Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, employers have to check your right to work in the UK. Employers can be fined up to £20,000 per illegally employed employee or imprisoned for up to 5 years.

So whether you’re British or not, employers will ask you for proof of your right to work in the UK as part of the hiring process.

Are you an employer wondering how to check an employee’s right to work in the UK? GOV.UK outlines the eligibility checking process for you.

There are several ways to prove your eligibility to work in the UK depending on whether you’re:

  1. a British citizen
  2. an Irish citizen
  3. an EEA/Swiss citizen who’s been in the UK since before Brexit
  4. anyone else

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1. If you’re a British citizen

You can prove your right to work with one of the following:

  • a valid or expired British passport
  • your birth certificate AND an official letter from a government agency showing your National Insurance Number (for example, from His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs)
  • your certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen AND an official letter from a government agency showing your National Insurance Number

You only have the right to work in the UK if you have a British passport that shows you are a ‘British citizen’ on its information page. You won’t have the right to work in the UK and will have to apply for a visa if your British passport shows your citizenship as one of these:

  • British National (Overseas)
  • British Protected Person
  • British Subject
  • British Overseas Territories Citizen
  • British Overseas Citizen

Here’s what the nationality field of your passport should look like to prove your right to work in the UK:

The information page of a British citizen passport, showing the bearer is a British citizen and thus has the right to work in the UK. The passport page features a photo of the bearer, and its background features an outline of Southern England and Wales, a biometric passport symbol, and a sextant. The passport sample purportedly was issued by His Majesty's Passport Office.
Check your UK passport describes you as a British citizen.

2. If you’re an Irish citizen

You can prove your eligibility to work in the UK with one of the following:

  • a valid or expired Irish passport OR a valid or expired Irish passport card
  • your Irish birth certificate AND an official letter from a UK government agency showing your National Insurance Number
  • a current Frontier Worker permit

3. If you’re an EEA/Swiss citizen who’s been in the UK since before Brexit (31 December 2020 at 23:00)

As an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen who’s successfully applied for Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you should get an online share code from UK Visas & Immigration and share it with your employer.

If you’ve applied for Settled Status but haven’t heard back yet, you can use your digital or physical Certificate of Application to prove your right to work in the United Kingdom.

4. If you’re anyone else

The documents you need to prove your eligibility to work will depend on your personal circumstances, nationality, and visa type.

You can find out which particular documents you need to use to prove your right to work by using the government’s right to work check tool.

The documents you’ll need to supply may include your:

Are you a Ukrainian citizen without a passport or BRP? You can prove your right to work in the UK with a Form for Affixing a Visa (FAV) that has an entry clearance vignette sticker.

6 types of visas for working in the UK

If you don’t currently have the right to work in the UK, here are some of the most common types of visas people use to come to the UK for work:

  1. Graduate visa
  2. Global talent visa
  3. High potential individual visa
  4. Skilled worker visa
  5. Working holiday visa
  6. India young professionals scheme visa

1. Graduate visa

The UK’s graduate visa allows you to work for up to 2 years (or 3 years if you have a PhD) if you graduated from a British university. You’ll be able to work in any role (including self-employed work) and you won’t need to make a particular salary to be eligible for this kind of visa.

However, you won’t have access to any public funds, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit.

How much it costs: £822 per application, plus a required fee to access NHS services (£624 per year)

2. Global talent visa

The global talent visa is for highly skilled workers in a particular field, such as engineering, the arts, and science. You’ll need to provide proof of your talents when you apply for this visa. For example, you can highlight exhibitions you’ve held if you’re an artist.

Once you have this visa, you’ll be able to work in any role (or be self-employed) for 5 years, and you won’t need to inform the government when you change work.

How much it costs: £716 per person per application, plus a required fee to access NHS services (typically £624 annually per applicant).

3. High potential individual visa

You can apply for a high potential individual visa if you graduated from an eligible globally ranked university in the past 5 years.

If you’re approved for this visa, the length of your stay in the UK depends on your degree level:

  • Below PhD: 2 years
  • PhD or equivalent: 3 years

How much it costs: You’ll need to spend £210 to verify your qualification (£252 if you’re already in the UK), £822 on the application fee, and £624 per year you’ll be in the UK for the immigration health surcharge. Also, you need to have at least £1,270 in your bank account to show you can support yourself.

4. Skilled worker visa

The skilled worker visa is another way of obtaining the right to work in the UK. You can get a skilled worker visa if you meet all the following requirements:

  • are sponsored by an employer that’s licenced to sponsor work visas
  • do a job that’s on the job shortage list
  • make a specified minimum salary
  • provide proof that you speak English to a level set by the government

Your skilled worker visa can last for up to 5 years. You can’t switch jobs without getting sponsored for a new skilled worker visa by your new employer. You also won’t be eligible to access public funds.

How much it costs: Depending on the job you want, the application fee for a skilled worker visa varies between £719 and £1,500, plus a required £624 fee per year to access the NHS. Unless you’re exempt, you’ll also need at least £1,270 available in funds as proof that you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK.

5. Working holiday visa

A youth mobility scheme visa is better known as a working holiday visa. You can apply for a visa valid for up to 2 years* if you’re between 18 and 30 years old (or a New Zealander between 18 and 35 years old).

Once you have your visa, you can:

  • study in the UK
  • work
  • be self-employed

You can’t extend your stay or use public funds. The working holiday visa is only available if you have one of the following passports:

 

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Monaco
  • Canada
  • Iceland
  • San Marino
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • Uruguay (from 31 January 2024)
  • Andorra (from 31 January 2024)
  • British Overseas Citizen
  • British Overseas Territories Citizen
  • British National (Overseas)

 

How much it costs: A working holiday visa costs £298, plus a required healthcare surcharge of £470 per year. You’ll also need to show you have £2,530 in savings to support yourself.

Although you should leave your nationality off when you make a CV and build a cover letter, it can be handy to note ‘Right to work in the UK’ near your contact details.

* If you’re from New Zealand, Australia, or Canada, you may be eligible to extend your visa for a third year.

6. India young professionals scheme visa

Are you an Indian citizen between 18 and 30 years old? You may be eligible for an India young professionals scheme visa — but first you’ll need to enter an India young professionals ballot.

If your visa ballot and application are approved, you’ll be able to work in the UK for up to 2 years.

How much it costs: You’ll need £298 for the application fee, £940 for healthcare, and £2,530 in the bank to prove you can support yourself.

Aaron Case, CPRW

Aaron Case is a CPRW & Senior CV Expert at CV Genius with 8+ years of experience in writing and career resource spaces. Job seekers around the world and in various stages of their vocational journeys have landed fulfilling work thanks to his thoughtful career advice, which has also been showcased in publications like MSN, CareerAddict, Ladders, Best Colleges, Ivy Exec, Capitalism.com, and vidIQ. Currently living in beautiful Taiwan, Aaron has a BS in English & Communications from Liberty University bolstered by a professional credential from UC Berkeley. He’s collected practical experience while following various career paths, and he enjoys sharing the resulting insights with everyone. You can contact him through his LinkedIn profile or on Twitter. Please note, we don’t accept guest posts, and all such requests will be ignored.