General and working FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions - General

Absolutely! Many students take advantage of our proximity to Europe to visit other countries for tourism or to attend conferences to aid their research.  If you plan to explore as a tourist, you must ensure that your planned travel is not within term time.  Remember, postgraduate taught degree (PGT) students do not benefit from the same summer vacation as undergraduate degree (UG) students.

For countries outside Europe, students should apply for a tourist / visit visa for each country they will visit.  Applications must be made to the relevant embassies within the UK of the destination countries.

For countries within Europe, a special agreement means that students in the UK with a student visa can apply for a 'Schengen Visa' to enter a European country, or several European countries as part of the same trip.  

More information on how to apply for a Schengen visa and other useful information can be found here

Your friends and family may wish to come to the UK for a short holiday and to see you during your time studying in the UK.  They may also decide to come to the UK for your graduation ceremony.  For these visits, they need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa.

The UKVI website here has information on how to apply and the documentation required.  Further information is available on the self-service Knowledge Base in eVision.

Following the UK Government announcement on 23rd May 2023, for course dates starting from 1st January 2024, only Post Graduate Research (PGR) students may bring their dependents to the UK. 

Students whose course started before 1st January 2024 can apply for their partner / dependant child to join them in the UK as Points Based System (PBS) dependants.  You will be able to do this if you are either;

  • a postgraduate student on a course that is for nine months or more
  • a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts for six months or more

An overview of the requirements can be found on the UKVI website here, however, we strongly recommend that you receive advice and support from Immigration Compliance and Advice before you commence any application.  

If you are intending on applying for the Graduate Route, partners / children are only able to apply with you if they are already in the UK as your PBS dependant.


The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a health surcharge that must be paid as part of any visa application to stay in the UK for more than six months.  This gives you access to free healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS) for the duration of your stay in the UK.  You will still need to pay for certain types of services such as prescribed medicines, dental treatment, eye tests and glasses / contact lenses.  

If you will be in the UK for six months or less, and apply from outside of the UK, you do not need to pay the IHS fee, but if you are applying from inside the UK, then you will need to pay £388, which is half of the fee.

The IHS is an annual amount that is payable for each year (or part year) that you will be staying in the UK.  Those applying for a student visa (and any dependants) are able to enjoy a lower annual rate of the Immigration Health Surcharge, this is currently £776 per year against the full rate of £1,035 per year.

Further information on the UK Healthcare system, and how to access and receive healthcare while you are in the UK, is available in the Self-Service Portal and on the UK Government website here.

You will usually only be able to open a UK bank account after you have enrolled on your course.  You should research carefully the international student bank accounts on offer from the major UK banks to be sure to find the account that is right for you.  Some will have special rates for international transfers, while some may charge a monthly fee to operate the account and others may have a free gift on joining that is beneficial to you.  It is a good idea to talk to other students to find recommendations.

Some students are now choosing to open an online only account before they arrive in the UK.  Banks such as Starling and Monzo will open an account and have it operational in time for your arrival in the UK, however, the selection criteria means that they may refuse to open an account without providing a reason.

You generally need two documents to open an account:

  • proof of ID, which is your passport and visa
  • proof of address, the best evidence of this is a Student Status Letter from Student Services (ensure your UK address is correct on eVision)

For a September intake we aim to begin the CAS process from the start of May onwards. For a January intake the CAS process will start from the end of September/ early October.  The CAS process is detailed here.


Frequently Asked Questions - Working

If you have a Student Route Visa, your BRP or digital status will give you the number of hours you are permitted to work each week. For degree level courses it is twenty hours per week and below degree level it is ten hours per week.  The UKVI consider a week to be Monday to Sunday.

Working while you study is a fantastic way to get some good work experience in your field, enhance your CV and increase your professional network. It is also a way to supplement your income, which we understand is more important than ever now we are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and many country’s currencies are significantly devalued. 

However, there are also limits on the types of work you can do, so please read the other questions here – we want to support you to protect your UK immigration permission. 

