Right to Work in the UK – Proving Eligibility Guide

Proving you have the right to work in the UK can be confusing. New immigration laws also mean that employers have to check your eligibility to work in the UK. This means that you will need to provide documents that prove your right to work in the UK, even if you have been a resident for many years or are already a British Citizen.

Our guide gives an easy to understand overview of the process. It’s important that employers make the right checks and keep records of them. Failing to do this can lead to prosecution and large fines because of strict UK immigration rules.


Eligibility to Work in the UK

Some people are automatically entitled to work in the UK. Others may have restrictions on working, how long they can stay and the type of work they can do. So who has the right to work in the UK?

  • British Citizens.
  • Holders of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or other settled status.
  • Anyone with a UK work visa.

There are no restrictions on the right to work in the UK for anyone who is a British Citizen. Similarly, anyone with a residency visa or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) can work in any job. EU Citizens who have settled or pre settled status can also work without any conditions being placed upon them.


Conducting Right to Work Checks

It’s the responsibility of all employers to have consistent systems to conduct right to work checks. This must be done in a way that does not constitute discrimination in the workplace. This means right to work checks must be conducted in an even handed way, with processes applied to all employees.

Asking for documents to check eiligibility to work in the UK must not be done on the basis of race, or nationality. This could leave an employer open to being taken to an employment tribunal for discrimination in the workplace.

It is important to follow procedures and to confirm a person is eligible to work in the UK before employing them. Prevention of Illegal Working legislation means an employer could be held criminally liable if they employ someone without proper permission to work in the UK.


How to Prove Right to Work in The UK

There are, by law, 3 lists of documents acceptable as evidence of legal working status in the UK. More information about these lists can be obtained from the Home Office.

Maintaining Statutory Excuse

Conducting proper checks and keeping records of them provides employers with a “statutory excuse”. That means if they are later found to be employing an illegal worker, they’ll be excused from hefty civil penalties. Fines are currently set at up to £20,000 per worker.

Employers also need to make sure they take the right steps to maintain their statutory excuse. If someone’s work visa expires during employment and no further checks are conducted, this leaves the business open to penalties.


Right to Work Documents

Employers must ask new employees for documents proving their right to work in the UK.

To do this, they should show documents from one of the relevant Home Office Guidance lists. The correct list to use depends on the worker’s immigration status.


How to Conduct Document Checks

Proper checks must be conducted on the right documents provided by workers. They must be original documents which can be authenticated, not copies. They must also be on the list as outlined by the Home Office.

The business must take all reasonable steps to ensure the potential employee is the rightful owner of the presented documents.

Businesses should keep copies of all documents in a format that can’t be altered. This could include scans or hard copies.

The Immigration Service can examine your statutory excuse if they suspect anyone of illegally working for you. It isn’t appropriate, however, to keep the original documents. They should be copied in full and the originals returned to the owner. Copied documents should be kept for a minimum of 3 years after the employee has ceased working the business.


If in doubt or you wish to find out further information, contact the Home Office or Immigration Service.

33 thoughts on “Right to Work in the UK – Proving Eligibility Guide

  1. Bangan says:

    Hello! I’m non Eu national,currently living here in Czech Republic and would like to work in UK for childcarer. One family is interested in my profile and would like to know if I have the right to work there. May I ask some help in this issue and what visa is needed? Thank you so much and I look forward hearing from you soon.

  2. Tee says:

    I am a current student in the UK with a Tier 4 visa… If I wish to work in a job in asda tesco or etc… Will I be able to when its not related to my degree.. I am studying architecture engineering will it be okay if the job was 16 hours per week and partime will it be okay

  3. dan says:

    Good Day I would like to know if there are any options to obtain Uk work permit for Indian national.? I completed my Master Mariner &HND in nautical science from the UK. Look forward to hear from you

  4. Kat says:

    Hi. I am a PH citizen who received an offer letter from Ollie Hospital in UK for Assistant Operational Officer. I’ve been advised to send some documentation by email for the work permit and visa. Is there any chance you could help me check the authenticity of this entity as I cannot seem to find sufficient information about it on SEOs. Appreciate your response. thank you!

