Employing non-EEA nationals

All non-EEA nationals require permission to work in the UK issued by the Home Office.

Employing non-EEA nationals with permanent right to work in the UK (List A document)

Some prospective employees who are non-EEA nationals may already hold a valid Indefinite Leave to Remain visa or other endorsement showing that there is no time limit on their stay in the UK. In this case, departments and colleges must retain a copy of the passport endorsed with the visa showing that the holder is exempt from immigration control and allowed to stay and work in the UK indefinitely by following the right to work check guidance.

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. From 6 April 2015 these endorsements under EEA (European) immigration rules may be issued in the form of a plastic visa card rather than as a vignette (visa in a passport).

Departments will not need to carry out repeat right to work checks for those prospective/existing employees who hold indefinite leave to remain.  

Employing non-EEA nationals with limited right to work in the UK (List B document)

Some prospective employees who are non-EEA nationals may already hold permission to work in the UK for a limited period of time. For example, this may be in the form of a Tier 1 visa, UK Ancestry visa or as the dependant of a work visa holder. Such individuals will be permitted to take up employment straight away as long as the visa is valid.

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. From 6 April 2015 these endorsements under EEA (European) immigration rules may be issued in the form of a plastic visa card rather than as a vignette (visa in a passport).

Where an employee holds limited permission to work in the UK, departments must complete a repeat right to work check when their limited permission (i.e. their visa) is due to expire by following the right to work check guidance. Where an individual’s permission to work in the UK has been confirmed via a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office (i.e. where they have presented a Certificate of Application or Application Registration Card, or if they have an application or appeal outstanding) departments and colleges must complete a repeat right to work check after within six months of the date of the Positive Verification Notice.

Biometric Residence Permits for overseas applicants

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. Those for whom the scheme has not yet been rolled out will continue to receive a visa in their passport for the full duration applied for.

Tier 2 sponsored visa holders

Some prospective employees who are non-EEA nationals may hold a Tier 2 work visa. Tier 2 visas only permit an individual to work for the sponsor who issued the Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship and only allow them to work in the specific post that was detailed when the Certificate of Sponsorship was issued (although supplementary work may be permitted under certain conditions). Therefore, when conducting right to work checks on prospective employees, departments and colleges should be aware that current Tier 2 visa holders with another employer will not be permitted to take up new employment without either obtaining a new Tier 2 visa for the post in question or switching into an employment visa route that does not restrict an individual to working in a specific post for a specific employer such as Tier 1. In such cases, the prospective employee will not be permitted to take up the new post until a new visa is granted that allows them to do so.

Further information on making a Tier 2 application can be found on the Staff Immigration Team website.

Tier 5 sponsored visa holders

Supernumerary researchers, lecturers and external examiners and research interns may enter the UK under Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange).

Tier 5 visas only permit an individual to conduct research/teach/act as an external examiner for the sponsor who issued the Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship (although supplementary work may be permitted under certain circumstances) and only allow them to work on the specific research project/teaching that was detailed when the Certificate of Sponsorship was issued. Therefore, when conducting right to work checks on sponsored researchers, departments should be aware that current Tier 5 visa holders with another sponsor will not be permitted to take up the research/teaching/external examiner opportunity without obtaining a new Tier 5 visa. Departments and colleges should note that in such cases, the researcher will not be permitted to take up the research opportunity until a new visa is granted that allows them to do so.

Further information on making a Tier 5 application can be found on the Staff Immigration Team website.

Tier 4 students

Departments and colleges should be aware of additional requirements when checking the right to work of Tier 4 student visa holders. See: further information on employing overseas students.

Registering with the police

Nationals of some countries, whose visas are issued for six months or more, are required to hold a Certificate of Registration, known as a Police Registration Certificate (PRC), and must report their arrival and certain changes to the police, keeping their PRC up to date. If required to register with the police as part of their visa requirements a visa holder is committing an offence if they do not.

A list of nationals who are required to register with the police can be found on the Home Office website.

If a visa holder is required to register with the police this should be stated on their vignette (paper visa in their passport), and in the Home Office letter sent when their visa was issued. Additionally this may be listed on their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (plastic visa card). If a visa holder is required to register, their dependants (who are 16 or over) will also be required to register if they are also nationals of one of the countries listed by the Home Office. Dual nationals will not be required to register with the police if only one of their nationalities appear on the Home Office list.

We recommend that departments/colleges check whether visa holders have been informed they must register with the police when they present their visa on arrival or after an extension.

How to register with the police

Visa holders required to register with the police and living in the Oxfordshire area should review the information on the Thames Valley Police website and complete the online registration process within 7 days of arrival in the UK.

The online registration process will provide the details for an appointment to attend the police station where they should be given their Police Registration Certificate. The University's local police station is located at St Aldate's, Oxford, OX1 1SZ.

Visa holders should take the following documents to the appointment:

  • Valid passport;
  • £34.00 cash;
  • Offer letter or employment contract;
  • Proof of address in the Thames Valley area;
  • Biometric residence permit/vigentte in passport and Home Office letter.

Visa holders required to register with the police residing outside of the Thames Valley area should review the Home Office website to determine the registration process for their area.

Changes which must to be reported

Visa holders who are required to register with the police must keep their Police Registration Certificate (PRC) updated and must report the following to their local police station within 7 days of the events taking place:

  • entry into the UK;
  • change of address;
  • absences of two months or more from the current registered address;
  • change of employment, profession or occupation;
  • changes to their visa or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP);
  • change of name or gender;
  • change of marital status;
  • change of nationality;
  • change in passport details.

Visa holders residing in the Oxfordshire area should update their details via the Thames Valley Police online registration and book an appointment to attend their local police station.

If a visa holder fails to register with the police or update their PRC with any changes in time, they should go to the police station straight away and explain the circumstances. If the delay in reporting was due to illness they should take a letter from their doctor if possible.

If a visa holder loses their PRC they will need to report the loss to the police and apply for a new certificate paying the fee again.

PLEASE NOTE: Whilst it is not a legal requirement for employers to check that a visa holder from one of the listed countries has registered with the police, it is strongly recommended that departments/colleges advise such visa holders of their responsibility to register. Otherwise, it may not be possible to extend their visa, should an extension be required, if they have failed to register with the police or report any of the circumstances outlined above. Failure to comply with this requirement can carry a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months imprisonment for the visa holder.

Further information

Who needs a right to work check

How to complete a right to work check

Employing EEA nationals

Additional requirements for employing overseas students