It is extremely important that you do not work more hours than you are permitted or do types of work that you are not allowed to do; the Home Office takes this very seriously. They can cancel your visa, remove you from the UK and even ban you from re-entering the UK. Recently several Keele University students have been withdrawn from their course and deported from the UK because they were caught working too many hours, so we know it does happen!! As your international student advice team, we must warn you about these risks, but please don’t panic! The most important thing is for you to stay focused on your main reason for being in the UK: studying full-time. 

Undergraduate students:
You may work full time during the University holidays. These holidays are Christmas, Easter and Summer.

Post graduate Taught students (PGT- Masters)
You can work full time during the Christmas and Easter holidays. The summer holidays you are expected to be doing your dissertation and you are restricted to the permitted number of hours on your BRP.

Post graduate Research students (PGR- PhD)
You are only allowed to work the permitted number of hours that are on your BRP even during the University holidays as you have no set term times.

University term dates can be found here, but for all students at the University, we want to remind you that you have come to the UK to study and we do not want your working to affect your studies.

At present with courses that can offer a work placement pathway, the work placement is not added to a CAS / at the point a visa is issued, as a placement is not guaranteed and it is an optional module (not compulsory).  For example, the course offer is correct as the course is for twelve months and any visa application will be for a twelve month programme.

On commencing the course, students should discuss with the Placements Officer in the School to secure an appropriate placement that meets the academic criteria and immigration requirements.  Your School and Immigration Compliance and Advice would confirm this after a potential placement provider has been found.  For students on Student Route visas, UKVI have strict requirements on the types of placements that can be undertaken.  For example a work placement cannot fill a full time permanent vacancy.

You must ensure that you contact Immigration Compliance and Advice with the details of a placement, as this will need to be checked and agreed to before commencing.  If a placement is agreed by all parties and you can complete the placement before your visa expires, then a new visa may not be required.  However, if your placement would extended the end date of your course, then we may consider a visa extension but this is not guaranteed and this is an Immigration Compliance and Advice decision.

If you are doing a short term study on a standard Visitor visa you cannot:

  • study at a State School
  • work (excluding Medical or Veterinary Science Electives) or do voluntary work
  • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of a marriage or a civil partnership
  • come to the UK specifically for NHS medical treatment
  • extend a Standard Visitor visa in the UK or intend to study in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive periods on a Standard Visitor visa
  • bring family members (dependants) – they must apply for a separate visa
  • have access to public funds
  • undertake research in any other circumstances or be employed as a sponsored researcher

Refer to for further details.

Your Student Visa conditions restrict the types of work you can do. Your contract should always be for a fixed period, you must not take a permanent job.  

You are prohibited from engaging in business activities. This is defined by UKVI as “working for a business in which you have a financial or other significant beneficial interest in a capacity other than as an employee”. (“Student Route Caseworker Guidance”) Examples of this given by UKVI are setting up a business, working for a company which you hold shares in, being a company director. However, this is not an exhaustive list. It would be sensible to assume that trading in stocks and shares would be considered “business activity;” especially if you are making a profit. While the Immigration Rules do not restrict what you can buy or own, so you are allowed to purchase shares, you should stop trading for profit while you have a UK student visa. 

You cannot be self-employed which includes freelance work (even if 100% of your clients are outside of the UK) – think carefully about this when working in the “gig economy” (for example, Deliveroo, DPD, Evri, etc) as many of these companies’ workers are self-employed.  

There are several other restrictions on the types of work you can do, for example; you cannot be an entertainer (paid or unpaid), nor can you be a professional sportsperson or sports coach.  

If you have any doubts or questions about a prospective job, please come and talk to a member of the Immigration, Compliance and Advice team before you accept the position. We will be happy to talk to you about your situation and help you decide the best way forward to protect your visa. We are available in the Tawney Building, every weekday (excluding UK Bank Holidays) from 10am to 4pm, or you can email 

We can also talk to you about work placements and how some of the above restrictions are affected if your employment is an assessed part of your course.