  5. EDWARD says:

    I am a grenadian citizen and I would like to migrate to the UK and get a tier 2 visa sponsorship. Can you please advise. Thanks

  6. vinni says:

    i am working in Thailand and now i want to work in UK having many position which i qualified but due to ‘Right Of Work’ status I can not apply for the jobs in UK. kindly tell me what I have to do now. how to get Right Of Work without any jobs offers

  7. Safaa says:

    I am a Biology teacher with a Masters degree in teaching Biology in Lebanon. I applied to a teaching job in UK. They are interested in my profile, and they need to know if I’m eligible to work in the UK. Could you offer help in this issue?

  8. Nico says:

    I am a US citizen who would like to settle in the UK. What is it that I need to have before I can apply for a work visa or leave to remain?

  9. Roberk says:

    I studied a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from Uganda.and would wish to work in the UK..kindly guide.How possibly can my wish come true.

  10. Lolo says:

    I’m 48 and would love to go work at the UK, I need info on how to get there, how to secure a job and everything I need to know like employment agencies please.

  11. King of Egypt says:

    I need to ask the UK people and government why you refuse us to come to your country and work or settle in although when you came to our countries you treated respectfully and with all hospitality???? Please be fair!!!!!

  12. Sushi says:

    I am a Grenada Commowealth Citizen. I would like to know how can i apply for work visa or migration to UK. At the momet i am in UK .So is it possible to apply for company or Supermarkets like Tesco Asda for a job or can you guide me which firm gives sponsorship visa in UK.

  13. Nizar says:

    I got employment offer letter from UK as Site supervisor. I am in India. I don’t know what is the procedures I have to do. I have to prove in any English test ? please guide me .

  14. Pee says:

    Good Afternoon! I’m a third-year student at the University of Cape Town from Zimbabwe and l will be graduating next year. I’m interested in moving to the UK after l graduate and to work there. My father works in the UK and has a British citizenship. I would like to know if l am eligible to work in the UK? Thank you

  15. Freelancer says:

    If a Croatian Citizen is offered to write as journalist for a UK media, living in Croatia and working from abroad (not living in UK), does one need the purple, blue or other certificate or is one eligible to work for UK media liberally, like other EU citizens?

  16. sonyfony says:

    I’m a UK citizen (born in the UK) but without required ID, so this law is a right pain and may cost me work, need to know all the info on birth cert. Before you can get a copy.

  17. Eagle says:

    Hi, since I was young I always dreamt of living and working in the great Britain. I am from Kenya. My dreams have never come true. What can I do?

  18. Master says:

    I am an Indian citizen. After my Bachelors in India, I have shifted to Germany on EU student visa for my Master’s degree and completed the study and continuing my residence here in Germany. I’m interested in a PhD position in the Northern Ireland and need to know, as asked in the respective application process, if I am entitled to work in the UK?

  19. wise one says:

    Good day,I’m currently studying Physics in one of the best colleges in Nigeria but have a determination to become a medical physicist.And I’m interested to go for Scientists training Program in UK after my graduation.I want to know if I’m eligible to apply for the STP.

  20. flower says:

    A’m a Ugandan citizen a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Business Studies with Education. A’m so much inspired by the jobs in UK, but what are the legal requirements for me to be eligible to work from there. Thanks Looking forward to hear from u

  21. Pishi says:

    My husband and I have Permanent resident card of Canada. Are we eligible to work in UK? I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely yours, Pershia Mohammadzadeh

  22. Maga says:

    Good afternoon, I’m a student at City University of London. I have a tier 4 visa and i want to get a job in UK while studying. So my question is am I eligible for working?

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Maga – If you are studying at above bachelors degree level you can work for up to 20 hours per week during term time. If your course is at a level below degree level you can work for up to 10 hours per week during term time.

  23. Curlin says:

    I’m St.Lucian I’m hopefully to be getting a job in the UK . Can I apply for a work permit to work in the UK. I thank you.

  24. Don says:

    I am a Newly Graduated Registered Nurse from Grenada. I am interested in moving to the UK to work. My Husband is also a professional plumber. I will like to know how can we can be eligible to work in the UK

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Don – There are several processes you will need to go through Nurses trained outside the UK and EEA must go through a 2-part application process to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Part one is a computer based multiple-choice exam – which should be accessible if your country. Part two is a practical objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) which is held in the UK. For more information about the application process vist the NMC page here. You and your husband will also need to apply for the appropriate work visas to come and work here in the UK. Details are here on the government website

  25. john says:

    Recently i have applied for a post called WORKSHOP INSTRUCTOR at UTC. But they are asking me to show any proof to show my eligibility to work in UK. What eligibility I need other than my educational qualifications and my experience. Pl inform me in this regard.

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