International students on student visas

International students on student visas

If you are an international student studying at Sheffield Hallam on a student visa and you are looking to undertake a placement year, this page explains what you need to know about placements and your student visa, and is based on the full guidance of the UK Government. You should read this in addition to the 10 things you need to know about placements.

When you can work Full-time Hours

You must not work more than 20 hours per week during term-time, unless this is on an approved placement or during a University vacation period. This includes working on site and remotely.

Undergraduate international students can work more than 20 hours per week, during University vacation periods as defined on the University’s undergraduate academic calendar. This is usually during Christmas, Easter and the summer (unlike postgraduate students).
Postgraduate international students can also work more than 20 hours per week, during University vacation periods as defined on the University’s postgraduate academic calendar. This is usually during Christmas and Easter, but postgraduate students do not have a summer vacation period.

All international students can work more than 20 hours during the placement year, but only when the placement has been approved. You must never start a job you intend to use as a placement until the placement has been approved by the Work Experience Team.

All placements must include a minimum of 21 hours work per week to be approved; and must include 1 day per week of on-site working – NOT fully remote working. See Hybrid working section below for further information.

If you need to discuss your student visa conditions further, please speak to an International Experience Adviser during our specialist advice drop-in appointment. For more information on working part-time during your studies visit our Go Global pages.

Course transfers for Student visa holders from the full time version of the course on to the sandwich or work experience routes is not permitted, if there is not adequate time on the Student visa to do so.

Part-time work in addition to your placement

An approved placement is exempt from the restrictions on your visa that prevent you from working more than 20 hours per week. This means that you can work part-time in addition to your placement, up to a maximum of 20 hours per week (or the recommended 15 hours if working on campus at Hallam), but you MUST NOT reduce the hours of your placement to work part-time. As your placement will be full time, we do not recommend you take on additional part time work. You MUST ALWAYS prioritise and focus on your placement, which is part of your course, and any part-time work you do WILL NOT count toward your placement.

Proof of eligibility to work

If the organisations you are applying for require a letter to confirm that you are studying a degree that includes a work placement as part of the course, please request this from the Work Experience Team.

This letter will include:

  • A statement to confirm you are studying a degree which includes a work placement as an integrated and assessed part of the course
  • Information on how your placement must be approved before you start the placement
  • Information on how your eligibility to work will change once your placement has been approved to allow you to work more than 20 hours per week
  • Information on your Placement Provider’s responsibilities during the placement

In addition, once you have secured a placement and your placement has been approved, a further letter may be requested from the Work Experience Team to confirm that your specific placement meets the criteria to become a part of your course.

An employer may refer to your visa Share code, this will only detail the hours you can work alongside your studies and will not change with your placement, however your placement is part of your course and needs to be full time hours. The letter mentioned, should be sufficient for employers.

Maximum length of placement

Your placement should not take up more than 50% of the total time that you spend on your course. For example, postgraduate students on a 2-year course are therefore only allowed to be on placement for the maximum of one calendar year. If you are on an undergraduate course, these are usually 4-year courses, which means you can work for longer than 12 months during your placement year, but only if this is part of your approved placement and as long as this does not exceed more than 50% of the total time spent on your course.

Types of work you are not able to do whilst working on a student visa

The following types of job are not allowed under the conditions of your student visa, therefore you must not apply for these types of job as you cannot: 

  • Be employed as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach)
  • Be employed as an entertainer
  • Be self-employed (please contact the Enterprise Team for alternative options)
  • Engage in business activity (e.g. being employed by a company in which you hold shares of 10% or more, including where the shares are held in a trust for you; or working for a company where you also hold a statutory role, such as a director)
  • Fill a full-time, permanent vacancy (your employment must always be ‘fixed-term’ and have a clear end date)

The University also requires that your placement is of an appropriate standard for your level of study; this is the same for all students as part of the eligibility criteria for our Sandwich Placement and Postgraduate Work Experience degrees but if you are studying with us on a student visa, your placement approval will be checked more thoroughly to ensure your visa conditions are met.

Your placement must also be either Hybrid, or fully on-site, but not fully remote working from home. See Hybrid working section for more details.

Student visa sponsorship 

The University is still your student visa sponsor so it is important that you stay in contact and keep your contact details up-to-date and tell the University if anything changes by contacting the Work Experience Team. Your placement must be approved in advance as part of your student visa conditions and you must never start your placement until your placement has been approved by the Work Experience Team.

