How to complete a right to work check

The right to work check procedure is a four-step process. A fifth step (conduct a repeat check) is only required in cases where the employee or casual worker holds a ‘List B’ document which provides time limited right to work in the UK and you wish to continue to employ/engage the person beyond the expiry date of their existing visa/ right to work document.

The University has produced a Right to Work Checklist for departments and colleges to use to ensure that all of the required checks are made when conducting an initial or repeat right to work check.

If you are unsure of whether someone has the right to work in the UK or have any other queries in relation to the issues detailed here to contact the Staff Immigration Team.

Right to work check process

Step 1: Obtain right to work document

As right to work checks must be completed before work commences best practice is, where possible, to carry out the checks at the interview stage. If checks have not been carried out at the interview stage a right to work check must be carried out before work starts or first thing on the first day, at the latest. Where a start date falls on a weekend or public holiday, and cannot be delayed as it has been specified by a funding organisation, for example, the check must be carried out before the first day.

The Home Office provides two lists of documents (List A and List B) which employers may accept as a person’s proof of right to work in the UK. It is only these documents that will provide suitable proof of right to work. You must not accept any other documents other than those listed by the Home Office in List A and List B.

List A documents (including British/EEA passports and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) visas) provide the holder with permanent and unrestricted right to work in the UK. This means that once the document from List A has been checked, copied and retained, you do not need to conduct any repeat checks on the employee/casual worker for the duration of their employment.

Please note that:

  • endorsements showing that the holder is exempt from immigration control, is allowed to stay indefinitely (ILR) in the UK, has the right of abode in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay in the UK can only be relied on if they are in a current passport*, however;
  • endorsements under EEA (European) immigration rules, such as a Permanent Residence Card, showing that the holder has no time limit on their stay in the UK can be relied on whether in a current or expired passport, as long as they are presented along with a current passport in the latter case.
* What if an endorsement is in an expired passport and cannot relied on as (List A) proof of right to work in the UK
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) - where someone has an expired passport endorsed to show that they are exempt from immigration control, is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay in the UK (whether in the form of a stamp or a visa) they will need to submit a No Time Limit (NTL) application to the Home Office to be issued with a BRP (plastic visa card) showing that they have Indefinite Leave to Remain/ No Time Limit on their stay in the UK.
  • Right of abode in the UK is only valid while the passport it is endorsed in is current, when the passport expires the holder will need to re-apply to the Home Office for a new certificate of entitlement to be issued in their new passport.

List B documents (including Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4, Tier 5, dependant visa holders) provide time limited and restricted right to work in the UK – the holder’s permission to work in the UK ends when their visa expires and some visas carry restrictions as to the number of hours the person can work and/or the type of work they can do. This means that you will need to conduct a repeat check before the expiry date of the visa if you wish to continue to employ the person (including casuals) beyond the expiry date of their existing visa/right to work document (see Step 5 for how to conduct a repeat check).

Please note that:

  • endorsements showing that the holder is allowed to stay in the UK and is currently allowed to do the type of work in question can only be relied on if they have not expired and are in a current passport, however:
  • endorsements under EEA (European) immigration rules, such as a Residence Card, Accession Residence Card, or Derivative Residence Card, showing the holder is allowed to stay in the UK and undertake employment can be relied on if they have not expired whether in a current or expired passport, as long as they are presented along with a current passport in the latter case.

Tier 4 student visa holders carry restrictions on the hours they can work, for full guidance see the additional requirements for employed student visa holders. Right to work checks for Tier 4 student visa holders includes a requirement to seek and retain evidence of term and vacation dates specific to the student’s course of study and a Tier 4 Student Employment Declaration (84kb) from the student to confirm that they are not employed anywhere else in excess of their permitted hours. Where a Tier 4 visa holder is applying to switch into Tier 2 they are permitted to start work during their application for a Tier 2 visa. See Switching from a Tier 4 visa into Tier 2 General for additional information.

Departments and colleges must hold an up to date list of all List B document holders (including casuals) including type of visa and visa expiry dates.

If the employee/ casual worker cannot provide original documents as they have applied for a visa but this has not yet been issued by the Home Office (and therefore you cannot complete a repeat RTW check):

  1. Seek and retain proof that a visa application was submitted to the Home Office before their previous visa expired. Acceptable proof includes a Home Office acknowledgement letter or proof of postage where it is clear that an application was sent to the Home Office.
  2. Contact the Home Office’s Employers Checking Service  to confirm that an application was received and that they have the right to work in the UK. You will need to complete an interactive online form and will therefore need to have the following information ready:
    • The employee's full name
    • Their date of birth
    • Their nationality
    • The job title
    • The hours worked per week
    • Their home address
    • Their Home Office reference number or case ID (if they have either)
    • The business name
    • The business type
    • The business contact information
  3. Within five working days of submitting a request to the Employer’s Checking Service, the Home Office will respond to verify whether they have received an application and whether they have the right to work in the UK. A Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office is valid for six months. Employment cannot commence until a Positive Verification Notice has been received.
  4. During the six months validity of the Positive Verification Notice, you should keep in regular contact with the applicant to check when they have received their visa and complete a RTW check using their new visa once it has been received.

