Am I working legally?
April 18, 2011 5:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently a UK international student and I just found out about online writing services such as I've just earned my first $15 through the first article which I'd submitted, yay ! However, I'm concerned about the legalities of such activities.

Would this count as self-employment, which is not allowed by the Tier 4 student visa rule? Or is this kind of activity just considered as making extra pocket money? I know self-employment is not allowed according to the Tier 4 student visa rule, but I feel that Internet activities sort of fall into gray areas.

Is there any way for the UKBA to find out about my online activities anyway, if i just keep quiet about it? The payment is sent via paypal to my UK account twice a week. And to generalize the question, how about other online works such as eLance (previously rentacoder) and other such services? My master's is pretty important to me so I wouldn't mind stopping if this would jeopardize my student visa status. Thanks for replying!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak for the UK, but here in the states I believe you are considered a self-employed independent contractor, and they send you a 1099 for tax purposes at the end of the year - which means the IRS, at the very least, knows about it.

I personally wouldn't jeopardize my education, but again I'm not in the UK so YMMV. I would recommend thoroughly reading the fine print for any of these organizations that you're considering; they should clearly outline what they consider your employment status to be.
posted by SquidLips at 6:23 PM on April 18, 2011

Your university (or student union) should be able to offer impartial advice.
posted by Jehan at 6:26 PM on April 18, 2011

I can't speak for UK, or general, immigration law but you might want to be aware that demandstudios has been sketchy in the past and has its detractors
posted by Blasdelb at 6:27 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

IANAL. The work allowed under tier 4 is either voluntary (for no pay), or paid with a contract of employment, NI contributions, income tax assessments and so on. What you're doing is self-employed piecework unless are making tax contributions for you. Whether UKBA would ever find out is a different question, but in my opinion you are in breach of your visa conditions, yes.
posted by cromagnon at 11:27 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

At a quick glance, it looks like technically this would count as self-employment, which would not be allowed.

It's possible that this kind of thing is not what the legislation was really intending to treat as self-employment though, so it may be that digging further into the legislation or precedents would reveal a different interpretation.

Getting advice from your student union seems the best bet.

IANAL however.
posted by philipy at 10:53 AM on April 19, 2011

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