Employing migrant workers


Case Study: UKCOSA

UKCOSA - this will open in a new window



Not for profit: charity


UKCOSA: The Council for International Education, provides advice and information to international students studying in the UK and to staff who work with them. All UK universities and most colleges of further and higher education with international students are members of UKCOSA, which also receives funding from the UK Government's Department for Education and Skills. Information and advice to students is free.

Business reason for employing migrant workers

Because of UKCOSA's remit to advise international students about life, study and work in the UK, it felt that its customer service would be enhanced by the recruitment of an international student to the staff. It is also guided by an equal opportunities policy.

This has resulted in UKCOSA gaining valuable insights into student issues from a student perspective. In turn, this has had a positive impact on its service development.


The worker that UKCOSA wanted to employ was an international student (national of non-EEA country) with an employment restriction. The passport stamp stated:

"Leave to enter the United Kingdom on condition that the holder ... does not enter ... employment paid or unpaid without the consent of the Secretary of State for Employment ..."

This wording on his visa which, to the layman, suggested that he ought to have special personal permission to work in the UK raised questions which may have put some employers off. On checking, however, it transpired that this constitutes an employment "restriction" not an employment "prohibition" under the law. An international student who does not have a work prohibition, is deemed to have the Secretary of State's permission to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and unlimited hours during vacation periods.

Also, the spelling of the employee's name on his passport was slightly different to the spelling that he provided, also raised questions and could have put off an employer without an immigration advice team.

These initial doubts were fortunately removed following enquiries and the international student worked with us because:
  • he fulfilled the person specification fully
  • with his skills and positive attitude he provided the organisation with support at an excellent standard beyond what was initially required
  • there were no formalities to complete with any government departments or offices


The employee was unable to obtain a National Insurance number (NI no) before starting the job, which does put many employers off. But it is perfectly lawful to employ someone who is still in the initial stages of applying for a NI no.

Contact details

Duncan Lane
Tel:020 7288 4337
Email: Duncan@ukcosa.org.uk
Website: www.ukcosa.org.uk


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