A new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 1078) was laid before Parliament on 16 March 2017.
This includes a definition of a “week” as meaning a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday. This is relevant to employers generally and to Tier 4 sponsors in terms of the number of hours per week that sponsored students are permitted to work and in terms of compliance with their conditions of stay.
Tier 4 sponsors may need to update the information they provide to international students to ensure that this is clear to them. A student who has leave to remain in the UK under Tier 4 and who works more than their permitted hours, not only risks being accused of breaching the conditions of their stay, but also of committing a criminal offence under section 24B of the Immigration Act 1971 (as introduced by the Immigration Act 2016 in July 2016). Many international students come from countries that take a more relaxed approach to rules than the UK does and simply may not appreciate how seriously the Home Office views working in breach. They may not work that extra couple of hours if the rules are made clear to them.
An offence committed under section 24B of the Immigration Act 1971 is also a lifestyle offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, meaning that income gained from work that is not permitted could potentially be seized by the authorities. This could, in very serious cases, become relevant when institutions are considering how fees are paid and they may therefore wish to review their relevant POCA/money laundering related polices.
During a Tier 4 audit, UKVI (via the HEAT team if auditing a university) will check attendance records for students with a view to understanding the measures an institution takes to reduce the risk that sponsored students may be working in breach of the conditions of their stay, when they should be attending class or otherwise engaging. We look at attendance monitoring later in this update.
Employers must ensure that any students they employ who are permitted to work for 10 or 20 hours a week during term-time do not work more than their permitted hours each week, commencing on the Monday.
If you require legal advice, please contact us.