Finding work, employers and tax

Last modified: 03 August 2022

Before you start looking for work, make sure you understand your work restrictions. You might need to explain them to employers. But you can refer employers to Home Office guidance about your work rights. 

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Right to work checks: an employer's guide

Finding work

Last modified: 03 August 2022

Your college or university will have a careers service. They should be able to offer you help with:

  • looking for suitable work including internships
  • applying for a job
  • interview techniques and practice
  • recruiter events
  • job fairs
  • contacting alumni who work in areas of interest to you

Online job search services include:

Remember to check your work restrictions and to follow them. For example you must not work on a freelance basis - see What kind of work can you do?

Job agencies and websites should not ask you to pay for help in applying for or getting work. The UK Government has guidance on what you can expect from an employer when you look for a job. See Your rights and safety when looking for a job

Do not take a job if you have doubts about the employer and how they will treat you.

Income tax, National Insurance

Last modified: 29 January 2019

You will have to pay income tax if you earn more than a specified personal allowance in any tax year. Find out more from from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Employees and employers both pay National Insurance contributions. Full details are here: National Insurance: introduction: Overview.

Your home country's tax authorities might expect you to file a tax return there, or to pay tax on your UK earnings. Check with the relevant government department in your home country.

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group has produced a tax guide for students. It has a special section for international students

HM Revenue and Customs also has information about tax aimed at students.

Apply for a NI number

Last modified: 03 August 2022

Your National Insurance number (NINo) is a unique personal number. It is a record of your National Insurance contributions. Your employer deducts National Insurance contributions from your pay.

You do not need to have a NINo before starting work, though employers often expect you to have one. You can apply for a NINo after you have started your job. But you will need to prove to your employer that you have the right to work in the UK. See Employer right to work checks.

For details of how to apply for a NINo and what to do if you lose it, see:

Apply for a National Insurance number: Who can apply for a National Insurance number - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Find a lost National Insurance number - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Employer right to work checks

Last modified: 03 August 2022

If you have immigration permission that allows you to work, you do not need to get any further approval.

An employer must check that your work condition permits you to do the job for which you have applied. The Home Office calls this a right to work check. An employer must conduct this check in a way that does not discriminate against you.

An employer's guide to right to work checks

Code of practice on avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working

You need to get a share code. Your share code is valid for 90 days and you can use it more than once during that period. The code must begin with 'W'.

View and prove your immigration status

You give this share code to your employer so that they can conduct an online check.

View a job applicant's right to work details

If you cannot get a share code, talk to your employer.

You might be waiting for a decision on your application. Or you might have exceptional assurance. In these situations, an employer can use the Employer checking service. They must wait for Home Office approval before you can start work.

Your employer will also need to see information about the term dates for your course. This information can be in any format. For example, dates from your sponsor's website, an email to you or a letter to the employer.

If you are doing a work placement, your sponsor must provide details in a letter to your employer.

Sometimes, employers must also conduct criminal record checks before you can start work.

Check someone's criminal record as an employer

Criminal records checks for overseas applicants

Employer obligations

Last modified: 03 August 2022

UK employers have legal duties towards their employees. These include:

  • anti-discrimination measures
  • health and safety requirements
  • the obligation to pay the minimum wage
  • the obligation to apply laws relating to working hours and breaks
  • the duty to pay National Insurance contributions
  • the duty to provide wage slips (printed or online)

For details, see:

Working, jobs and pensions (for workers and jobseekers)

Employing people (for employers)

Tax credits and welfare benefits

Last modified: 03 August 2022

Students and Child students are subject to the condition "No access to public funds". This means you must not apply for tax credits, or other benefits that are "public funds". 

There is an exception if your country has an agreement with the UK. You should seek advice from an immigration adviser before you claim public funds.

See our information, Public funds.

For information about agreements with the UK, see also Public funds (caseworker guidance).


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