Work placements are a great opportunity to develop your skills and experience in the workplace, and put you at an advantage for getting a job in the future. The Placement Team and Careers Service can provide a lot of useful information for all students considering a work placement as part of their course.
What is a work placement?
A work placement is a period of time spent in a workplace as part of your course, and is separate to other types of work opportunities that may also be available to you. Your Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) will not specifically state that you are allowed to do a work placement. However, if you hold a Student visa you are permitted to undertake a placement provided it meets the guidelines issued by UKVI which can be summarised as:
- the course that you are studying must lead to an approved qualification (this includes all undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses at UWE Bristol)
- the work placement must be assessed as an integral part of your course
- the work placement must not be longer than one third of the total course length (or one half of the total course length if you are studying at degree level or higher at UWE Bristol).
Integral means that the placement must be undertaken as part of a course study – you cannot just suspend your studies and take a year to work in the UK if you hold a Student visa. Suspension of studies would lead to your Student visa being curtailed.
Assessed means that you must be registered on and complete the coursework for the academic module related to your placement.
International students can take a paid or unpaid work placement.
BRP and work permissions
You can do a full-time work placement even if your BRP says that your working hours are restricted to a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time, provided your placement meets the UKVI guidelines.
Work placements are not the same as permission to work, they are not subject to the same restrictions and can therefore be full time. If your BRP confirms that you are permitted to take employment, you can do that in addition to working on your placement.
If your BRP states that you are not permitted to do a work placement and you think this is incorrect, please contact the Immigration Advice Service at UWE Bristol to discuss whether it is possible to get this amended.
Extending your visa for a placement year
Many courses at UWE Bristol have the option of including a placement year. However, as you will not have your placement confirmed before you start your course the placement year is not included on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) that you use to obtain your visa. If you secure a work placement once you have started your course, and will need additional time in the UK to complete your studies because of this, you will need to make an application to extend your visa.
You can make the application to extend your visa either before or after your work placement and from inside or outside of the UK. You will need to meet the relevant criteria for submitting the visa application, including having a new CAS, and will need to make associated payments such as the application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge. Please do contact the Immigration Advice Service to speak to an Adviser about when, where and how to make your application and to receive support through the process.
Work placement overseas and your UK visa
It may be possible to do a work placement overseas. The University would ordinarily continue your visa sponsorship during your period of placement. You are advised to speak to an Immigration Adviser to discuss whether an overseas work placement will affect your visa and how to make a new visa application if necessary.
Please note that the Immigration Advice Service cannot offer advice on visas and immigration requirements for countries other than the UK, and it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the relevant permission to legally enter and work in the country where you will be doing your placement.
Find a work placement
The Immigration Advice Service are unable to offer any advice or support on how to find a work placement. However, the Placement Team have provided some very useful information on how to find a placement.
If you have spoken to employers who say they are not sure if they can offer international students work placements, remember that employers always need to ensure that everyone who works for them has the relevant right to do so.
UKVI provides guidance for employers who want to offer work to international students in the UK. Specific information about offering work placements to international students can be found in the full guide for employers on preventing illegal working in the UK (PDF) and the frequently asked questions.
Placements without a Student visa
Some types of visa – for example the UK Visitor visa which is sometimes issued for short-term study in the UK – do not permit you to undertake a work placement. Please check with an Immigration Adviser if you do not hold a Student visa and would like to do a work placement.
Other work opportunities
If you would like to work in the UK as an international student but do not want to do a work placement as part of your course, other opportunities may be available including:
- Employment in line with your visa permissions – read further information about working in the UK during your studies.
- Volunteering– volunteering and voluntary work are permitted on the Student visa, however, you should ensure that voluntary work does not exceed the maximum hours permitted by your visa, either on its own or in combination.
- Internships such as those offered by the International Talent Scheme at UWE Bristol – please always ensure that you only undertake work which is permitted on your visa.
Please contact the Immigration Advice Service if you are unsure of your permissions or have any queries.