How to Get a Share Code Online and Prove Your Right to Work In the UK

Published on: May 23, 2024
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Key Takeaways

  • A right to work share code is a unique nine-character alphanumeric code provided by the UK government to substantiate an individual’s eligibility to work in the UK legally.
  • Share codes can only be generated by individuals, not companies, and are valid for 90 days.
  • Different scenarios exist to prove the right to work based on immigration status, such as British or Irish citizens, Commonwealth citizens, asylum seekers, and those with indefinite leave to remain.
  • Employers have responsibilities in verifying an employee’s right to work using the share code, including accessing the Home Office Online right to work checking service and retaining necessary documents.

In the wake of Brexit, the United Kingdom has emerged as a sought-after destination for exceptional talent, buoyed by its technological advancements and favourable tax incentives.

We’ve received numerous inquiries from companies keen to navigate the process of using a share code to affirm an individual’s right to work in this vibrant landscape. In response, we’ve meticulously crafted this comprehensive guide to assist employers in facilitating the entry of offshore talent.

Designed to be shared with their teams, this comprehensive resource provides all the required information, ensuring a smooth journey for all involved.

So, let’s delve into the details!

What is a share code UK?

A right to work share code is a unique nine character alphanumeric code provided by the UK government, such as A12 345 67G.

It is a crucial tool for non-UK nationals to substantiate their eligibility to work within the country. The code facilitates employment, providing employers with a reliable means to verify an individual’s scope of permissible employment activities within the UK and the duration one can legally work there.

Who can get a share code?

If you have a biometric residence card, permit, or a UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) account, you can use the https://www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-work/get-a-share-code-online service to get a share code.

You’ll have a UKVI account if you’ve ever —

  • Applied to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

  • Use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to verify your identity during a visa application process.

  • Created an account while applying for a visa, which means you have a confirmation from UKVI in your email.

  • Created one to get access to an eVisa (an online record of your immigration status) – you’ll have received an email about this.

How can you generate a share code in the UK?

In the UK, share codes can only be generated by individuals rather than companies. You can apply for a share code online, get one valid for 90 days, and send it to your employer.

You will need a biometric residence permit, biometric residence card number, passport, and national identity card to generate a code. Once you have these details, follow the steps below —

  1. Log into your gov.uk account using the ID you used for your initial visa application.

  2. A 6-digit code will be sent to your phone or email.

  3. You can view your immigration status and create a ‘share code’ once logged in.

Provide your employer with the share code and date of birth as proof of your right to work.

Apply for your share code on GOV.UK

Warning

You cannot use a share code obtained for a different purpose, such as proving your right to rent or demonstrating your right-to-work. Each type of code serves a specific function, and using it for a different purpose may not be valid.


Employee Guide to the Right to Work Share Code

Welcome to the Employee Guide to the Right to Work Share Code.

Here, you’ll find comprehensive information and instructions on obtaining and using the right-to-work share code. Whether you’re a new employee navigating the process for the first time or seeking clarification on specific details, this guide is designed to provide you with everything you need to know about the share code system.

What information do you need to provide to prove your right to work?

When your immigration status, residency, or citizenship comes into question, particularly during employment applications, government benefit claims, or specific service requests, proving your ‘right to work’ becomes imperative. In that case, you will eventually be required to prove your right to work with one of the following details —

  • Biometric Residence Permit Number — A unique identifier assigned to individuals granted permission to reside in the country. It serves as evidence of your immigration status and right to work.

  • Biometric Residence Card Number— Similar to the permit number, the biometric residence card contains crucial information about your immigration status and corroborates your right to work legally within the country.

  • Passport or National Identity Card — These official documents further validate your identity and citizenship status. They serve as primary forms of identification and are often required to confirm your eligibility to work.

By providing these documents, you not only establish your identity and immigration status but also affirm your lawful right to engage in employment within the jurisdiction.

Get a share code to prove your right to work online.

You can get a right to work share code if you are not a British or Irish citizen. An employer or employee can use the code to help them determine the —

  • Types of jobs an individual is allowed to do in the UK

  • Length of time you can work in the UK

What you need to prove your right to work to an employer depending on your immigration status

What you need to show your right-to-work to an employer depends on your immigration status as follows:


If you’re a British or Irish citizen

Prove your right to work in the UK with a current or expired British or Irish passport or passport card.

