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Employing foreign nationals

Updating author: Annabel Mace

Summary

  • It is a criminal offence to take on an employee who is subject to immigration control and who has not been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK, or does not have permission to work in the UK. (See The provisions of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006)
  • To comply with the provisions of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, employers should (prior to allowing a job applicant to start work) require the person to produce documentary evidence indicating that he or she has the right to work in the UK, and keep copies of the documents. (See The provisions of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006)
  • If an employer knowingly employs someone who does not have permission to work in the UK, or someone who it has reasonable cause to believe does not have permission to work in the UK, it could be prosecuted. (See The provisions of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006)
  • Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, employers have a duty to conduct follow-up checks on employees whose employment began on or after 29 February 2008 where, at the time of recruitment, the employees in question have been granted only limited leave to remain and work in the UK. A follow-up check will normally be required when an employee's permission to live and work in the UK expires. (See The provisions of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006)
  • Citizens of any country in the European Economic Area (EEA) (apart from Croatia) and of Switzerland are entitled to work in the UK without special permission. (See EEA nationals)
  • Either one document, or two documents in a defined combination, from one of two lists are acceptable as proof of an individual's right to work in the UK. (See List of specified documents)
  • Asylum seekers do not normally have the right to work in the UK. (See Asylum seekers and refugees)
  • Employers must reconcile the requirement under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 to check that anyone offered employment has the right to work in the UK, with the provisions on race in the Equality Act 2010 (which repealed and replaced the Race Relations Act 1976 from 1 October 2010), which make it unlawful to treat a job applicant less favourably on grounds of his or her nationality. (See Reconciling the need to check applicants' right to work in the UK against the duty not to discriminate)
  • There is a merit-based five-tier points system for non-EEA nationals wishing to work in the UK. (See Points-based system)
  • Under tier 1 of the points-based system, exceptionally talented and highly skilled individuals can gain permission to work in the UK without first having a specific job offer or sponsor. (See High-value migrants - tier 1)
  • Under tier 2 of the points-based system an employer can obtain permission to employ skilled workers who are non-EEA nationals provided that potential recruits score a sufficient number of points. The employer may have to satisfy the resident labour market test. (See Skilled workers - tier 2 and Recruitment search)
  • Employers employing non-EEA nationals must obtain a sponsorship licence to be able to sponsor migrants. (See Sponsorship licences and certificates)
  • A temporary workers scheme has been introduced under tier 5 of the points-based immigration system. (See Temporary workers - tier 5)

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