If, during any of the stages above you find that an employee’s visa application has been rejected or the Employers Checking Service cannot confirm that an application was received, please contact the Staff Immigration Team immediately.

Multiple appointments/engagements

If a List A document holder wishes to take additional work, a new contract or a casual assignment in the same department/college, the department/college may rely on their original check as proof of right to work in the UK provided that the original right to work documentation has been retained.

If a List B document holder wishes to take additional work, a new contract or a casual assignment, a new right to work check must be conducted, even if the new work or assignment is in the same department/college as the job for which the employee/casual worker was originally/previously recruited. This is because some visas carry specific restrictions on type of work and hours permitted and further checks need to be made to ensure any new employment does not breach visa conditions.  

When conducting an initial or repeat right to work check, you must see the employee/casual worker in person*, and they must present original documents to you – photocopies are not acceptable.

* Right to work for remote workers

Those who work remotely from within the UK and cannot attend Oxford to present their right to work may send their original proof of right to work (such as their passport) to the department/college in Oxford. The department/college must then contact the worker via video link (such as Skype) to complete the right to work check in the presence of the document holder (ensure the document is genuine, photographs are consistent with the appearance of the person on screen etc.) before copying the document as necessary and returning the originals to the holder.

The person carrying out the right to work check must physically check the original document(s) that have been sent to them and the Home Office specifically state that documents cannot be checked via a video link nor can faxed or scanned copies of documents be accepted.

Please note that this is not recommended except in exceptional circumstances and many passport holders will not wish to send their documents to us.

The Home Office has published a guidance document which gives illustrations of some of the documents in List A and List B which you may find useful.  

Step 2: Check right to work document

The Home Office requires that employer’s make the following checks on documents presented by an employee/casual worker as proof of their right to work in the UK:

  • The document appears genuine and belongs to the holder – employers are not expected to be expert in recognising fraudulent documents but they are expected to reject a document that is “reasonably apparent” that the document is not genuine and/or does not belong to the holder.
  • Photographs and dates of birth are consistent – photographs and dates of birth must be consistent across documents (where multiple documents are presented) and must be consistent with the appearance of the employee/casual worker.
  • Visas are in date and permit the work in question – certain visas (e.g. Tier 2, Tier 5 and Tier 4) carry restrictions on what work the holder can do and/or the hours they are permitted to work. The visa usually clearly states any conditions/restrictions. Contact the Staff Immigration Team  if you are unsure.
  • Difference in name across documents – you must seek further documentation (such as a marriage certificate, decree absolute etc.) to explain any difference in name across documents. You must see original documentation and retain a copy of file to explain the reason for the difference in names.


Step 3: Copy and retain the right to work document

Documents must be copied in their entirety (including both sides if information is contained on both sides) except where a passport is presented, in which case any pages containing a photo, expiry date of the document, nationality, date of birth, signature, UK visas and biometric details must be copied.

As the Home Office no longer accept a simple date on a copy of a right to work document as evidence of the date upon which the right to work check was made, the following declaration must be included on copies of right to work documents as evidence of the date the check was made:

The date on which this right to work check was made [insert date]”

You must add this declaration, along with your name (legibly) and your signature, to the copies and retain them securely and in a format that cannot be altered (such as photocopy or CD/R) for the duration of the employment/ engagement and for a further two years after the employment/engagement ends (except for Tier 2 and Tier 5 documentation which must be retained until permission is given by the Home Office to destroy it). 

Departments should also ensure that the date the right to work check was completed is correctly recorded in CoreHR. Colleges should have a comparable system for recording when right to work checks have been carried out and by whom.

Please send copies of right to work checks for Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsored visa holders to the Staff Immigration Team.

For more information on retention periods for university data which needs to be kept longer for other legal reasons, such as documentation in relation to sponsored visa holders and Personnel data relating to pay for example, please see the guidance on retention periods at: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/recruit/recruitproc/feedback/retention/

Step 4: Update CoreHR with right to work information (departments only)

It is mandatory that departments enter right to work information into CoreHR for all new employees, casuals and Tier 5 sponsored visa holders. From early 2015, in instances where the right to work information has not been completed/ has not been completed in full, the individual will not be paid until the matter is resolved.

See the CORE Quick Reference Guide PA10 for detailed information on how to complete the CoreHR right to work screen.

