UK: Guidelines and Requirements for Internships

Unlock Your Path to Success: Discover UK Internships for Recent Graduates and Students

Are you a recent graduate or student seeking valuable internship opportunities in the United Kingdom? Piktalent is here to provide you with comprehensive information and guidance on the guidelines and requirements for internships in the UK.

Navigating the internship landscape can be overwhelming, with various factors to consider such as eligibility criteria, visa requirements, and industry-specific regulations. Our platform aims to simplify this process by offering a centralized resource where you can find all the essential information you need to kick-start your professional journey in the UK.

Compulsory Student Internships

Students who are required to undertake an internship for less than one year as part of a UK-based further or higher education course.

Graduate/Year-Long Internships

longer-term internships that often form part of a degree program. These internships usually last for a full academic year and allow students to gain in-depth experience within their chosen field.

NGO/Charity Internships

provide an opportunity to work for charitable organizations, NGOs, and social enterprises. These internships focus on making a positive impact and contributing to meaningful causes.

STEM Internships

to encourage careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Example: the STEM Ambassadors program connects professionals with young people, providing opportunities for mentorship and work experience.

Work Shadowing

involves observing a professional in their role to understand the day-to-day activities of that job. It provides a "shadow" with a snapshot of what it's like to work in a particular position, sector, or company.

Turing Scheme Internships

provide UK students and international students with valuable opportunities to gain practical work experience through funded placements abroad. Foster international collaboration, promote global mobility in an increasingly interconnected world.


Allow PikTalent to navigate the intricacies of the English job market, helping you uncover an ideal internship that harmonizes with your professional ambitions and aspirations. Check our range of available vacancies online.

Internships in UK: Eligibility Requirements

An intern’s rights in the UK are contingent upon their employment status. If an intern is categorised as a worker, they are typically entitled to the National Minimum Wage. The terms “internships”, “work placements”, and “work experience” don’t have a specific legal definition. The rights associated with these terms depend on the intern’s employment status, which can be:

  • A worker
  • A volunteer
  • An employee

If an intern undertakes regular paid work for an employer, they might be classified as an employee, making them eligible for specific employment rights.

Rights to the National Minimum Wage An intern is entitled to the National Minimum Wage if they are considered a worker. Employers cannot evade paying the National Minimum Wage by:

  • Declaring that it doesn’t apply.
  • Creating a written agreement stating someone isn’t a worker or is a volunteer.

Furthermore, if an intern is promised a future work contract, they are classified as a worker and are entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

Exceptions to the National Minimum Wage for Interns

  1. Student Internships.

  2. School Work Experience Placements.

  3. Voluntary Workers.

  4. Work Shadowing.

Internships in the UK: Eligibility Requirements for 2023

Eligibility requirements for internships in the UK can differ based on factors like the specific internship program, company policies, and immigration regulations. Here’s an overview:

  • UK Nationals: Citizens of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland typically have the right to work and participate in UK internships without additional immigration restrictions. They might need to meet other requirements set by the internship provider or educational institution.

  • EU/EEA Nationals: Due to changes in immigration regulations post-Brexit, EU/EEA nationals seeking internships in the UK should be informed of the alterations. The EU Settlement Scheme offers protection for those already living in the UK, while the points-based immigration system applies to newcomers. The Points-Based Immigration System now categorizes internships under the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) category. If you don’t qualify for the EU Settlement Scheme, you’ll need a valid visa for internships in the UK.

  • Non-EU Nationals: Individuals from countries outside the UK and the EU/EEA might also need a valid visa or work permit for UK internships. The specific visa required will depend on various factors, including the internship’s duration and the individual’s circumstances.

The Points-Based Immigration System: This system is pivotal for EU/EEA nationals arriving post-transition. Falling under the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) category, those without settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will need a valid visa for UK internships.

Requirements and Visa Process: To clinch a Tier 5 visa, you’ll have to tick certain boxes. This might encompass sponsorship by a licensed employer, meeting skill thresholds, and showcasing pertinent qualifications or experience. The process and criteria can vary, influenced by factors like internship duration and individual circumstances.

Rights to the National Minimum Wage: An intern’s entitlement to the National Minimum Wage is contingent on their classification as a worker. Employers cannot sidestep this obligation by claiming exemptions or crafting agreements that negate a worker’s status. Notably, students mandated to undertake an internship as part of a UK-based educational course (lasting less than a year) aren’t eligible for the National Minimum Wage.

Work Shadowing: If your internship revolves solely around observing an employee without any active participation (work shadowing), employers aren’t obligated to pay the minimum wage.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

  • Academic Qualifications: Some internships might necessitate enrolment in specific degree programs or completion of certain educational levels.
  • Language Proficiency: A robust command over English might be a prerequisite to ensure seamless communication.
  • Skills and Experience: Providers often scout for candidates equipped with skills or experience germane to the internship role.
For the most precise and current insights, always turn to authoritative sources like the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website. Additionally, immigration advisors, well-versed in UK immigration intricacies, can be invaluable allies in demystifying specific requirements and processes. 

