Changes to right to work checks

From 6 April 2022, the way right to work checks are conducted is changing. Our immigration and employment lawyers outline everything employers need to know.

21st January 2022

From 6 April 2022, the way right to work checks are conducted is changing.

Virtual or “adjusted” right to work checks will no longer be acceptable

Virtual checks were only ever intended as a temporary concession because of the pandemic. While they have been repeatedly extended throughout the pandemic, the Home Office is adamant that they will end once and for all, with 5 April 2022 being the final date on which they can be validly conducted. From 6 April 2022, they will cease to be acceptable. Employers will have to revert to conducting manual checks where permissible, or online checks via the Home Office’s website (see below).

Online-only right to work checks for migrants with a biometric residence card/permit or frontier worker permit

For non-British, non-Irish migrants with biometric residence cards/permits or frontier worker permits, from 6 April 2022 employers must conduct their right to work check online via the Home Office’s website and database. It will no longer be acceptable to check a migrant’s physical (or virtual) ID document, even if that document appears to be valid. Conducting a right to work check on a migrant via the Home Office’s database is free and straightforward. The employee requests a “share code” from the Home Office, and then supplies this to their employer who inputs it into the Home Office’s website. This system is already in place and an acceptable method of checking right to work. For those already familiar with this system, there will be no change.

Introduction of “Identity Document Validation Technology”

Online right to work checks cannot currently be conducted on British and Irish citizens. Because of this, from 6 April 2022 employers will have to revert to manual checks as their only viable option for British and Irish citizens. In recognition of this inconvenience, the Home Office is planning to replace the current system of virtual or “adjusted” checks that has been used throughout the pandemic with a new system of digital checks aimed at British and Irish citizens. The new system will theoretically provide a remote alternative for employers hiring British or Irish citizens. There is currently no indication that this system will be compulsory. It is expected to come with a cost per check of £1.45 to £70, and on that basis it will be for employers to weigh up whether the inconvenience of a manual check outweighs the additional cost of a remote check. More information will be released as we get closer to April.

Summary

From 6 April 2022, right to work checks on most migrants will be online-only and free. Checks on British or Irish nationals will optionally be manual and free, or online at a cost. Retrospective checks are not required, the changes only apply to right to work checks being conducted on or after 6 April 2022.

The updated employer’s guide published by the Home Office on 17 January 2022 can be read in full here.

For more information on this or another related matter, please contact Jacqueline Moore or John Vassiliou, of our employment and immigration team, or your usual Shepherd and Wedderburn contact.