline on 0345 600 0643 (Monday-Friday from 8.00am-6.00pm) to arrange an interview at a local Jobcentre Plus.

Step 2:

During the interview, you will be asked the following questions:

✓ Why are you currently in the UK?

✓ Have you applied for a NI number before?

✓ Why do you need a NI number?

✓ What is your nationality?

✓ Do you have any other nationalities?

Step 3:

Next, you will be required to provide the following information:

✓ Full name

✓ Date of birth

✓ Full address and postcode of where you are currently living

✓ Contact information

Step 4:

While waiting for a permanent NI number, you will be issued with a temporary one. This is just to keep track of the extra contributions you will be making until you get your NI card in the mail and inform your employer.

Step 5:

You will be sent an application pack. You will be required to submit the forms contained in the pack. You must return the forms to the address provided.

What happens next?

You should receive your NI number and NI number card about 4-6 weeks after you return the paperwork.

Take note!! You do not need a NI number when you first begin working but will eventually need to provide one to your employer.

In the meantime, you will pay emergency tax. HRMC will return the tax through cheques by the end of the tax year to your address.

Current Minimum Wage in the UK

You should be aware of the current minimum wage in the UK:

Age Min. wage
18-20 £6.15  
21-24 £7.70  
25 and over £8.21

In the event that you are not paid the minimum wage, you can report your employer to HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs). You can also contact the ACAS helpline for Workplace Advice — in confidence, for advice in more than 100 languages — on 0300 123 1100.

Where can I find jobs?

Firstly, there are many avenues that you as a student can use to look for part-time jobs. A common one is through online websites such as:

In addition, there are also other ways that you as a student can look for jobs. Your university’s student union will have job vacancy information available for you. In fact, the student’s union often has many jobs of its own. Alternatively, you can go to your university career support centre to request assistance in searching for jobs or to have your CV improved. In general, there are usually many part-time jobs available around universities!

How do I balance work and studies?

Although your visa permits you to work for up to 20 hours per week, universities recommend working less than this in order to ensure you have enough time for your studies. It is also important to only work in your free time. Don’t start missing lectures so you can work more hours!

Any further questions about working part-time in the UK? Contact UKEC by leaving your details here.                                            

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