For casual workers, departments must complete the right to work information on the casual payroll form and ensure that any List B document holders are added to the department/college’s list of List B document holders along with their visa expiry dates.

Step 5: Conduct repeat check (for List B document holders only)

A repeat right to work check is only required where the employee/casual worker is a List B document holder, and you wish to extend their contract beyond the expiry date of their visa.

You do not need to conduct a repeat right to work check on any List A document holders. Nor do you need to conduct a repeat right to work check on a List B document holder who will be leaving your employment on/before the expiry date of their visa.

If you wish to continue to employ a List B document holder or assign a List B document holder to more casual work beyond the expiry date of their visa, you will need to conduct a repeat right to work check to ensure that the person has a new visa which permits them to continue to work/ they have applied for a new visa and are permitted to continue to work whilst they are waiting for the Home Office to process their application.

If you are extending a List B document holder’s contract beyond expiry of their existing visa:

  1. Approximately 3 months before the expiry date of their existing visa check that the employee/casual worker plans to extend their visa. For Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders , the application will be processed via the Staff Immigration Team. All other applications (i.e. Tier 1, ILR, spouse visas) will be handled independently by the employee/ casual worker.
  2. On/ before the expiry date of the existing visa, complete RTW check on the new visa (if available) following steps 1-4 above.

If on the expiry date of the existing visa the new visa is not yet received from the Home Office (and therefore you cannot complete a repeat RTW check):

  1. Seek and retain proof that an application to extend the visa was submitted to the Home Office before their existing visa expired. Acceptable proof includes a Home Office acknowledgement letter or proof of postage where it is clear that an application was sent to the Home Office. Once you are reasonably satisfied that an application to extend the visa was made before the existing visa expires, the person’s permission to work is extended for a further 28 days beyond the expiry date of their visa while they await their new visa from the Home Office.
  2. On/ before 21st day after original visa expired, complete a RTW check on the new  visa (if available) following steps 1-4 above.

If by the 21st day after the expiry date of the existing visa the new visa is still not yet received from Home Office (and therefore you still cannot complete a repeat RTW check):

  1. Contact the Home Office’s Employers Checking Serviceto confirm that an application was received and that they can continue to work. You should contact the Employers Checking Service no later than 21 days after the date the visa expired as it takes up to five days for the Home Office to respond. You will need to complete an interactive online form and will therefore need to have the following information ready:
    • The employee's full name
    • Their date of birth
    • Their nationality
    • The job title
    • The hours worked per week
    • Their home address
    • Their Home Office reference number or case ID (if they have either)
    • The business name
    • The business type
    • The business contact information
  2. Within five working days of submitting a request to the Employer’s Checking Service, the Home Office will respond to verify whether they have received an application and whether they may continue to work. A Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office valid for a further six months.
  3. During the six months validity of the Positive Verification Notice, you should keep in regular contact with the applicant to check when they have received their new visa and complete a RTW check using new visa once it has been received.

If, during any of the stages above you find that an employee’s visa application has been rejected or the Employers Checking Service cannot confirm that an application was received, please contact the Staff Immigration Team immediately.

Visa holders who apply for an extension to their visa as soon as possible (around three months before the existing visa expires) are likely to receive their new visa from the Home Office before their existing visa expires. This means that you will not need to seek and retain proof that an application was made or contact the employers checking service – please advise visa holders to apply for their visa as soon as possible.

Biometric Residence Permits for overseas applcants

Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) (credit-card sized plastic visa cards) are now issued to those applying overseas for permission to stay in the UK for more than six months. The applicant will be issued with a 30 day vignette (visa in their passport) to enable them to enter the UK but they must then collect their BRP within 10 days from a designated Post Office.

A letter issued to the applicant along with their 30 day vignette details the designated Post Office and the date from which the BRP will be available for collection, based on the UK address and intended travel date listed in the visa application. The passport containing the vignette and the letter must be presented when collecting the BRP. If the applicant does not collect their BRP within 10 days they could face a financial penalty and have may have their visa curtailed. Guidance in relation to BRPs for overseas applicants, and the schedule for the international roll-out, can be found on the Home Office website.

When conducting a right to work check, departments/ colleges must ensure that a copy of the Biometric Residence Permit is taken (where the visa holder is expected to hold one), as well as the 30 day vignette showing the entry date stamp. Visa holders should be advised to collect their Biometric Residence Permit before starting work so that a right to work check can be completed in full as required.

If for any reason a visa holder is unable to collect their Biometric Residence Permit before they commence work, the department/college may rely on the 30 day vignette as proof of right to work (assuming it is valid) only up to the expiry date of this temporary visa. The visa holder should be advised to collect their Biometric Residence Permit as soon as possible and before the 30 day vignette expires and present it to their department or college as proof of continued right to work. In these circumstances, departments and colleges must complete an initial right to work check on the 30 day vignette and a repeat right to work check on the Biometric Residence Permit before the 30 day vignette expires.

