We support many educational organisations and individuals with their immigration matters. We regularly assist with navigating the law and finding solutions to mistakes that could have easily been avoided. With the difficulties in recruiting teachers for particular subjects and an increasing number of schools sponsoring overseas teachers to fill shortage roles, the impact of falling foul of immigration law can have severe consequences for not only the individual teacher, but also the organisation. Our Head of Immigration, Julie Moktadir, has explored some of these mistakes below and offered practical actions that schools and teachers can be taking now to help avoid potential immigration issues.

Expiry of the right to work in the UK

The law: Prior to the expiry of an individual’s visa, they may have the option to extend their existing leave. To do so they must submit an application prior to their leave expiring. If an employee’s right to work expires, employers must cease employment to avoid breaking immigration law. Continued employment can carry the risk of civil and criminal penalties, and if the employer is a sponsor, they may also lose their sponsorship licence, thus also jeopardising the right to work of any other sponsored workers.

The issue: Despite an individual submitting their application prior to the expiry of their leave, their right to work can be lost if their application is subsequently refused. Following a refusal, the individual may have the option of submitting a fresh application, allowing them to remain in the UK, however, this does not mean they still have the right to work in the UK whilst the fresh application is under consideration. Schools must therefore be aware when an employee has lost their right to work, to avoid potential illegal employment.

Solution: It is essential that schools carry out right to work checks correctly for all employees, with deadlines clearly diarised centrally so no time limited excuses are missed. There should also be clear communication with employees to ensure leave to remain has been applied for where appropriate and to ensure they confirm when a decision has been made.  Schools should further ensure that they carry out the necessary online right to work checks following an employee applying to extend their leave. 

Mistakes on application forms

The law:  It is essential that visa application forms are completed correctly to avoid refusals.

The issue: We have seen instances where individuals have either not completed essential information correctly or entered the wrong information without realising. For instance, when applying for a work visa, selecting that they work in the health and social care sector and therefore eligible for certain allowances when this is not the case. If incorrect information is entered and not corrected, an application could be refused if the legal requirements of that route are not met as a result.

Solution: Teachers must ensure that they complete their visa applications in good time, to allow potential mistakes to be picked up and corrected. Guidance should also be sought If there is any uncertainty on completing the form or providing supporting documentation.  

Eligible EU nationals not applying to the EUSS

The law: EU nationals who are resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 must apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme to remain in the UK following BREXIT. The deadline to apply in most cases is 30 June 2021.

The issue: Many EU nationals in the UK remain unaware of the requirement to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before the deadline. It is not yet clear what the consequences of not applying are however, a teacher’s ability to remain in the UK may be impacted if they fail to apply for the necessary status. 

Solution: We urge schools to ensure they communicate the need for EU nationals within their organisation to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before the deadline, to avoid potential work place shortages. Schools cannot force anyone to apply to the scheme but sending reminders and providing information could assist with protecting the immigration status of EU nationals within schools.

How Stone King can help

Stone King’s Immigration Team are experienced in all aspects of Immigration law, especially in the education sector. We are able to advise on specific immigration queries, deliver training, conduct audits of your organisation, act as a Level 1 User of your sponsorship licence and help with overseas recruitment including, completing the whole sponsorship process on your behalf.

If you would like further information, please contact JulieMoktadir@StoneKing.co.uk.