Sponsors will be aware that international students on Tier 4 visas have a variety of work rights/or sometimes no work rights. Therefore, it is imperative not only to check the type of visa that an international student has, but also if they are allowed to work in the UK and, if so, the restrictions that are placed on their leave. Students studying a degree level course or above at a UK university will in most cases have 20 hours work rights during term time and be allowed to work full time during recognised semester breaks.

We have seen an increase in audits and enforcement letters being received by sponsors who are employing Tier 4 students but have not had the correct processes in place to ensure that the hours these students are working are in line with their leave. In particular, the UKVI is looking to see not only how many hours the students have worked, but the process that is in place to ensure that students are not rostered on to undertake more hours than they are allowed to work. Some sponsors have been looking at averages when calculating hours worked per week. However, this is not allowed and sponsors must ensure that the hours worked on a weekly basis are not exceeded.

As a reminder, unless the individual has already submitted an in-time leave to remain application to be sponsored under Tier 2, and has met the specific requirements for doing so, Tier 4 students must not fill a permanent full time vacancy while they are staying in the UK as a Tier 4 student, even if this is undertaken during their semester break or at the end of their studies. Caution must also be exercised when Tier 4 students are required to work as part of their studies. Again, checks should be undertaken to verify if the work placement is an assessed part of their course, and if so, the necessary information confirming this should be kept on file.

Given the UKVI’s focus on students working in breach of their visa conditions, we recommend that all sponsors review their own processes in relation to dealing with international students to make sure that the additional documents for the right to work check are being obtained and that their hours are being monitored.