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E-Visas and Right to Work Checks

The Home Office has started the full roll out of the electronic visa system, replacing physical immigration documents, such as Biometric Residence Permits (BRP's), with a digital only UKVI account.

In our previous Article, in April’s Employment Law Digest we discussed the updated system and how this will work with regard to Right to Work.

On 17 April 2024 a small number of BRP holders were contacted by the Home Office with an email invitation to create their online UKVI account. Phased invitations from the Home Office will now be sent throughout the year to ensure all those affected have received instructions on how to create their UKVI account.

Once set up, a UKVI account allows access to an eVisa, which is digital confirmation of a person’s immigration status. Anyone with a UKVI account can use the Home Office’s “view and prove” service to share their immigration status and conditions with employers, landlords and other relevant third parties. Many employers will be used to using share codes generated via the “view and prove” service as part of right to work checks for staff subject to immigration control.

However, not all employers and employees will have used the “view and prove” system to confirm a right to work; prior to 6 April 2022, employers were able to verify an individual’s right to work by checking their physical BRP.

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Employers may be aware that the physical cards typically have an expiry date of 31 December 2024 (regardless of when an individual’s permission expires after this date). Therefore, for any employee with limited leave and whose right to work was checked manually, a repeat right to work check will need to be carried out before the expiry of the document used, namely before 31 December 2024. It will be crucial for businesses to effectively communicate with their staff and plan ahead to ensure that all such right to work checks are completed in time.

Practical Steps for Businesses

  • Make sure you are not checking physical BRP’s as evidence of right to work. Since April 2022, employers must check right to work for BRP holders using the Home Office online portal using a share code.
  • Make sure you have reviewed your staff records so that you have an up to date list of all employees who established their right to work using a physical BRP (i.e. before 6 April 2022) and who are subject to an expiry date of 31 December 2024.
  • Plan for repeat right to work checks on these staff in good time (wherever possible) before the 31 December 2024 cut off period.
  • Try not to leave it until the last minute. Particularly if there are lots of employees this category. Additional pressure on Home Office systems as we approach the deadline may also cause some difficulties.
  • Carry out early repeat checks where possible – employees may already have digital status so you may be able to undertake the check now without waiting until December. However, it is worth being aware that individuals cannot set up their UKVI account until the Home Office invites them to do so, so they may not have control over the timings.
  • To manage this unpredictability, we recommend that employers communicate with affected employees now, emphasising the importance of creating a UKVI account as soon as the opportunity is provided.
  • Document any further expiry dates and diarise for further repeat checks where needed.

Next Steps

Despite these challenges, the transition to the digital only system is an opportunity for businesses to thoroughly review their right to work procedures along with their compliance with any applicable sponsor duties. Having robust systems in place can help retain valued employees, and minimise any potential business disruption caused by the move to eVisas.

If you or your employees hold physical immigration documents (such as a BRP), and have any questions regarding the eVisa roll out and its impact on right to work checks, please get in touch with one our expert Immigration Lawyers.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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