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UK Immigration: Right to Work check changes from 6 April 2022

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law
  • Global mobility and immigration


Right to work checks for biometric card holders from 6 April 2022

The Home Office’s guidance note on right to work checks has recently been updated to reflect that from 6 April 2022, employers will no longer be able to carry out a manual right to work check on those who hold a biometric residence permit, biometric residence card or a frontier worker permit (biometric card holders).

Employers must carry out an online right to work check (using a specific portal and share code process) for all checks undertaken from this date onwards in order to establish a statutory excuse/defence. As a consequence, we recommend that action is taken to update any right to work guidance notes and checklists to ensure those responsible for undertaking right to work checks in practice appreciate the change in rules by the above date.

The Home Office has confirmed that biometric residence cards, biometric residence permits and frontier worker permits will be removed from the lists of acceptable documents that can be accepted for a manual right to work check to reflect this change. Furthermore, that a retrospective right to work check on those who used a biometric residence permit, biometric residence card or a frontier worker permit to prove their right to work during a manual right to work check, will not be required provided those documents/checks were permissible under the relevant guidance and established a statutory excuse at the time the check was taken.

The COVID-19 adjusted checks process will still end on 5 April 2022 (inclusive) as previously communicated by the Government.

Identification Document Validation Technology (“IDVT”)

In addition, the Home Office has recently announced that employers will be able to use certified Identification Document Validation Technology (“IDVT”) to carry out digital identity checks on new employees in the future. This will include candidates previously outside the scope of the Home Office’s current online services, such as British and Irish citizens. This change, once finalised and implemented, is likely to come into force in April 2022.

IDVT technology establishes the authenticity of documents such as passports and biometric residence permits for identity verification purposes. It will not be mandatory for employers to use IDVT as manual checks of physical documents, together with checking the status of biometric permits online, will remain permissible.

Whilst the information available on the new process remains limited and subject to change, it appears that the new IDVT process requires the following:

1. IDVT products to be purchased by employers from a certified provider, the approved list of which is currently being compiled by the Home Office;

2. The prospective employee can use IDVT to upload an image of the identity document or read the biometric chip within the relevant document, which the technology will compare with either the photograph of the individual in the document or an image of the holder provided by a live video stream.

3. IDVT providers record the necessary information which will include the individual’s name, date of birth, contact details, employment provisional start date, identity document details, the facial image and photograph.

4. Prospective employees may view the information that has been captured by the provider and given to the prospective employer, who then reviews the information supplied by the IDVT provider to complete the right-to-work check.

Employers will only be able to use a certified IDTV provider in order to establish a statutory excuse where the check has been carried out on one or more of the acceptable documents prescribed in legislation. The cost of the use of IDVT services will be borne by the employer and it is envisaged this may vary widely, possibly up to a fee of £70 per check. IDVT will not be suitable for every current List A or B documents and in those circumstances an in-person check will need to be made.

Next action

The introduction of the COVID-19 adjusted right-to-work checks during the lockdown period has, from our experience, been popular amongst employers. The prospect of being able to utilise IDVT technology in line with future Home Office guidance is, we think, likely to also be a popular way of managing the process in future.

Employers should continue to check guidance from UK Visas and Immigration on this subject as information continues to be released and continue to ensure they are familiar with the documents which require a mandatory online right to work check from 6 April 2022.

View our Immigration UK - Right-to-work in 2022 training course which is suitable for HR, global mobility and legal professionals who oversee, operate or implement right-to-work checking processes. The modules do not presume prior knowledge of immigration law.