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European Economic Area and Swiss students: the rules about working

The number of hours and type of work you can do depends on your nationality. It is very important that you understand the rules which apply to your nationality. If you break the rules, your employment may be illegal.

We have summarised the rules below and you can also find information on the UKCISA website.

If you are a national of AustriaBelgiumBulgaria,CyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkEstoniaFinlandFranceGermanyGreece,HungaryIcelandIrelandItalyLatviaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMaltaNetherlandsNorwayPolandPortugalRomania,SlovakiaSloveniaSpainSweden, or Switzerland, you can work legally in the UK with no restriction on the number of hours or type of work you do.

Croatian nationals

If you are a national of Croatia, you need to register before starting work in the UK, unless you are exempt from this requirement (see below for exemptions). Please note that even when you have obtained worker authorisation, your hours of work are restricted – see 'How many hours can I work' below.

To register, you will need to apply for a Yellow Registration Certificate on form CR1. You are advised to apply for permission as soon as possible as you will not be able to undertake any work until you obtain this. You can get more information and apply online.

If you are not exempt but you have student immigration permission (Tier 4 or pre-Tier 4) which is valid beyond the 1 July 2013, then you will be able to work (up to the maximum hours specified on your visa) until your visa expires.

If you wish to continue working beyond your student/Tier 4 visa expiry date you will need to obtain permission.

Please note, you will not be able to work in the period between the end date of your student/Tier 4 visa and the date you are issued with your Yellow Registration Certificate. Therefore, it is advisable to apply for authorisation as soon as possible.

Exemptions from registration

You may be exempt if you have worked legally in the UK without interruption for a full 12 month period ending on or after 30 June 2013. A period of work is classed as being continuous if you were employed at the beginning and end of the period and there have been no breaks in the employment totalling more than 30 calendar days. The employment can be with one or more employers.

There are also other exemptions which are explained in the Home Office Guidance for nationals of Croatia on obtaining permission to work in the UK [PDF 193KB]

Those who fall into these exemptions are not subject to worker authorisation and are free to enter employment without restrictions. However, if you wish to you can apply for a blue registration certificate as confirmation of your right to take work without restriction, using form CRI, although this is not compulsory

Do I need to register to work as a self-employed person?

You can work freely as a self-employed person. There is guidance in paragraph 12 of the Home Office guidance [PDF 193KB] to help you determine whether you meet the definition of self-employed.

Although you are not required to apply for worker authorisation, you might decide to apply as it may be useful as confirmation that you are an EEA national exercising an EEA Treaty right as a self-employed individual.

If you are self-employed, you will need to be able to demonstrate that you are genuinely self-employed. You must register with HM Revenue & Customs as soon as you start self-employment, by telephoning their Self-Employment Helpline on 0845 915 4515. There is a penalty for late registration.

The QMUL Careers and Enterprise Centre has advice about starting a business in the UK.

How do I apply for worker authorisation?

It is advisable to apply well in advance, as it can take several months for the authorisation to be processed, and you cannot start work until you have received your worker authorisation. However, you can also use the premium service at a premium service centre.

As a student, you can apply to the Home Office for a Yellow Registration certificate to confirm your right to work in the UK. Apply on form CR1 which you can download.

The application costs £65 for a single applicant or £655 if you wish to use the premium service.

You will need to provide evidence of:

    • How you are funding your studies (the CR1 form explains what evidence is acceptable), and
    • Comprehensive sickness insurance (see below).


What is comprehensive sickness insurance?

In order to show that you have a right of residence in the UK as a student, you have to show that you have comprehensive sickness insurance. The UK government does not accept entitlement to the National Health Service as sufficient evidence of sickness insurance.

The CR1 form states that you can use the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), obtained outside the UK, as evidence, if you also send a letter confirming that you intend to stay in the UK on a temporary basis. If your stay is to be permanent, or if you don’t have an EHIC, you will need to obtain a private medical insurance policy.

How long will it take until I receive my worker authorisation?

The current UKVI service standard for applications is 6 months. However, it is possible to make an application in person at the Croydon visa premium service centre and receive a decision on the same day, if you take all of the required documents. However this costs £590 in addition to the standard £65 application fee.

When can I start work?

You must not work until your Yellow Registration Certificate has been issued, otherwise you would be working illegally. An exception to this is if you apply for worker authorisation while you still have valid Tier 4 Student immigration permission, in which case you can continue working while you wait for your Yellow Registration certificate but only until your Tier 4 /student immigration permission expires.

Once you have been working for a year as a yellow registration certificate holder, you may be able to apply for a blue registration certificate so that your access to the UK labour market and the number of hours you can work is unrestricted. Use form CR1 again to apply for this.


How many hours can I work?

The Yellow Registration certificate will contain an endorsement confirming that you are an EEA national exercising an EEA Treaty right as a student and have permission to work for up to 20 hours a week during term time and for an unrestricted period during vacations and as part of a vocational training course. If you are an undergraduate, your vacations will be the standard Christmas, Easter and summer vacations that apply to your programme. If you are studying on a taught post-graduate programme, your vacations will usually be just at Christmas and Easter. If you are a postgraduate research student your vacations will be agreed with your supervisor, and are normally for six weeks a year.

Can my family members come to live with me in the UK?

This is explained on the website.

Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

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