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Check how to prove your right to work in the UK

This advice applies to Wales

You’ll need to prove your right to work in the UK if you want to start working. 

You might be able to prove your right to work online or by showing your employer certain documents. Any document you show your employer must be:

  • valid - you can’t use a document that’s expired

  • the original document - you can’t use a copy

If your document is expiring soon and you’ve applied to extend your leave, you can still prove your right to work. You might need to use a different document or ask your employer to contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service (ECS) - it depends what kind of leave you have.

You can check if you have the right to work in the UK if you’re not sure.

If you think the Home Office ECS has made a mistake about your immigration status

You can fill in a form to tell them they’ve got the wrong information - for example if it’s out of date. Find out how to tell the Home Office they’ve got the wrong information about your status on GOV.UK.

Check what you need to prove your right to work

How you prove your right to work will depend on your immigration status - this is also called your ‘leave’. 

If you're a British or Irish citizen

You can prove your right to work by showing your employer your valid British or Irish passport. 

If you don’t have a British or Irish passport, you can use a valid passport from another country. The passport must have a stamp or sticker on it saying you have right of abode.

If you don’t have a valid passport

You’ll need to show your employer 2 different documents instead.

You should show one document with your name and National Insurance number on it - this must be from the government or your previous employer. For example, you could show a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or a tax document like a P45.

The second document you should show is either your:

  • birth or adoption certificate, if it’s from a court or register office in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Ireland

  • certificate of registration or naturalisation, if you became a British citizen by applying for it

If you have pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme

You should prove your right to work online. Check how to get a share code to prove your right to work on GOV.UK.

If you proved your right to work before 1 July 2021, your employer shouldn’t ask you to prove it again. Your employer should only ask you to prove your right to work again if they’re asking all their employees to do this.

If you have indefinite leave to enter or remain

You can prove your right to work by showing your employer any of the following:

  • your biometric residence permit from the Home Office - it must say you have settlement or indefinite leave to enter or remain 

If you have an immigration status document

You can show your employer your immigration status document and one other document if you don’t have a permit, passport or online share code.

You might have an immigration status document if you got indefinite leave to remain before 2013 and you either:

  • are a refugee

  • don’t have a biometric residence permit yet

Your immigration status document must have a residence permit sticker on it saying you have indefinite leave to remain. 

The other document must have your name and National Insurance number on it - this document must be from the government or your previous employer. For example, you could show a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or a tax document like a P45.

If you're a Commonwealth citizen with right of abode

You might be able to prove your right to work online. Check if you can get a share code to prove your right to work on GOV.UK.

If you can’t prove your right to work online, you can show your employer your valid passport instead. It must have a sticker from the Home Office saying you have the right of abode.

If you're an asylum seeker

Most people who are applying for asylum don’t have the right to work. 

You can check your application registration card (ARC) from the Home Office - if it says ‘work permitted’ it means you’re allowed to work. 

You might only be allowed to do certain types of jobs - these are called ‘shortage occupations’. If you’re only allowed to do shortage occupations, your ARC will say ‘SOL’. You can check if your job is included in the shortage occupations list on GOV.UK.

You can find out more about working in the UK while you’re seeking asylum on GOV.UK.

Talk to an adviser if you’re not sure if you have the right to work.

Proving your right to work

You can prove your right to work by showing your employer your ARC. Your employer will also need to contact the Home Office to check you have the right to work.

If you need to prove you have the right to do the job you’re applying for, you’ll need to show your employer either:

  • your ARC

  • a separate letter from the Home Office - it must say you’re allowed to do the job you’re applying for

If you have limited leave to remain

You'll have limited leave to remain if you have a visa with a time limit - for example, if you have:

  • a student, work or family visa

  • refugee status

You can prove your right to work by showing your employer any of the following:

  • your biometric residence permit from the Home Office - it must say you can stay in the UK and you can do the type of work you’re applying to do

If you don't know what type of leave you have

Talk to an adviser to get help to understand what type of leave you have.

If you're applying to extend your leave

If you applied to extend your leave before it expired, you’ll still have the right to work while you’re applying - as long as you had the right to work before.

If you’re applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

The Home Office will give you a Certificate of Application saying you’re allowed to work for 6 months while you wait for a decision about your status. They might send your Certificate of Application to you by post, email or they might give you an online version. 