English Student visas

Internship regulations for national and foreigner

English Working Visas

Job regulations for foreigners

Internships in UK: Guidelines

If you’re aspiring to secure an internship in the UK, it’s crucial to be well-informed about the latest regulations and best practices. Here are some invaluable tips to guide you:

1. Start Early: To enhance your chances of landing that dream internship, initiate your search at least six months prior to your preferred start date.

2. Harness Digital Platforms: Job portals remain a potent tool. Additionally, platforms like Piktalent can offer a plethora of opportunities.

3. Engage in Networking: Job fairs and professional networking events are golden opportunities to interact with potential employers and forge meaningful professional relationships.

4. Perfect Your Application: Your application should be comprehensive, including a compelling cover letter, a well-structured CV, and any relevant certificates or diplomas.

5. Understand Your Rights:

  • National Minimum Wage: If you’re classified as a worker, you’re typically entitled to the National Minimum Wage. Employers cannot sidestep this by merely stating it doesn’t apply or drafting an agreement suggesting you’re not a worker.
  • Promise of Future Work: If you’re promised a future work contract, you’re deemed a worker and are due the National Minimum Wage.
  • Exceptions: Students mandated to undertake an internship for less than a year as part of a UK-based higher education course aren’t entitled to the National Minimum Wage. Similarly, school work experience placements and certain voluntary roles also don’t qualify for this wage.

6. Patience is Key: The internship application process in the UK can be extensive. Stay patient and persistent.

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Considerations for Cultural Differences in UK

When pursuing an internship in the UK, it’s important to be mindful of the country’s cultural customs and traditions. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

Personal space

The British tend to value personal space, so it's important to respect boundaries and avoid standing too close to others.

Social etiquette

The UK has its own set of social norms and etiquette, such as the importance of queuing, using "please" and "thank you" frequently, and avoiding discussing topics like religion and politics.

Work-life balance

The British place a high value on work-life balance, so it's important to respect colleagues' personal time and not send work-related messages or emails outside of working hours.

Piktalent Services for UK

We can provide a range of services to make your internship experience unforgettable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Specific requirements for UK nationals to participate in internships can vary depending on the internship program, company policies, and educational institution offering the program. Here are some potential requirements that UK nationals may need to fulfill:

  1. Enrollment in a specific degree program: Some internships may be limited to students enrolled in a particular degree program. The internship provider may require proof of enrollment or a specific field of study.

  2. Academic requirements: Certain internships may have academic criteria, such as a minimum GPA or specific coursework, that applicants must meet to be eligible.

  3. Skills and experience: Internship positions may require specific skills or prior experience. UK nationals may need to demonstrate relevant skills, knowledge, or practical experience in the field to be considered for the internship.

  4. Application process: UK nationals typically need to complete the application process for the internship program, which may include submitting a resume/CV, cover letter, and possibly undergoing interviews or assessments.

  5. Company-specific requirements: Each company offering internships may have its own specific requirements or preferences. These could include language proficiency, specific certifications, or specialized skills related to the internship role.

It’s essential for UK nationals to carefully review the internship program’s official documentation, including eligibility criteria, application guidelines, and any specific requirements outlined by the internship provider. Additionally, it can be helpful to reach out to the program coordinators or contact the company directly for detailed information on the specific requirements for UK nationals to participate in their internships.

Yes, EU/EEA nationals can still participate in internships in the UK after Brexit. However, there have been changes to immigration regulations and new requirements in place. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Pre-Settled and Settled Status: EU/EEA nationals who were already living in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition period (31 December 2020) may be eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. This scheme grants individuals either pre-settled status (for those who have been in the UK for less than five years) or settled status (for those who have been in the UK for five years or more). With either status, individuals can continue to work and participate in internships in the UK.

  2. Work and Study Permits: For EU/EEA nationals who do not qualify for pre-settled or settled status, or for new arrivals after the transition period, different visa options are available to participate in internships in the UK. The specific visa required will depend on factors such as the duration of the internship and individual circumstances. The Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Visa is commonly used for work experience programs, including internships. Additionally, the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa allows students to undertake internships as part of their studies.

  3. Visa Requirements and Eligibility: EU/EEA nationals applying for work or study visas will need to meet specific requirements, such as having a confirmed internship placement, demonstrating sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay, and proving English language proficiency in some cases. Visa applications must be submitted through the official UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) system.

It is essential for EU/EEA nationals to consult official government sources or seek advice from immigration professionals to understand the current requirements and procedures for participating in internships in the UK. The rules and regulations may evolve over time, so staying informed and seeking up-to-date guidance is crucial to ensure compliance with the immigration requirements.

As of January 1, 2021, EU/EEA nationals generally need a visa or work permit for internships in the UK. The EU Settlement Scheme is available for those already in the UK by December 31, 2020. EU/EEA nationals can also consider the Short-term Student Visa or the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Visa, depending on their circumstances. It’s important to review the latest requirements from the UKVI and consult immigration advisors for accurate information.

