Home Office Update: Employer’s Right to Work Checks

The Home Office has recently published a new guidance note on what a biometric residence permit (BRP) is, what it can be used for, and how employers can check that prospective employees have a right to work in the UK. The new guidance note is aimed at UK visa applicants, employers and their sponsors and it explains how the changes to BRPs affect the responsibility of employers to prevent illegal working and how an employer should carry out right to work checks.

Employer and Sponsors’ Responsibility to Prevent Illegal Working

If you are an employer and your employee wishes to start work upon their arrival in the UK (i.e within 10 days), they will need to show you the vignette in their passport which they used to travel to the UK. You will then need to conduct a full right to work check on the basis of this vignette, which must be valid at the time of the check. However, as the vignette will expire 30 days from issue, you will have to repeat the check using the BRP to ensure that you have carried out the relevant check.

Under UK’s current Immigration Rules, an employer may be liable for a civil penalty if they employ someone who does not have the right to undertake the work in question. The Home Office expect employers to take their duty to prevent illegal working in the UK seriously and require employers to carry out prescribed document checks on people before employing them to ensure that they are lawfully allowed to work. These checks should be repeated in respect of those who have time-limited permission to work in the UK.

How does the BRP affect Employers and Sponsors Checks?

Employers must ensure they take reasonable steps to check any documents presented by potential employees including the following;

  • Look at the permit carefully to ensure it has not been tampered with and is in good condition;
  • Check the permit number to ensure it starts with 2 letters and is followed by numbers and look carefully to make sure that the permit number is not raised;
  • Check that the holder’s image matches the person presenting it ;
  • Check the features at the back which has a raised design incorporating the four national flowers of the UK;
  • Shine a light across the permit which will enable you to see some of the intricate designs at the back ;
  • Feel the permit for the raised design by running your finger over it;
  • Make sure the permit is not bent and has not been folded previously;
  • Check the biographical details match the details of the person presenting it to you;
  • Check the holder’s immigration conditions. These are shown on both the front and the back of the permit. For example it might confirm that an individual has no right to work or can only work a limited number of hours per week.

UK Immigration Compliance Solicitors

Under section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, an employer may be liable for a civil penalty if they employ someone who does not have the right to undertake the work in question.

UK Businesses must ensure that they have the appropriate checks in place, can demonstrate that they will be able to meet their employers’ duties and have the appropriate records for their skilled workers. The Home Office carry out spontaneous checks on organisations on a regular basis and on such visits will expect to examine those areas of Human Resources and procedures which are outlined in their guidance. They will also verify the information provided by employer’s on their application for obtaining the sponsorship licence.

Immigration Legal Advice for UK Employers & Illegal Workers

If you are a UK business or an employer and wish to obtain a Sponsor Licence, contact us to discuss this further. Business owners sponsoring migrants from outside the EEA must ensure that they are legally registered to sponsor migrants and must have a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. If the Home Office has contacted you in relation to carrying out a compliance visit at your business premises or if you have been issued with a civil penalty, contact us for legal advice.

Illegal migrants with strong Human Rights arguments ought to take legal advice and regularise their stay in the UK as soon as possible and before it is too late. Contact us to discuss your immigration situation and we will assess your case and provide you with options of regularising your stay.

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