If you have an online Certificate of Application, you can get a share code to prove your right to work on GOV.UK.

If you got your Certificate of Application by post or email, you should show the certificate to your employer. Your employer will also need to contact the Home Office to confirm you have the right to work.

If you're applying to extend another type of leave

Your employer will need to check if:

  • the Home Office have got your application to extend your leave 

  • you have the right to work

Your employer should use the Home Office Employer Checking Service on GOV.UK.

If you’re already employed and your leave expires, your employer has to get confirmation of your right to work within 28 days. If the Home Office don’t confirm your right to work, your employer can dismiss you.

Asking your employer to contact the Home Office

Your employer should contact the Home Office at least 14 days after you applied. Your application won’t show up on the Home Office system straight away.

If the Home Office say you’ll need a biometric appointment, your application for an extension might not show up on their system until you’ve had the appointment. If you haven’t had your appointment yet, tell your employer - you can still work while you’re waiting for the appointment. 

You can find out more about biometric appointments on GOV.UK.

Make sure you tell your employer when you applied so they know when to contact the Home Office. You can show them a letter or email showing the date when you applied.

If the Home Office take more than 28 days to confirm your right to work

You can complain to the Home Office if you’re worried you might lose your job because they’ve taken too long to confirm your right to work. You can complain to the Home Office on GOV.UK.

You could also contact your local MP on the Parliament website . They can find out more about the delay and might be able to help speed up your application.

Give your MP as much information as possible - it will help them track down your application. For example, you could show them proof of your application to extend your leave and the date you applied.

Talk to an adviser if you need help complaining to the Home Office or contacting your MP.

If you don’t have a document you need

You should check if you can prove your right to work in a different way - if you can’t, you’ll need to apply for a replacement document.

Replacing a British passport

If you have a British passport, you can get a new passport urgently on GOV.UK.

Replacing a passport from a country outside the UK

If you have the right of abode, you should apply for a new certificate of entitlement to go in your new passport. You can check how to apply for a new certificate of entitlement on GOV.UK.

You can usually get a new passport by contacting your embassy. You might need your new passport to prove your immigration status.

Replacing an immigration status document or an expired stamp in your passport

You should get a biometric residence permit. You can check how to get a biometric residence permit on GOV.UK.

If your biometric residence permit or card has been lost or stolen

You have to apply for a replacement biometric residence permit or card within 3 months. If you don’t apply for a replacement within this time, you can be made to leave the UK and fined up to £1,000. 

You also have to report your biometric residence permit or card as lost or stolen. Report your biometric residence permit or card as lost or stolen and apply for a replacement on GOV.UK.

If your biometric residence permit or card is expiring

If you have indefinite leave to enter or remain, you can apply for a replacement biometric residence permit or card on GOV.UK.

If you have limited leave to remain, your leave will probably be expiring at the same time as your biometric residence permit or card. You should apply to extend your leave instead of applying for a new biometric residence permit.

If you don't have a National Insurance number

Your employer might ask you for your National Insurance number when you’re proving your right to work. You can get a National Insurance number if you have the right to work in the UK and one of the following applies:

  • you’re looking for work 

  • you have a job offer to start work

  • you’ve already started work

If you’ve already got a National Insurance number but you’ve lost it, you can check how to find your National Insurance number on GOV.UK.

How to apply for a National Insurance number

You can apply for a National Insurance number on GOV.UK

It can take 16 weeks to get your National Insurance number. If you don’t have your National Insurance number yet, you can show your employer an email or letter showing you’ve applied for it.

If your employer has dismissed you or withdrawn a job offer

If your employer dismissed you or withdrew the job offer because of something connected to your right to work, they might have discriminated against you.

If your employer dismissed you, it might be unfair dismissal. 

You can challenge your employer’s decision if they’ve treated you unfairly.

Check if your dismissal is unfair

It might be unfair dismissal if your employer didn’t treat you fairly, for example if they:

  • said you hadn’t shown enough evidence to prove your right to work, even though you’d shown them the correct documents

  • didn’t give you time to get the right documents 

  • dismissed you while you’re applying to extend your leave

  • refused to check your share code online 

You’ll need to check some other things to find out if your dismissal is unfair - for example, how long you’ve worked for your employer. You can check if your dismissal is unfair.

Check if your employer has discriminated against you

You can check if you’ve been discriminated against and how to take action.

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