UCL News


Reminder of restrictions on the employment of students with a Tier 4 visa

27 July 2016

A recent investigation of a London Higher Education employer by United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) found a number of graduate and PhD students had exceeded the maximum hours they were entitled to work stipulated by their Tier 4 visa.

UCL Quad One case involved them exceeding the limit by only 15 minutes, yet this resulted in the employer being heavily fined and subject to a rigorous audit of their whole employee and student base.

UCL has a number of measures in place to manage the employment of students on Tier 4 visas, and UCL policy restricts the number of hours they may work in order to comply with the terms of their visa. Breaching this policy will be regarded as a disciplinary offence.

If you are a manager engaging a student to undertake work at UCL, you have a legal requirement to check their right to work in the UK prior to them commencing any work. If you identify that they have a Tier 4 student visa, you must ensure that you adhere strictly to the conditions set out in the student's visa when you engage them. You should also be asking whether they are working elsewhere because this may restrict the number of hours for which you may engage them.

To support its policy and assist managers and recruiters at UCL, detailed right to work guidance and an FAQ factsheet are published on the UCL HR webpages. The following are a short reminder of engaging students on Tier 4 visas:
·        Most undergraduate and graduate students must not work in excess of 20 hours in any week during their designated term time (a copy of which you must keep and submit), but they can work full-time outside of their term time
·        Non-taught students undertaking a PhD or Master's degree may only work a maximum of 20 hours in any week and never full time
·        Students studying a course below degree level who are permitted to work must not work in excess of 10 hours in any week during term time with full-time work allowed during vacation time
.        Students studying a course below degree level outside a higher education institution will generally not be allowed to work at all if their permission to stay was granted after 2 August 2015
·        The 10 or 20-hour weekly maximum includes all employments at UCL or elsewhere and you therefore need to be aware of the student's overall employment commitments at the university.

If any student is found to have exceeded the work hours set by their visa, UCL must declare this to UKVI and could be liable to a fine of £20,000 per case. This could also seriously undermine our future ability to register overseas students at UCL. UCL will regard any breach of its immigration policy with the utmost seriousness. The cost of the payment of any fines will be borne by the department in which the breach is found to have occurred. Staff who are found to have committed a breach will have prima facie committed a disciplinary offence, which could lead to their dismissal.

If you are in any doubt when recruiting to a position, please contact your HR Business Partner first and read the guidance on the UCL HR webpages.