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European Economic Area and Swiss students: the rules about working

European Economic Area and Swiss students: the rules about working

Your right to work will be different according to the type of UK immigration permission you have.

It is essential that you understand how your immigration permission might affect your right to work in the UK so that you do not break any conditions of your stay. Please check the option which applies to you below: 

You have been granted Pre-Settled or Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or you have the right to apply for it by the deadline of 30th June 2021 because you were living in the UK by 31st December 2020. 

You can work legally in the UK with no restriction on the number of hours or type of work you are allowed to do.  

You have been granted Student immigration permission because you moved to the UK after 31st December 2020.

EU/EEA and Swiss nationals who move to the UK after 31st December 2020 will usually need to apply for Student immigration permission. Your right to work is then restricted and we explain what those restrictions are in the International Students section of this guide. It is essential that you understand those restrictions as breaching them means you are in breach of your immigration permission which has serious consequences. 

You are in the UK with Visitor immigration permission because you moved to the UK after 31st December 2020 and are studying on a course of less than 6 months

If you have come to the UK as a Visitor, you cannot work, either paid or unpaid. However you can undertake genuine volunteering, which has a specific definition different to unpaid work.  

The rules for Visitors state:

  • the volunteering lasts no more than 30 days in total and;
  • it is for a charity that is registered with the Charity Commission.

Please note this is not the same as voluntary work which is not permitted.

The Home Office guidance differentiates between volunteering which is allowed and voluntary work which is not:

Voluntary workers:

  • often have a contract with their employer (this means the employer must provide the work and the voluntary worker must attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks)
  • are also usually remunerated in kind


  • do not have a contract of employment
  • must not take the place of an employee
  • must not receive payment in kind but reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence expenses is allowed
  • support a charity or voluntary or public sector organisation, but must not be undertaking work ancillary to the organisation’s charitable purpose including, for example, routine back office administrative roles, retail or other sales roles, fund-raising roles and roles involved in the maintenance of the organisation

If you do not have permission to work, and you work, (paid or unpaid), you are committing a criminal offence. The immigration authorities treat work restrictions very seriously. They can refuse your immigration application, or remove you from the UK, if you work too many hours or if you do work which you are not allowed to do. You might also be barred from returning to the UK for a certain period. 

Employer Checks

Employers have a legal obligation to check whether EU, EEA and Swiss citizens have a right to work in the UK where the employment starts on or after 1 July 2021. Employers are not required to retrospectively check the status of people they employed before 1 July 2021. 

Once you have been granted Pre-Settled or Settled Status, or applied for your visa and used the UK Immigration ID Check to scan your identity document onto your phone, you will be able to access a share code online which you can show to employers as evidence of your status in the UK. Employers will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards as valid proof of right-to-work, except for Irish citizens. The webpages explain what landlords need to check.

For more general information about the EU Settlement Scheme and for advice about Fees and Funding, please refer to the guidance on our webpages.



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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