Eligibility To Work In The UK

Some people are automatically entitled to work in the UK. Others may have restrictions on whether they can work, how long they can stay and the type of work they can do.

It is important to follow set procedures and to ascertain whether or not a person is eligible to work in the UK before employing them. If you ignore this, you run the risk of facing prosecution for illegally offering work to somebody who is not eligible to take that job.

It’s worth remembering, when checking an employee’s eligibility, that many people from minority groups who live in the UK are British citizens so it is necessary to ensure that your recruitment process does not discriminate against a person on the basis of their Racial Background.

Checking a Person’s Entitlement to Work in The UK

It is a criminal offence to employ anyone who is subject to immigration control who doesn’t have the necessary paperwork to work in the UK or to do the kind of job you’re offering. The maximum penalty is £5000 per illegal employee upon summary conviction in a magistrate’s court. However, there is no upper limit to the fine imposed by a Crown Court following indictment.

There are, by law, two 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. You must ask prospective employees to produce one of the original documents from list 1 or two of the original documents from the combinations in list 2. They must be original documents which can be authenticated, not photocopies or faxed copies, and must be on the list as outlined by the Home Office. For example, a P45 or P60 no longer provides an employer with a statutory defence if produced on its own as it’s now on list 2 so another valid document from that list is required by law in addition.

You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that your potential employee is the rightful owner of the presented documents. Any specific information within a passport or other travel document should indicate that the individual is permitted to undertake the kind of work you are offering. In addition, you should ensure that you follow the revised Code of Practice on racial equality in employment which was introduced in 2005 and became statutory in April 2006. More details about this can be obtained from the Commission of Racial Equality (CRE).

It is also crucial to keep copies of all documents in their entirety as the Immigration Service can examine your right to defence if they suspect anyone illegally working for you. It isn’t appropriate, however, to keep hold of all the original documents. They should be copied in full and the originals returned to the owner. You should also keep hold of these copied documents for a minimum of 3 years after the employee has ceased working for you.

Who Doesn’t Need Permission to Work?

The main groups not subject to immigration control and who are employable without restriction are:

  • British citizens
  • Commonwealth citizens with the right of abode in the UK
  • European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals – although some will need to register with the Home Office. * NB – It’s important to contact the Home Office to establish if a potential employee comes from one of the permitted countries in the EEA.
  • Family members of nationals from EEA countries and Switzerland, providing that the EEA national is lawfully residing in the UK.

Other Employment Routes

In addition to the eligibility criteria already mentioned, there are also managed migration routes available to allow overseas nationals to work in the UK without work permits. These include those entering under the ‘Highly Skilled Migrant Programme’ which is an individual migration route for highly skilled people to come to the UK for work or self-employment opportunities. Other routes include the ‘Working Holidaymaker Scheme’ whereby Commonwealth citizens between the ages of 17 and 30 can come to the UK for an extended holiday of up to 2 years and are entitled to work for up to 12 months during their stay under the scheme.

Students from outside the EEA membership countries who are over 16 are also allowed to take some work in the UK, providing they adhere to the conditions of entry and are given leave as a student. However, there are conditions. You can only employ a student for up to 20 hours per week during term-time, except where the placement is to meet the definition of their sandwich course or internship. You can employ them full-time outside term-time as long as they still have valid leave. A student from outside the EEA must neither work outside their valid leave, engage in business or self-employment, provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer nor must they fill a permanent, full-time vacancy.

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

33 thoughts on “Eligibility To Work In The UK

  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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