As an EU citizen, the prerequisites for doing an internship in the UK after 2022 have changed due to the UK’s departure from the European Union. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. EU Settlement Scheme: If you were living in the UK before December 31, 2020, you can apply for settled or pre-settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme. This allows you to continue living, working, and studying in the UK, including participating in internships, without additional immigration restrictions.

  2. Points-Based Immigration System: For EU citizens arriving in the UK after the transition period, a points-based immigration system applies. To do an internship in the UK, you may need to obtain a valid visa under the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) category.

  3. Requirements for a Tier 5 Visa: To qualify for a Tier 5 visa, you’ll typically need a sponsor, such as a licensed employer, who can provide you with an internship opportunity. You may also need to meet specific skill level criteria and demonstrate relevant qualifications or experience.

It’s important to stay informed and refer to official government sources, such as the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website, for the most accurate and up-to-date information on the specific prerequisites and processes for doing an internship in the UK as an EU citizen. Additionally, seeking guidance from immigration advisors who specialize in UK immigration matters can provide valuable support and assistance in understanding the requirements and application procedures.

If you’re a non-EU citizen aspiring to pursue an internship in the UK, it’s essential to understand the specific requirements set by the UK government. This is a simplified overview of the key requirements;

  1. Visa Category: Non-EU citizens typically need to apply for a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) visa, specifically the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange subcategory. This visa is designed for individuals participating in work experience, internships, or research programs in the UK.

  2. Sponsorship: To be eligible for the Tier 5 visa, you must secure sponsorship from a licensed employer or a recognized sponsoring organization. They will issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), a unique reference number required for the visa application.

  3. Eligibility Criteria: To qualify for the Tier 5 visa, you’ll need a valid internship offer from a UK-based employer or organization. You must also demonstrate the necessary skills and qualifications for the internship. Proficiency in the English language is typically required.

  4. Financial Requirements: You must show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in the UK. The specific amount required may vary, so it’s important to consult the latest financial requirements set by the UK government.

  5. Health and Character Requirements: Depending on your country of residence, you may need to undergo a tuberculosis (TB) test and provide a certificate. It’s also crucial to meet the character requirements and have a clean criminal record.

Please note that immigration policies can change, and it is advisable to consult official government sources, such as the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website, for the most up-to-date and accurate information on the requirements for non-EU citizens pursuing internships in the UK. Additionally, seeking guidance from immigration advisors specializing in UK immigration matters can provide valuable assistance in understanding the specific requirements and processes for non-EU citizens pursuing internships in the UK.

Remember to consult reputable sources and seek professional advice to ensure you have the most accurate and current information relevant to your situation.

Yes, non-UE nationals can participate in internships in the UK. However, they may need to obtain a valid visa or work permit depending on their circumstances and the requirements of the internship. It’s important for non-UE nationals to consult the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) or seek guidance from immigration professionals for the specific visa requirements and processes.

Non-UE nationals participating in internships in the UK may need to obtain a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Visa or a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa, depending on the duration and nature of the internship. These visas allow non-UE nationals to legally work and gain valuable experience during their internship in the UK.

Internships in the UK can be either paid or unpaid, depending on various factors such as the nature of the internship, the industry, and the company’s policies. While some internships offer compensation, either in the form of a salary or a stipend, others may be unpaid, particularly in sectors like media, arts, or non-profit organizations. It’s important for interns to clarify the compensation details with the internship provider before accepting an opportunity.

The typical processing time for an internship application in the UK can vary depending on factors such as the internship provider, the volume of applications, and the efficiency of the selection process. On average, it may take several weeks to a couple of months for the application to be reviewed, shortlisted, and for a final decision to be communicated to the applicant. It’s advisable to submit the application well in advance and allow for sufficient processing time.

The possibility of extending your internship in the UK will depend on various factors, such as the type of visa or permit you have, the terms of your internship agreement, and the policies of your employer.

If you have a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorized Exchange) visa, which is commonly used for short-term work or study experiences like internships, you may be able to extend your stay in the UK for up to two years. However, you will need to meet certain requirements and apply for an extension before your current visa expires.

It’s important to note that extending your internship may also require approval from your employer and any relevant sponsoring organizations or institutions. You should also check the terms of your internship agreement to ensure that an extension is feasible and permitted.

If you have any questions or concerns about extending your internship in the UK, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer or contact the UK government’s immigration website for guidance.

The duration of internships in the UK can vary depending on the specific program, company, and industry. Generally, internships in the UK can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Some internships may be full-time and last for a few months, while others may be part-time and spread out over a longer period. The duration is often determined by the objectives of the internship and the agreement between the intern and the internship provider.

During a UK internship, you can expect to gain valuable practical experience in your chosen field, work alongside professionals, and contribute to real-world projects. You’ll have opportunities to develop skills, network with industry contacts, and gain insights into the UK work culture.

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