A right to work checks of the employee's original documents must be completed before work commences. It is generally recommended that employers carry out the check at the interview stage to ensure the employer has checked and retained copies of a worker's original document and are satisfied they can work legally in the UK. This gives the employer a statutory excuse against sanction from the Home Office.
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. Where a contract start date falls on a weekend or public holiday, and cannot be delayed as it has been specified by a funding organisation, the check must be carried out before the first day.
The Home Office provide a list of document types that can be accepted as proof of right to work. These are divided into List A and List B documents:
1) Vignette (entry clearance sticker in passport) - normally valid for 30 days, and used to enter the UK
2) Biometric residence permit (BRP) - credit-card sized plastic visa cards are issued to those staying in the UK for more than six months. Must be collected from designated Post Office within 10 days of arriving into the UK
The employer must ask the employee/casual worker to provide an original, valid right to work document to be checked. It must be made clear to the new employee that no work can start before the right to work check has been completed. A right to work check is normally undertaken by the HR department or other University staff who have completed the right to work training.
When a right to work check is conducted of an original document, please check the following to ensure compliance with Home Office rules:
Once the employing department or college is satisfied that the prospective employee has the right to work in the UK, and their document appears to be genuine, the document must be copied in its entirety.
Passports - Take a copy of the personal details page. This contains the name, date of birth, nationality, photograph, expiry date of the document, signature.
UK Biometric residence permit (BRP): Take a copy of the front and back of the visa (containing the name, date of birth, nationality, visa type, visa expiry date, signature)
UK vignette - Take a copy of the visa sticker itself and the passport. The vignette states the name, date of birth, nationality and visa type. This is sometimes a temporary entry vignette (valid up to 30 months), but can also be an older visa for Indefinite Leave to remain or a family permit. Where a valid vignette is stuck in an expired passport, please contact Staff Immigration Team to check whether it can still be used to check someone's right to work.
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]”
The declaration above must be included on all right to work check copies. 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).
Simply stating the date and signing the copy would not be accepted by the Home Office as a valid right to work check.
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/
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.
Please see the 'Casual workers' page for more information.
A repeat right to work check is only required where the employee/casual worker is a List B document holder and/or you intend to continue to employ them employ them. List B documents are fixed-term visas, so the employer must secure a new right to work check to allow the person to continue to work. The repeat right to work check must be secured within 28 days after the List B visa expires. If the visa holder has a pending application with the Home Office, the department/college should use the Employer Checking Service to secure their employee's right to work during this period.
1. an employee is a List A document holder and a right to work check was already completed before they started their employment
2. a List B document holder will be leaving your employment on/before the expiry date of their visa.
If you have completed a right to work check of an 30 day entry vignette and need to do a repeat right to work check of the BRP:
If you are extending a List B document holder’s contract beyond expiry of their existing visa:
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):
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):
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.
As each academic division administers personnel files for academic appointments in slightly different ways the responsibility to carry out right to work checks and retain records may be assigned differently within different divisions. We recommend, therefore that departments discuss this issue with their divisional office to ensure that practices are consistent within each division and that all parties are clear where responsibility lies for ensuring that:
It is recommended that, even if initial right to work checks are done in the divisional office, departments keep a copy of all right to work checks. Where a copy is held in departments it should be noted on the copy where the original check is stored.
UK visas and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the form of a vignette which is not in a current passport cannot be accepted as evidence of right to work in the UK. The passport is not considered to be 'current' when the passport holder has obtained a new passport. This means that the vignette and passport cannot be used as a valid right to work check even if the passport has not expired, if a newer passport has been issued to the individual in question.
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.
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 the visa have not expired and is presented along with a current passport in the latter case.
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