With the summer holidays fast approaching, businesses may
see an increase in the number of job applications received from
Employing international students may be an attractive prospect,
having proven their independence by moving abroad in their late
teens in addition to speaking multiple languages, but there are
restrictions on hiring students from outside the EEA which
employers need to be aware of in order to comply with immigration
Non EEA students studying for a qualification below degree level
or at an educational establishment which is not a registered
sponsor are unlikely to be able to undertake any work.
There are no working restrictions on students from EEA
It is essential that employers undertake appropriate checks to
establish the right of any prospective employee to work in
the UK before an offer of employment is made. For UK and EEA
employees this may amount to checking and retaining copies of their
original passport or national identity card. For non EEA students
it will in addition be necessary to establish which visa the
student holds and any restrictions on that visa which may affect
their right to work in the UK.
UK Visas and Immigration have intensified their focus on the
employment of international students and are increasingly issuing
enforcement letters to employers breaching immigration law. The
penalties for employing illegal workers, where visas have expired
or students work more hours than they are permitted to, include a
fine of up to Ł20,000 per illegal workers. Employers who
knowingly (as opposed to negligently) employ illegal workers can be
subject to an unlimited fine and up to 2 years' imprisonment.
There is also a reputational risk with employers being named and
shamed for breaches of immigration law.
In order to minimise the risk of penalties arising, employers
should ensure that appropriate right to work checks are undertaken
and copies of the documents relied upon to offer employment are
retained. It is also essential that employers have authentic
documentation which sets out the relevant term time dates of
students to ensure that they are working within the scope of any
visa restrictions. Some employers have been caught out by averaging
students' hours out over a monthly period. This is not
permitted under the immigration rules. During term time a non EEA
student is unlikely to be entitled to work more than 20 hours in
The material contained in this article is of the nature of
general comment only and does not give advice on any particular
matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information
in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice
upon their own particular circumstances.
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