Do you need permission to work in the UK?

It is the legal duty of an Employer to prevent illegal working. In order to avoid civil and criminal liabilities, the employers must recognise who can work in the UK without permission.

If you fail to identify or choose to ignore those migrants who require permission to work, you will face severe consequences as a result of your negligence.  If Immigration officers perform a ‘right to work’ check and it transpires that you have employees without the right to work at your work place, this can result in severe criminal and civil penalties. The maximum fine is £20,000 for each illegal worker (this increased from £10,000 on 16 May 2014). From 12 July 2016, the maximum prison sentence increased from two to five years.

People who do not require permission to work in the UK but may still need a visa are:

  • British citizens. Please note, that British Dependent Territories citizens, British nationals (overseas) and British overseas citizens do need permission to work in the UK. The employers must be careful when it comes to such people, as their passports look similar to those of British passports but may not contain the right to live and work in the UK.
  • Those who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
  • Those who have the right of abode in the UK, which gives the right to live in the UK permanently and work here without any immigration
  • EEA nationals. This includes nationals from eight of the countries which joined the EEA in May 2004 (Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovak Republic) and the two that joined in January 2007 (Romania and Bulgaria).
  • Commonwealth nationals with a UK ancestry visa who have a grandparent born in the UK or British Islands.
  • Swiss nationals.
  • Non-EEA family members of EEA and Swiss nationals and those with a retained or derivative right of residence who can produce a UK residence document to prove their status in the UK.
  • Some asylum claimants. The general rule is that asylum claimants are not allowed to work, but some may be issued with an Application Registration Card that confirms certain employment is permitted.
  • Persons granted refugee status or humanitarian protection.
  • Students from overseas may be allowed to work part-time during term time and full-time during their holidays.

Also, dependants who are successful in their application to accompany or join a migrant who has been granted permission to come to the UK for longer than six months will usually be given a general permission to work.

Unless stated above, an individual is likely to need specific immigration permission to work in the UK under one of the tiers of the Points Based System (PBS) or one of the other non-PBS work-related categories

Individuals who are currently allowed to work in the UK without the need for specific permission may well change drastically when the UK leaves the EU.

Fahad Tanveer


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