An update from Emma Bagshaw, Consultant Senior Solicitor at Seabury Legal Ltd, on further changes to the process employers must take to ensure their employees have the right to work in the UK.
From 6 April 2022, there have been more big changes to the way that right to work checks are carried out. The two changes are:
- 3 categories of visa documents have been removed from the manual check; and
- The extension of adjusted virtual checks to 30 September 2022
Extension of online right to work checking process
The Home Office is making it easier for employers to check identity documents by extending the availability of the online right to work process. This also means that several documents can no longer be checked manually from today (6th April 2022). By using the online process, employers will have access to up-to-date visa information and be able to find all the information on visa restrictions in one place.
What's changing - key points
- From 6th April 2022, employers are no longer able to manually check a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or Biometric Residence Card (BRC). Where a candidate or existing colleague provides these documents, the employer must instead ask for a 'share code' to allow them to complete an online check.
- Employers cannot accept a Frontier Worker Permit.
- A British Citizen passport cannot be used by an individual listed as the 'child of the holder'.
- There are a few minor updates to the guide, for example around changes in terminology and the production of share codes. For example, share codes must be generated by the employee/candidate with the letter 'W' to enable a right to work check to be carried out.
- The changes are not retrospectively applied. Only RTW checks occurring on or after 6th April 2022 will be affected.
What are biometric Residence Permits and Biometric Residence Cards?
These documents are credit card sized plastic cards that hold information on the individual's visa and their biometric information for example a Student visa or a Spouse visa. Many people are now only issued a virtual eVisa and can only prove their immigration status online.
Is the information provided online the same as that shown on a physical Biometric Residence Permit?
Yes, the same information will be presented using the online Home Office system.
What about Student Visa holders?
Employers can no loner accept a physical Biometric Residence Permit stating 'Student' or 'Tier 4 Student' visa. Instead, employers will complete an online check using a 'share code'. In the same way as the old manual check, employers must obtain term dates for the individual from their university website, or confirmation of their graduation/course completion. These dates must be collected annually for the length of the visa.
Sometimes, employers may find a Student visa in a passport which has been issued for 30 days. These visas are issued to individuals applying for their visa abroad and allow entry into the UK before collecting their Biometric Residence Permit. You can use List B to check the passport endorsement but you will need to re-check before expiry using an online check.
What is a Frontier Worker Permit?
This is a visa issued to EEA citizens not resident in the UK but working here intermittently since before December 2020. This document can no longer be checked manually.
What will happen if our Society accepts a physical Biometric Residence Permit or Card?
In the unlikely (though possible) case the individual was working illegally, the organisation could be fined up to £20,000.
What should we do now?
- Update processes and manager guidance
- Clearly communicate to managers that they must not check Biometric Residence Permits, Biometric Residence Cards and Frontier Work Permits manually.
- Make sure those with responsibility for making RTW checks understand how to complete an online check and who can/cannot work for the business.
- Ensure all confirmations downloaded from the Home Office website are kept securely. These should be accessible for employment + 2 years. Don’t store them in office drawers!
Extension of temporary adjustments to Right to Work process due to Covid-19
Prior to 2020, only original documents could be accepted as evidence of a candidate's right to work in the UK. Due to lockdowns and mandatory working from home, this became impossible. Instead, employers are currently permitted to accept copy documents, provided these are authenticated with a video call.
The adjusted process was due to end in April this year, however, the Home Office has announced a further extension to 30 September 2022. The reason for the extension is 'positive feedback' on the Home Office's announcement that employers can use third party ID providers to digitally check British and Irish passports. The extension will allow employers to develop commercial relationships with ID providers and/or make any necessary changes to their RTW processes.
What if we need further help?
Please contact our advice team if you need help with right to work checks.