Virtual right to work checks

Young indian male with data graphics overlay
by Pat Saini
Pat co-head’s the TLA Immigration working group. In her day job she is the head of immigration at city law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP, with 25 years' immigration experience. Pat has been instrumental in lobbying for ‘fit for purpose’ immigration routes for tech companies and tech entrepreneurs and regularly liaises with senior Home Office officials on behalf of the sector.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the Government’s message to work from home where possible, the Home Office put in place temporary concessions allowing employers to carry out virtual right to work checks. This concession was initially due to end on 16 May and was later extended until 20 June. After much lobbying, including by TLA, the UKVI took the decision to allow the concession to remain in place until 31 August 2021. This will allow businesses to continue to accept copies of right to work documents sent to them electronically and to carry out a video conference call to confirm the individual’s identity. Full details of the adjusted right to work checks guidance can be found here.

As a reminder, those conducting right to work checks need to make sure:

  • The individual’s visa conditions allow them to work for the business and carry out the role;
  • The visa is valid;
  • Key date where the individual has limited leave; and
  • The document has not been tampered with (in the case of a physical document).

Documents must be kept on file for the duration of the individual’s employment and two years post completion.

From 1 September, employers are expected to revert to carrying out right to work checks in person on prospective (or current, in the event of follow up checks) employees before commencement of employment through the following methods:

  1. Physical right to work checks
    a. identify the appropriate document to confirm ID (as per the Home Office checklist);
    b. carry out the check whilst the individual is physically present; and
    c. take a copy of the document and record the date at which the check was carried out.
  2. Use of video conferencing
    a. identify the appropriate document to confirm ID (as per the Home Office checklist);
    b. ask the individual to send in the original document to the designated person in the business; and
    c. the designated person arranges a visa conference call to confirm identity and takes a copy of the physical document, records the date the check was carried out and returns the original document to the individual.
  3. Online right to work checks through this link – this is for those individuals who have a visa or status online (including a status through the EU Settlement Scheme) or a biometric residence permit.
    a. the individual will need to provide a share code together with their date of birth so that an online check can be submitted;
    b. the online check response will display the individual’s photo which will need to be verified either in person or through video conference; and
    c. a copy of the response will need to be kept and the date at which the check was carried out online and individual’s identity was verified will need to be noted.

As a reminder, those conducting right to work checks need to make sure:

  • the individual’s visa conditions allow them to work for the business and carry out the role;
  • the visa is still valid, key date where the individual has limited leave; and
  • the document has not been tampered with (in the case of a physical document).

The concession was welcome news for many tech businesses, what we are hearing is that businesses would like this concession to become a standard practice of complying with the right to work checks. At TLA we are keen to take this message to UKVI on behalf of advocates. Please get in touch to tell us how your business will benefit from virtual right to work checks becoming an accepted way to carry out checks.

Pat Saini – Co-lead of TLA Immigration Working Group

The concession has been well received by those in the tech sector, but the continuing ambiguity and lack of clarity has caused significant frustration. Those in the industry would like to see RTW checks become available virtually as a continuing standard, with the process during the last year being seen as a successful trial period. At TLA, we always look to take members views seriously and believe a sensible compromise can be found between the Home Office and our members.

Matt Bradburn – Co-lead of TLA Immigration Working Group