Working outside the UK on placement

All students at Sheffield Hallam have the option of undertaking an international placement outside the UK. If you wish to do a placement overseas, Sheffield Hallam University will continue to sponsor you on your student visa unless you will be working in your home country. You will need to seek immigration permission from the country where you will work, unless you plan to work in your home country. Please note it is your responsibility to apply for the relevant visa for the country you will be working in. The University is not able to apply for you. You must follow the same guidelines as if you were working in the UK and keep us informed of any changes.

Working in your Home country on placement

If your placement is in your Home country and starts after the 1st May 2023, the University will withdraw sponsorship of your student visa as this should not be required to enable you to complete your placement. You will need to reapply for your student visa toward the end of your placement year to resume any remaining studies in the UK , if you do not have any remaining study then you will not be able to reapply for a new student visa. To speak to a specialist adviser in the International Experience Team, please contact Hallam Help.

Inform the University about your placement before you start 

Once you have secured a placement you MUST get your placement approved by the Work Experience Team immediately. If you start your placement before your placement has been approved, this will breach your student visa conditions. You must follow the same approval process as all students undertaking a placement. See our Get your placement approved page.

Latest date to secure a placement

You must inform the University you have a placement immediately before these dates, whichever is the earliest date that is relevant to you/your course:

  • 31 July – for all Undergraduate courses; or
  • One calendar month before your placement is due to start – whichever comes first.

The very final date to let us know is the week before your final year induction week – we will ask you for an update in June to see if you need more time beyond the 31 July date, otherwise you will be transferred to the full-time version of your course. You must contact the Work Experience Team if you don’t have a placement secured by then but you want to continue looking for a placement.

  • The deadline set by your course team (e.g. May); or
  • 31 July – for all courses that started in September; or
  • 30 November – for all courses that started in January; or
  • One calendar month before your dissertation deadline, or module (if applicable); or
  • One calendar month before your placement is due to start – whichever comes first.

The very final date to let us know is set by your course team, this is usually your dissertation submission deadline, or when your dissertation module is due to start. Otherwise, you will need to submit your dissertation and your course will come to an end. 

If you are a postgraduate student and you secure a placement by the deadline you will be given a new dissertation submission date which will be a date after your placement is due to finish. This will need to be agreed by your course team and will be updated on your assessment scheduler once it has been approved.
Any requests to approve a placement after these dates are by exception only. If you’re worried a placement might not be approved at all or not approved in time, contact the Work Experience Team.

Breaks between study and placement; and/or breaks during placement

You should not usually have a break between your studies, working on your dissertation and starting your placement unless it is during an official University vacation period

You MUST NOT take a break of more than 30 days, or leave a gap of more than 30 days in which you are not working on your placement, engaging in your studies, or working on your dissertation. This includes waiting for your placement to start.

If, in exceptional circumstances, you need a break between your studies, working on your dissertation, starting your placement or during your placement for any reason you must notify Hallam Help urgently. You may be able to request an Authorised Absence for a short period without affecting your visa

If you need a longer break, or you are not eligible to request an Authorised Absence you may need to suspend your studies and return at a later date. More information about your responsibilities as student on the University’s main Student visa page.

Monitoring during your placement 

Throughout your placement, the University will continue to monitor your attendance to see if you are still actively engaging in your studies/placement. The University is required to do this by UKVI. To do this, the University will send monthly emails to your employer to check if you attending your placement as normal. 

Please note that if you do not actively take part in your placement or you change your placement provider (employer) without informing University, this could have serious consequences to your student visa. The University is obligated to report any breach of your conditions to UKVI. Failure to do so could result in your visa being curtailed. 

When placements should finish 

Your placement must finish before your course finishes, or before your final year begins. If you are on an undergraduate course, you will usually start your fourth (and final) year in September, which means your placement must have finished before your final year induction week. If you are on a postgraduate course, your placement is usually the last part of your course and this must finish before your course end date. If you do continue working on placement after your course end date, this will be a breach of your student visa conditions. 

You may work full-time at the end of your course when successful completion of your award has been confirmed by an exam board, however, this will also depend on your individual circumstances. You should request an employer letter from who will assess your eligibility to work on a fulltime basis to ensure that you meet the set criteria, alternatively you can contact Hallam Help.

In the period after you finish your placement and before your course is complete you can work hours permitted during term only, as defined by the permissions on your visa

You might also be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa, more information on our Graduate visa page.

Additional questions

More information is available on the UK Government website.  

If you have any further questions about placements, please contact the Work Experience Team.