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Can I do freelancing while on a Student visa?

If you are an international student on a Student visa in the UK, it is important for you to understand the terms of your visa's work and employment conditions while studying for your course.


Working during your studies


Students on full-time degree-level courses holding a Student visa are generally permitted to work in the UK. However, you need to be aware of the rules regulating employment on a Student visa. Those are as follows:


  • You can work up to 20 hours per week during university term time. UKVI has defined a "week" as "a seven-day period starting on a Monday and ending on a Sunday."

  • You can work full-time in vacation periods (check the closure dates and vacations for your university; these dates might vary across the universities).

  • You can work full-time during term time if on a work placement that is an integral and assessed part of the course - any work placement must not be longer than 50% of the total course length (unless there is a UK statutory requirement for the course to contain a specific period of work placement which exceeds this limit)


If you hold a Student visa for a part-time course, you will not have the right to undertake any work, paid or unpaid, in the UK.


What do those rules mean in terms of freelancing? - Student Visa


While you are in the UK on a Student visa, you are not allowed to be "self-employed or engage in business activity”. The Home Office provides some examples of what would be considered "engaging in business" (so you would not be allowed to do this) in their visa guidance. This includes:


  • Setting up a business as a sole trader or under a partnership arrangement, and that business is either trading or establishing a trading presence.

  • Being employed by a company in which you hold shares of 10% or more (including where the shares are held in trust for you), or

  • Working for a company where you also hold a statutory role, such as a director


It is important to note that, even if you are working for a company or client outside the UK, if you are physically in the UK while you are doing the work, then this counts towards your 20-hour limit. It also means that if you are doing any freelance work for someone outside the UK (e.g. editing journal articles), this would count as self-employment so is not allowed.


If you wish to stay in the UK after you complete your studies, you may consider applying for the Graduate visa as it offers its holder the opportunity for self-employment.


Contact us today if you have any concerns about whether you are complying with your student visa's work restrictions, or if you are considering switching to the Graduate visa.


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