The majority of workers who have successfully applied to the Home Office for permission to work in the UK are issued a Biometrics Residence Permit (BRP), a Biometrics Residence Card (BRC) or a Frontier Worker Permit (FWP). These documents set out the identity and personal information of the holder, including their digital photograph, a brief reference to the immigration category, and the document (the visa) expiry date.
Up until 6th April 2022, employers can undertake a manual check or a virtual check (the latter being a temporary measure introduced to address the challenges arising from the pandemic) of the individual’s BRP, BRC or FWP as valid proof of an entitlement to work. After this date, employers must use the Home Office’s online checking service. Manual checks of the physical document will no longer be acceptable.
The online checking service is available from the following weblink:
To complete the check, the employer will require the employee’s or prospective employee’s date of birth and their share code.
Individuals can access their unique share code (and effectively verify their own working entitlements) from the following portal:
Share codes will be valid for 30 days from the date of issue and can be renewed. However, employers should not rely on viewing and/or having access to the individual personal portal. The employer must undertake their own verification process (using the first weblink above) having obtained the relevant share code from the employee or prospective employee. The Home Office has an audit record of what verification checks the employer undertakes.
The employer’s online verification process will confirm whether the individual has continuous rights to work, or whether their entitlements are time-limited, and employers must retain a copy of the online record (either by saving as a pdf or HTML, or printing and keeping the physical document on file).
There is no requirement to undertake retrospective online checks in respect of documents that were manually or virtually inspected before 6th April 2022. The new system is aimed towards those whose employment commences from 6th April 2022.
Employers who fail to carry out a check appropriately may face a civil penalty.
British and Irish citizens
British and Irish nationals can currently evidence their right to work in the UK by presenting their physical documents (typically a passport including an Irish passport card) to the employer.
From 6th April 2022, an equivalent online checking system that currently applies to foreign workers, as described above, will also be introduced for British and Irish citizens. This process will not however require the employee having to access a share code. Instead, they will be able to upload images of their passports via a certified Identity Service Provider (‘IDSP’) to verify their identity remotely and prove their eligibility to work.
Unlike the share code system, which is free for employers to use, the IDSP system for British and Irish citizens could cost employers between £1.45 to £70 per check. However, employers will not be mandated to use this system and can continue to carry out manual in-person document checks on British and Irish citizens.
With thanks to Glyn Lloyd at Newfields Limited who specialise in Business Immigration Law for preparing this article for our business clients and contacts.