How to check a migrant’s right to work?

UK companies have to check a prospective worker’s immigration status and in particular that he/she is allowed to work in the UK before they start employment. Employers can either check the individual’s original documents or assess the applicant’s right to work online, if the migrant has provided their share code.

Please note that employers might face a hefty civil penalty if they were to hire an illegal worker without having carried out the correct right to work check.

Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens

Right to work checks continue in the same way until 30 June 2021 for citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Employers will not need to make retrospective checks for existing employees.

Checking the migrant’s original documents

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the right to work checks have been temporarily adjusted to make it easier for employers to carry them out.

As of 30 March 2020, the following temporary changes were introduced:

  • Checks can now be carried out over video calls;
  • Job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather originals;
  • Employers should use the Employer Checking Service ( if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents.

Employers can also use the following link to check the applicant’s right to work online: They will need the migrant’s date of birth and right to work share code.

If the job applicant or existing worker cannot show their documents

Employers must contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service ( If the person has a right to work, the Employer Checking Service will send you a ‘Positive Verification Notice’. This provides you with a statutory excuse for 6 months from the date in the notice.

Once the COVID-19 measures have ended

The current COVID-19 measures are only temporary and once they were to end, employers should carry out the retrospective checks on existing employees who:

  • Started working for you during these measures;
  • Required a follow-up right to work check during these measures.


Employers should make a note on the employee’s file that the prescribed right to work check was undertaken due to COVID-19 and that the original documents have now been seen on the relevant date.

Please note that the retrospective check must be carried out as soon as possible and within 8 weeks of the COVID-19 measures ending.

Contact Our Immigration Team

For expert advice regarding any aspect of UK immigration, please contact our team on 0203 384 3075.

The content of this article is for general use and information only. Since each case should be prepared on its own merit and in light of the constant amendments to the Immigration Rules, it is important to note that the information provided must not be relied upon unless Migra & Co has either given written consent or has been officially engaged in relation to a specific immigration matter. As a result, Migra & Co will take no responsibility for any damage, cost or loss resulting from relying on the information contained in this article, blog and website.

We remain open for business and can arrange meetings by phone call or video conferencing to advise and assist with any UK immigration matters.
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