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General Immigration advice

This page covers the right to work, bank accounts, driving licences, health charges, appeal rights and administrative review and removals from the UK


Employment status: 'Right to Work'

The Immigration Act 2016 makes working illegally a criminal offence. It will carry a maximum custodial sentence of six months and/or a fine.

Employers can currently be fined up to £20,000 for employing someone who does not have the right to work due to their immigration status. They must carry out a number of checks to ensure that they comply with the law against illegal employment.

The Home Office advises that all employers request to see specific documentation to confirm their employee’s immigration status and their right to work lawfully in the UK. Checks should be carried out routinely for new employees and existing staff should continue to be checked periodically.

Typically you might be asked to provide a:

  • Valid passport – which has a stamp or endorsement showing you are allowed to work by virtue of your status (i.e. you are a British citizen, or have Indefinite Leave to Remain), or states the date of your permission to remain in the UK which has not expired. Expired passports will not be ‘valid’.
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP Card) – which has not expired and states you have Indefinite Leave to Remain, or have limited Leave to Remain with permission to work.
  • National identity card – showing that you are a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  • Registration Certificate, Family Permit or Permanent Residence document (or BRP Card) – issued by the Home Office stating you are a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland or a non-EEA family member.

Additional information may be needed if you are unable to provide sufficient documentation, or your immigration status is unclear.

Your employer should not ask to keep your original documents. Instead they are required to keep photocopies, recording the date when the original documents were checked. They should also note any restrictions such as limits on the number of hours you can work, or the type of work you can do, and they should abide by these restrictions.

Your employer can make an online request to the Home Office’s Employers Checking Service to obtain a ‘Positive Verification Notice’ confirming your right to work. This is commonly carried out for prospective employees or for employees who do not have original documentation which confirms their right to work (in accordance with the Home Office’s check list). If an employer obtains a Positive Verification Notice, they will have a defence against a civil penalty if they unknowingly employ an illegal worker.

An employer who can show that they conducted sufficient checks of documentation and have kept copies, may have a defence (known as a ‘statutory excuse’) against a penalty if they unknowingly employed an illegal worker but can show they carried out sufficient checks.

As an employee you also have a legal obligation against illegal working and should cooperate by providing evidence of your immigration status and right to work.

If you are an RCN member, we can provide detailed advice about any difficulties you are experiencing proving your lawful right to work in the UK. Please contact us with your membership number, details of your current immigration status and information about the type(s) of immigration status documents you have.

Bank accounts

Banks and building societies must not open a current account for a person who is not in the UK or requires, but does not have, leave to enter or remain. The bank or building society must carry out a status check to identify whether the person is ‘disqualified’ through a specific anti-fraud organisation or data-matching authority.

This will affect:

  • anyone who is not an EEA national and requires Leave to Remain in the UK but does not have it
  • family members of a person without leave, who wish to open joint accounts.

It will not affect:

  • people with Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • British Citizens
  • anyone who has valid Leave to Remain in the UK.

If you are an RCN member our Immigration Advice Service can provide a letter of support confirming your immigration status in the UK. If you would like assistance, please contact us. You will need to provide:

  • the date you came into the UK
  • the date you renewed and were granted any visas
  • confirmation of any outstanding applications you have made (Recorded Delivery number)
  • copy of your passport, current and expired visas
  • email/letter from your employer confirming you are working under the terms of your visa (if appropriate).

Immigration Act 2016 update: The Act provide Banks and Building societies with further immigration duties. The Act will require banks and building societies to make regular enquiries as to the immigration status of their customers. They will also enable banks to freeze or close the accounts of those found to be residing in the UK illegally.

Driving licences

In the UK the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency) are responsible for issuing driving licences. If you require leave to enter or remain in the UK but do not have it, you cannot be issued with a driving licence by the DVLA because you do not meet the ‘residence’ requirement.

Your driving licence could be revoked if you do not have the requisite leave. If you fails to surrender your licence without reasonable excuse you will be guilty of a criminal offence. If you driving licence is revoked you have a right of appeal to a magistrates’ court (or Sheriff’s court in Scotland). The court will not be allowed to determine whether you should have been granted leave nor will it be allowed to take into account the fact that you may have been granted leave after the revocation notice.

This affects anyone who is not an EEA national and requires Leave to Remain in the UK but does not have it.

It does not affect:

  • people with Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • British Citizens
  • anyone who has valid Leave to Remain in the UK.

If you are unsure about your immigration status, we can advise you before you contact the DVLA and provide you with a letter of support.

You will need to provide:

  • the date you came into the UK
  • the date you renewed and were granted any visas
  • confirmation of any outstanding applications you have made (Recorded Delivery number)
  • copy of your passport, current and expired visas
  • An email/letter from your employer confirming you are working under the terms of your visa (if appropriate).

Immigration act 2016 update: The Act creates a new criminal offence of driving when unlawfully resident in the UK where the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe they are not lawfully resident in the UK.

Health charges

If you are applying for an entry clearance visa or leave to remain in the UK you will have to pay an immigration health charge or levy alongside the relevant visa application fees.

NHS Trusts will employ Overseas Visitor Managers who are intended to determine whether a patient should be charged for hospital treatment and if so, will administer the process.

If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain you will not have to pay this charge.

GP consultations will remain free. If you are an overseas visitor who has an emergency and needs immediate treatment this should be provided free of charge for up to 14 days. Pre-existing conditions, which have become exacerbated during your in the UK are also included in such treatment.

We can provide a letter of support if this is required by an Overseas Visitor Manager or other similar NHS representative. If you would like assistance in obtaining a supporting letter please contact us.

You will need to provide:

  • the date you came into the UK
  • the date you renewed and were granted any visas
  • confirmation of any outstanding applications you have made (Recorded Delivery number)
  • copy of your passport, current and expired visas
  • email/letter from your employer confirming you are working under the terms of your visa (if appropriate)

Appeal rights and administrative review

You are only be able to exercise the right to appeal in the UK on human rights grounds, if “serious irreversible harm” would occur or if it will be a breach of your human rights if you are unable to appeal from the UK.

If your application has been refused you can request an administrative review (as well as a further second review) of the decision by the Home Office if it is specified as eligible in the Immigration Rules. There is an £80 fee. Exemptions from fee payments and fee waivers are available in certain situations.

The only other recourse is to pursue an application for Judicial Review of the decision. This applies where a decision is unlawful or unjust.

If you made your application before the expiry of your leave, you can remain and work lawfully under the same conditions as previously while the Home Office considers your administrative review, in accordance with the Immigration Act 1971 s3C.

We can assist with lodging an appeal to the Immigration tribunal, and preparing and representing you at appeal.

Removals from the UK

The Secretary of State can remove a person from the UK if they require leave to enter or remain but do not have it.

Written notice of removal does not need to be given, although the Immigration Minister has confirmed that written notice will be given.

Family members can be removed without a specific separate notice.

This will affect those:

  • without a lawful basis to be in the UK
  • informed that they are facing Administrative Removal from the UK.

It will not affect:

  • people lawfully present in the UK with Limited Leave to Remain
  • people with Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • British citizens.

We do not assist with representation in respect of removal from the UK, but may be able to signpost you to alternative sources of support.