Departments and colleges will recognise those applicants from overseas who should have a Biometric Residence Permit by the expiry date of their vignette (visa in their passport). Those who should be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit will have a visa in their passport valid for only one month.

UK visas or Indefinite Leave to Remain in an old passport

Changes to the right to work rules in 2014 mean that UK visas and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the form of a vignette (paper visa) which is not in a current passport cannot be accepted as evidence of right to work in the UK.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • even if the expiry date of a previous passport has not yet passed it is no longer current if a new passport has been obtained.
  • endorsements under EEA (European) immigration rules where the individual is the family member of an EEA national, such as a Residence Card, Accession Residence Card, Derivative Residence Card, or Permanent Residence Card, can be accepted  as evidence of right to work whether in a current or expired passport, as long as they have not expired and are presented along with a current passport in the latter case.

In order to evidence right to work those with a UK visa or ILR in a previous passport will need to submit a ‘Transfer of Conditions’ (TOC) or ‘No Time Limit’ (NTL) application to the Home Office, respectively, to have their vignette re-issued in the form of Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (plastic visa card).

Standard postal TOC and NTL applications can take 8 weeks to process but applications can be submitted in person for an additional priority fee. If an application is made in person the new BRP should be issued within 2-3 weeks and you will then be able to complete a right to work check so that the individual can start work. 

Home Office guidance on applying to have a visa or ILR transferred to a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), and links to the TOC and NTL application forms can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/transfer-visa

If a standard postal application is submitted the applicant should receive a letter from the Home Office within a 1-2 weeks acknowledging receipt of the application. If this letter is presented you can then use the Home Office’s Employer Checking Service (ECS) to verify that an application has been submitted to have the vignette issued as a BRP and that the applicant has right to work while the application is being processed. As you should have the letter verified by the ECS within 2-3 weeks and the individual can start work it is normally only necessary for an application in person to be made, at increased cost to the applicant, where they have urgent travel plans.

Further information can be found in our step by step guide to the Employer Checking Service.

PLEASE NOTE: The individual must not be permitted to undertake any work until they are able to present their visa re-issued as a BRP, or the Home Office letter acknowledging an application has been verified through the Employer Checking Service. Further information on the Employer Checking Service can be found in our guidance on How to complete a right to work check.

Employer Checking Service (step by step)

As explained in the above guidance, if an individual cannot provide original documents to satisfy a right to work check, because their documents are with the Home Office as part of an outstanding application or appeal, you must use the Employer Checking Service to establish their right to work until such times as they can provide original documents.

Timing

If you are carrying out a right to work check for a new employee/casual worker and they have an application or appeal outstanding, or they present a UK visa or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the form of a vignette (paper visa) which is not in their current passport and will therefore need to apply to have their visa or ILR re-issued as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (plastic visa), you should use the Employer Checking Service as soon as possible as the work cannot commence until you have sucessfully verified the individual's right to work. (full details at step 1 above)

If you are carrying out a repeat check for an existing employee/casual worker who holds a List B document and they have an application or appeal outstanding at the time their original visa is due to expire you must use the Employer Checking Service by day 21 after the expiry date so that you can verify the individual's right to work before the 28 days after expiry deadline. (full details at step 5 above)

Process

  1. Seek and retain proof that an application was submitted to the Home Office, or an appeal was lodged, before the existing visa expired. Acceptable proof of an outstanding application includes a Home Office acknowledgement letter or proof of postage where it is clear that an application was sent to the Home Office. If an appeal is outstanding contact the Staff Immigration Team for guidance at this point.
  2. Contact the Home Office’s Employer Checking Serviceto request confirmation that an application was received from the migrant and that they can continue to work. You will need to complete an interactive online form and will therefore need to have the following information ready:
    • The employee's full name
    • Their date of birth
    • Their nationality
    • The job title
    • The hours worked per week
    • Their home address
    • Their Home Office reference number or case ID (if they have either)
    • The business name
    • The business type
    • The business contact information
  3. Within five working days of submitting a request to the Employer Checking Service, the Home Office will respond to verify whether they have received an application from the migrant and whether they may continue to work. A Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office along with a copy of the proof that an application or appeal is outstanding serves as evidence of right to work for six months .
  4. During the six months validity of the Positive Verification Notice, you should keep in regular contact with the applicant to check when they have received their new visa and complete a RTW check on their new visa once it has been received.

If, during any of the stages above you find that an individual's visa application has been rejected or you receive anything other than a Positive Verification Notice from the Employer Checking Service, please contact the Staff Immigration Team immediately.

Further information

Who needs a right to work check

Employing EEA nationals

Employing Non-EEA nationals

Additional requirements for employing overseas students