Home Immigration for People Right to Work Documents: A Guide for Candidates

Right to Work Documents: A Guide for Candidates

Anyone seeking to be lawfully employed in Britain, regardless of nationality, residency status, age or race, will need to evidence they are legally permitted to work in the UK. This means presenting valid and acceptable right to work documents to prospective employers before you can commence employment.

UK employers are required by law to carry out the prescribed right to work document checks prior to any candidate starting employment. To carry out the right to work check, a prospective employer will ask you to provide acceptable forms of right to work documents. The documents you will need to provide will be determined by your current status in the UK and whether you need to present documents from the Home Office’s List A and List B of acceptable documents that confirm lawful working status.

If your right to work is time-limited, you will be required to evidence your continued lawful working status through additional follow-up document checks which your employer is required to undertake.

In the event that you are unable to produce appropriate documentation, except in limited circumstances, you will be precluded from working lawfully in the UK. Moreover, in the event that you undertake employment in the absence of valid documentation or through use of fraudulent documentation, you risk severe penalties. Your employer is also likely to face Home Office action for failing to meet its compliance duties.

Below we set out a guide to the right to work documents you need to present to prove your eligibility to work in the UK.

What are acceptable right to work documents?

Home Office approved right to work documents fall into two categories: List A and List B.

LIST A – these documents are evidence that you have a permanent and unrestricted right to work in the UK:

  • a passport showing that you are a British citizen or a citizen of the UK and Colonies having the right of abode in the UK.
  • a passport or national identity card showing that you are a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  • a Registration Certificate or Document Certifying Permanent Residence issued to you by the Home Office as a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  • a Permanent Residence Card issued to you by the Home Office as the family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  • a current Biometric Immigration Document (Biometric Residence Permit) issued by the Home Office indicating that you are allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, or have no time limit on your stay in the UK.
  • a current passport endorsed to show that you are exempt from immigration control, allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, have the right of abode in the UK, or have no time limit on your stay in the UK.
  • a current Immigration Status Document issued to you by the Home Office with an endorsement indicating that you are allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK or have no time limit on your stay in the UK – together with an official document giving your permanent National Insurance number and name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.
  • a full birth or adoption certificate issued in the UK which includes the name(s) of at least one of your parents or adoptive parents – together with an official document giving your permanent National Insurance number and name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.
  • a birth or adoption certificate issued in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland – together with an official document giving your permanent National Insurance number and your name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.
  • a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen – together with an official document giving your permanent National Insurance number and your name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.

LIST B – these documents are evidence of a temporary or restricted right to work in the UK. These are further divided into two groups to determine the point at which your new employer will be required to recheck your ‘right to work in the UK documents’ because you only have time-limited permission to work in the UK or to undertake the work on offer.

Group 1:

  • a current passport endorsed to show that you are allowed to stay in the UK and are currently allowed to do the type of work in question.
  • a current Biometric Immigration Document (Biometric Residence Permit) issued to you by the Home Office which indicates that you can currently stay in the UK and are allowed to do the work in question.
  • a current Residence Card (including an Accession Residence Card or a Derivative Residence Card) issued to you by the Home Office as a non-European Economic Area national who is a family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland or who has a derivative right of residence.
  • a current Immigration Status Document containing a photograph issued to you by the Home Office with a valid endorsement indicating that you may stay in the UK, and are allowed to do the type of work in question, together with an official document giving your permanent National Insurance number and your name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.

In circumstances where you have produced proof of your right to work from Group 1, your employer will need to recheck your ‘right to work in the UK documents’ upon expiry of the date of leave.

Group 2:

  • a Certificate of Application issued to you by the Home Office as a family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland stating that you are permitted to take employment which is less than 6 months old – together with a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office Employer Checking Service.
  • an Application Registration Card issued by the Home Office stating that you are permitted to take the employment in question – together with a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office Employer Checking Service.
  • a Positive Verification Notice issued by the Home Office Employer Checking Service to the employer or prospective employer, which indicates that you may stay in the UK and are permitted to do the work in question.

In circumstances where your employer has contacted the Home Office Employer Checking Service to verify your right to work and obtained a Positive Verification Notice, your employer will need to recheck your ‘right to work in the UK documents’ six months from the date set out in that notice. Further explanation as to when your potential employer can obtain a Positive Verification Notice to verify your right to work is set out below.

What if I am unable to produce the relevant documents at the time?

There are limited circumstances in which a prospective employer may still be able to offer you employment, even though you are unable to produce the relevant right to work documents at that time. In the following instances a prospective employer can contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service to verify your right to work:

  • you are able to produce a Certificate of Application which is less than six months old and which indicates that work is permitted.
  • you are able to produce an Application Registration Card stating that you are permitted to undertake the work in question.
  • you have submitted an application to extend or vary your permission to be in the UK prior to the date on which permission expired, or have an appeal or administrative review pending a decision.

Subject to Home Office approval, the employer will be provided with a ‘Positive Verification Notice’ to confirm your right to work in the UK and to undertake the work on offer. Your employer will be obliged, however, to repeat the right to work check after six months. If, however, your prospective employer receives a Negative Verification Notice from the Home Office, you will be precluded from legally working in the UK.

What is the process for checking my ‘right to work in the UK documents’?

A prospective employer will ask you to provide one or more documents from either List A or B (additional rules apply to student workers). You will need to provide that employer with the original documents so that s/he can check the validity of those documents in your presence. The employer will make a copy of any documentation to be retained for their records.

When checking the validity of the documents, a prospective employer will seek to ensure that:

  • the documents are genuine, original and have not been tampered with.
  • you are the rightful holder.
  • the photographs and dates of birth are consistent across documents and with your appearance.
  • the expiry dates for permission to be in the UK have not passed and any work restrictions still permit the type of work, including any limit on the number of hours you are allowed to work.
  • there is an explanation for any difference in names across documents – the prospective employer may seek further documentation to explain any differences, eg, an original marriage certificate or divorce decree.

Why are ‘right to work in the UK documents’ necessary?

In circumstances where you are unable to provide suitable proof of your right to work in the UK, or to undertake the work on offer – save except where you have an immigration application or appeal pending with the Home Office – you will be precluded from legally working in the UK.

It is a criminal offence to work illegally in the UK, ie; without the correct right to work in the UK documents. You will be guilty of an offence if you undertake work at a time when you know, or have reasonable cause to believe, that you are disqualified from working by reason of your immigration status.

On conviction the offence carries a maximum term of imprisonment of up to six months or a fine, or both. The maximum term of imprisonment is also likely to increase in the future to up to 51 weeks. Further, any earnings arising out you working illegally may be seized.

Should I seek legal advice about ‘right to work in the UK documents’?

The law relating to right to work can be complex. Further, failing to provide suitable proof of your right to work in the UK, or working illegally, can have serious and life-changing consequences for you and your family – not least by way of criminal sanction.

Securing expert legal advice from an experienced immigration specialist can help you to avoid falling foul of the law. Your legal adviser can help with all aspects of right to work document compliance, including any immigration application or appeal to the Home Office to enable you to legally undertake work in the UK.

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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