International Students

An additional document check is required for international students who hold a Tier 4 visa.

The check requires the University to obtain and retain evidence of a student's academic term and vacation dates for their course of study from the education institution at which the student studies (e.g. a printout from the student's education institution's website), in order to establish and retain an excuse (i.e. defence against illegal working) and to comply with a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) audit.

The semester dates for University of Sheffield students can be found here.

Please be aware that the vacation dates must be for the student's course of study.

Further information for international students working in the UK is available on the SSiD webpages.

All UK employers have a duty to prevent illegal migrants working in the UK. Sections 15–25 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (the `2006 Act´) set out the law on the prevention of illegal working.

Therefore, it is our statutory duty to check that a prospective employee has the correct eligibility to work in the UK in place BEFORE (i) the appointee commences employment or (ii) an extension to an existing appointment is issued. Failure to do so can lead to civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance.

Eligibility to work checks – Recruitment

In order to ensure that the University complies with its obligations under the 2006 Act, recruiting managers are required to undertake the following:

1. Interview stage

Request all invited candidates to provide suitable documentation (usually a valid passport) confirming their eligibility to work in the UK.


This ensures that we meet our statutory requirements by having seen evidence of all candidates´ eligibility to work in the UK prior to the successful candidate commencing employment at the University.

2. Identify a member of staff to undertake the ETW check

Each department should train sufficient numbers of staff to accommodate the department´s recruitment activity. Click here for a powerpoint briefing on Eligibility to Work (ETW). 

3. On the day of the interview/selection action, check the presented documentationof all interviewed candidates

Under the 2006 Act, an employer may have an excuse against liability for payment of a civil penalty by checking and copying original documents presented by a prospective or existing employee. If you are presented with a false travel document or visa, you will only be subject to legal action if it is reasonably apparent that the document is false, or if you knew that the document, or documents, were false and/or did not rightfully belong to the holder. If you are not certain that the documentation presented meets these criteria, then raise it with the candidate and seek advice from your HR Team.

In line with our commitment to equal opportunities, we check the eligibility of all shortlisted candidates. It would be inappropriate to presume that certain candidates may or may not have eligibility to work in the UK, e.g. due to appearance or name. Therefore, to ensure that we undertake our legislative requirements, and treat all candidates equally, recruiting departments must undertake checks for each candidate.

For further information on the University's policy on Equal Opportunities and diversity action can be found here.

The UKVI has also produced guidance on avoiding discrimination when performing checks, which can be accessed from the right hand link.

Important: If the candidate has an indefinite leave to remain (ILR) visa, it is only valid if it is in their valid passport or if their valid passport is accompanied by a BRP stating that they have ILR.

4. Carefully photocopy the required information following the relevant ETW checklist

When the candidate arrives for interview scan the passport, the page containing the applicants personal details and, if relevant the applicant´s current UK visa. The ETW check sign off sheet should be completed and used when scanning all documents. Full guidance on what to copy is provided within Checklist A and B, which are available from the right hand links. Please note that the UKVI state that all visas, including those for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) are required to be in a passport that has not expired.

The UKVI are rolling out more biometric information as proof of eligibility to work. It will appear in ID card format and should be copied in the same way as other identity cards and passports. Further information from the UKVI on biometric residence permits (BRPs) is available from the right hand links. The ETW check sign off sheet should also be used when scanning BRPs.

5. Complete relevant ETW Checklist A or B

6. If a candidate requires migrant worker approval to work in the UK, liaise with your HR Team prior to committing to securing this approval on behalf of the candidate.

If a candidate requires migrant worker approval to work in the UK, you must liaise with your HR Team as early as possible in the process to consider this. The employment of non-EEA nationals is a tightly legislated area enforced by the UKVI and subject to stringent control and measurement.

There is an annual limit on the number of non-EEA migrant workers who may enter the UK to work in skilled professions under Tier 2 (General) of the points-based system. In line with the government´s approach to limiting the entry of new migrant workers into the UK, to recruit from outside of the EEA we have to apply to the UKVI for a restricted certificate of sponsorship (CoS). It should be noted that applying for a restricted CoS may delay recruitment and selection timelines and that the success of an application cannot be guaranteed as the UKVI has final approval.

For further information see:  Statutory restrictions on the recruitment of a non-EEA national.

7. Retain and dispose of all copies of documentation securely

Treat the contents of all copies of documents in the strictest confidence and store them securely. Once an offer of appointment has been achieved, dispose of the documents securely e.g. shredding and disposing as confidential waste.

Process Flowchart


Eligibility to Work Checks – Essential Action Checklist

  • At invite to interview/selection action stage request all candidates to identify which form of supporting documentation tests they will present on the day they attend
  • Check documents for all interviewees in line with the action prescribed in Checklist A or B
  • Complete the ETW check sign off sheet.
  • Copy the interviewees´ documents in line with requirements. The ETW check sign off sheet should be used each time a document is scanned.
  • Contact HR to discuss options for candidates who do not currently have approval to work in the UK
  • Attach the copied documents of the recommended appointee to the Request To Appoint (RTA) in e-Recruitment
  • Destroy the copies of documents for unsuccessful applicants securely once the post has been filled