Mar 30 2020

Right to Work Check Requirements Relaxed

United Kingdom

At a Glance

  • Effective March 30, 2020, employers in the United Kingdom can complete a right to work check through video call without having the employee’s original documentation, as part of relaxed right to work check requirements implemented while the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 measures are in place.
  • Once the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 measures end, the previous requirements will resume with prior notice from the Home Office.
  • Please access Fragomen’s dedicated page for COVID-19 updates for more information on other restrictions and concessions offered in the United Kingdom and other countries.

The situation

Effective March 30, 2020, the Home Office has relaxed right to work check requirements while the United Kingdom is subject to COVID-19 measures.

A closer look

  • New relaxed process. The new right to work check process involves the worker submitting a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email to the employer or using a mobile application. The employer would then conduct a video call with the worker during which they would hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents. A retrospective in person right to work check must then be completed within eight weeks of restrictions being lifted.
  • Online right to work process. If the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme, the employer can use the online right to work checking system and subsequently validate their identity on a video call - the applicant must provide the employer access to view their details on the system.
  • Documentation not available. Employers must take steps to ensure that individuals do not face discrimination as a job applicant or employee because they are unable to show their documents. Employers can contact Fragomen for further advice should this situation arise.



Previously, those without pending UK visa applications or whose permission to work could not be verified by an online right to work check were required to provide their employer with original documentation. Video right to work checks were also possible if the employer held the original documentation.

Other concessions implemented by the Home Office during the COVID-19 crisis include:

  • Foreign nationals holding visas that expire between January 24, 2020 and May 31, 2020 and who are currently unable to return to their home country due to travel restriction or self-isolation can extend their visas until May 31, 2020
  • Foreign nationals can apply online to switch to a long-term visa until May 31, 2020, even where this would normally require exit and application from abroad.



All employers must complete a right to work check on or prior to any employee’s start date and again prior to expiry if the employee has time-limited permission to work in the United Kingdom.

Valid right to work checks establish a statutory defence if the Home Office identifies that the employer hired illegal workers.

Looking ahead

  • Resumption of previous requirements. Once the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 measures end, the previous requirements will resume with prior notice from the Home Office.
  • Revalidation. All checks conducted during COVID-19 measures under the new relaxed requirements will need to be revalidated within eight weeks of the end of the COVID-19 measures. Employers should keep record of all right to work checks conducted under the relaxed requirements to ensure that the revalidation is completed.
  • Illegal working. It is still an offence to knowingly employ someone who does not have the right to work in the United Kingdom - if, at the point of carrying out the retrospective check, it is found an employee does not have permission to be in the United Kingdom, employment must end.


Please access Fragomen’s dedicated page for COVID-19 updates for current information.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].