Do your overseas lecturers
hold the right visa?

Businesses who invite foreign specialists to visit to attend meetings or give speeches may be unwittingly in breach of Home Office regulations.

That is the concern from the Human Resources department at York University, who have requested that staff check whether overseas visitors have the correct visa.

Earlier this month, an email was sent by York’s compliance officer, Kari Methven, asking sponsors of foreign nationals to give details of their guests’ identity, where they have come from and the purpose of their trip, such as deliver a lecture.

The academics must also answer whether the visitors are receiving payment, even if it is just expenses.

Ms Methven said: “Our legal obligation as an employer and sponsor is to ensure that all work carried out on our behalf is done so by a person who has the right to do the work, whether this is on a paid or unpaid basis.’

This could mean that all companies who regularly host speakers or researchers, not just educational establishments, may be under the same scrutiny.

One York University staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, described the email as ‘problematic’.

‘People who visit us tend to be doing us a favour rather than the other way round,’ he told the Times Educational Supplement. ‘They come to talk to students, or to us, and ironically they are not getting paid – it’s out of goodwill.

‘So the idea that we need to monitor this so we can report to the Home Office is worrying. It’s a slippery slope.”

Christian Dustmann, director of the Centre for Research and Analysis on Migration, agreed.

‘I think it is very unfortunate that academics are put in a position of proxy border guards to implement such systems, particularly as higher education is such an important part of our exports,’ he said.

York has an intake of nearly 17,000 students, only 2,770 of which are international. They contribute a quarter of the total amount of fees – £40.3m – that are received by the university each year. Official figures show that very few students choose to stay in the UK after their visa expires.

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