Part-time work for non-UK students

Posted on: 03 Aug 2017

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Many international students in the UK will look for work alongside their studies and this may be something you wish to look into before you arrive in the country. In this blog we will look at the practicalities of finding part-time work in the UK, what you have to do and how to go about it.

Step 1: The National Insurance Number

The first step to getting a part-time job is getting a National Insurance number. You need this to be able to undertake paid work legally in the UK. This applies to all students of all nationalities. Your National Insurance number (or NINO) is unique to you and it ensures that the National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded against your name.

Getting an NI number is easy enough and don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything, but it can take a little time, so it should be the first thing you do. You need to call the National Insurance number application line on 0345 600 0643 and then one of two things will happen:

  • You’ll be sent an application pack in the post. It is simple enough to complete, send it back and then you’ll receive your NI card with your number on.
  • You may be called for interview in order to carry-out the process face-to-face. Don’t worry if you are called for interview, it isn’t personal! They simply carry-out a certain number of applications face-to-face. The interviews usually take place at the Jobcentre in Southampton and you will take your documents to interview and complete the paperwork there.

How to get to your interview

Southampton is easy enough to get to from Portsmouth by public transport. A direct train from Portsmouth and Southsea to Southampton Central will take around 40 minutes and cost £10 for a return. It is then a 20 minute walk from the station to the Jobcentre where the majority of interviews take place. When you come out of the station (from whichever side), head up the hill towards the city centre. Walk past the Guildhall until you get to Above Bar Street (KFC is on the corner) and turn right. Head down Above Bar Street onto the pedestrianised High Street and keep walking until you come to Bernard Street on the left (by the church tower). The Jobcentre is just behind this on the left.

What else about the NI number?

It’s important to note that you cannot apply for an NI number until you are in the UK. Also, you can start your job search (and even start a job) without one so don’t worry about hanging on until you have the card in your hand. However, you would need to make it clear to the employer that you are in the process of applying for an NI number and that you will provide them with it as soon as you get it.

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Work Restrictions

It is really important that you take into account any work restrictions that you may have in the UK:

  • If you are an EU student then you have no work restrictions.
  • If you are a non-EU international student on a Tier 4 student visa then you will be restricted to working no more than 20 hours a week during term time. PLEASE NOTE: This includes both paid and voluntary work, so if you find a part-time job for 15 hours per week, you cannot volunteer for longer than 5 hours per week. We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep within these restrictions. Out of term time you can work without restrictions (i.e. the Christmas and Easter vacations and over the summer) though it is important to note that the rules differ for postgraduate students. For the upcoming 2017/18 academic year, teaching block 1 lasts between 25th September and 15th December, teaching block 2 lasts between 8th January and 30th March and the consolidation and exam period lasts between 23rd April and 1st June. If you are on a postgraduate course then term time finishes once you have submitted your final project or dissertation. Please note that if you submit before your standard course leaving date the end date of your Tier 4 visa may be brought forward.
  • If you are a Croatian student then you need to apply for a yellow registration certificate in order to be able to work in the UK. You will need to obtain this before you can apply for an NI number and then the same work restrictions will apply as for non-EU international students (20 hours per week in term time).

So why look for part-time work?

Not every international student will look to work part-time alongside their studies, and there is certainly no pressure to, but for those that do there can be a number of benefits. These include:

  • An opportunity to increase experience. Whether course relevant or not, your part-time job can help strengthen your CV by evidencing different skills.
  • A chance to build confidence, meet new people and improve your language skills.
  • Earn some extra cash to help improve your experience abroad.

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What we can help with…

You can pop into Purple Door at any time during office hours (8:30-17:15 Mon-Thur, 8:30-16:15 Fri) to talk to an adviser on our drop-in service. This can include help with your CV, cover letters, application forms, how to get an NI number, how to search for jobs, interview practice and anything else related to jobs and employment. From the start of term we will be running a dedicated part-time jobs hub in the centre and this will include specific workshops for international students looking for part-time work.

Once you are fully registered with the university you will have access to our jobsite MyPurpleDoor. This contains hundreds of part-time opportunities for you to search and apply for as well as the chance to source volunteering roles, book appointments and sign-up for workshops and events.

Also check out our video guide on looking for part-time work as a non-UK student