If you do not have any of the passports mentioned, you can use a UK birth or adoption certificate, an Irish birth or adoption certificate, or a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.

You must also provide an official letter or document from a previous employer or government agency containing your full name or national insurance number. For example, you could use a letter from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), or the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland.

Insight

If you have a passport or passport card, you can use an online identity service provider (IDSP) to verify your right to work. It’s worth asking your employer if they can facilitate access to such a service.


If you’re not a British or Irish citizen

If you are not a British or Irish citizen, you can verify your right to work using a share code or your immigration documents, such as —

  • Passport with Home Office Endorsement — Present your current passport with a Home Office endorsement, such as a stamp or vignette (sticker).

  • Immigration Status Document — If you lack a UKVI account and can’t obtain an endorsement in your passport, provide your immigration document. These documents are typically granted to refugees or individuals with humanitarian protection or discretionary leave.

  • Application Registration Card — If awaiting an asylum application decision, use an application registration card that states “work permitted,” meaning the holder is allowed to work.

By providing any of these documents, you can establish your eligibility to work in the UK, offering flexibility to choose the option that aligns with your circumstances.

You can select the option that suits you best, and your employer cannot reject your application solely because you presented an eligible immigration document instead of a share code.


If you’re waiting for a decision on an EU Settlement Scheme application

If you’re in the process of an EUSS application, you have two options to demonstrate your right to work —

  • Apply for a Share Code — Obtain a Share Code through the appropriate channels to validate your employment eligibility.

  • Utilise a Certificate of Application — If available, present a physical certificate of application issued by the Home Office to confirm your right to work.

  • Verification Process — Provide your certificate to your employer, who will verify your immigration status with the Home Office accordingly.


If you have indefinite leave to enter or remain

If you have an indefinite leave to remain (ILR), the exact requirements for non-British or Irish citizens will apply to you.

You can demonstrate your right to work in the UK with an online share code or specific immigration documents. These include a passport with a Home Office endorsement, an immigration status document issued to individuals seeking humanitarian protection, or an application registration card if you are awaiting an asylum application decision.


If you’re a Commonwealth citizen with right of abode

If you’re a Commonwealth citizen with the right of abode, you can prove your eligibility to work in the UK by presenting either a share code or specific immigration documents.

Eligible immigration documents for this category are the same for non-British or Irish citizens, including a passport with a Home Office endorsement, an immigration status document, or an application registration card if awaiting an asylum application decision.


If you’re an asylum seeker

Generally, asylum seekers do not have the right to work in the UK.

Please check the remarks section of your application registration card (ARC) from the Home Office to determine if you have the right to work. If it says ‘Work permitted,’ you can work anywhere in the UK.

If you’ve been waiting for more than 12 months for a decision on your asylum claim, you may be granted permission to work on jobs categorised as ‘Shortage Occupants List.’ If so, your ARC remarks section will have the acronym ‘SOL.’ See also Working in the UK while an asylum case is considered.

Therefore, to verify your right to work as an asylum seeker, simply show your ARC or an appropriate letter from the Home Office.


If you have limited leave to remain

With limited leave to remain, you can confirm your right to work by presenting your share code or a current password with the Home Office endorsement, which often comes as a stamp or vignette (sticker).


If you don’t know what type of leave you have

If you are uncertain about the type of leave you have, it is best to find an immigration adviser.


If you don’t have a National Insurance number

If your employer requires that you provide your national insurance number (NINo) to demonstrate your right to work, you’ll need to apply online.

Before you start your application process, have any of the following documents with you.

  • A passport;

  • BRB;

  • A national identity card from an EU country, Norway, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland.

Take and upload photos of yourself holding your passport and other identity documents to prove your identity.

If you can’t upload photos, your application may take longer, and you might need to attend an appointment or post photocopies of your documents.

After applying online, you’ll receive an email with your application reference number and instructions on further steps.

For assistance, contact the National Insurance number application helpline based on your location: England, Scotland, and Wales (0800 141 2079), Northern Ireland (0800 587 0024).

What to do if you think the Home Office ECS has made a mistake about your immigration status

If you feel that the Home Office has made a mistake about your immigration status and is stopping you from accessing work, benefits, or services, you can ask them to check it.

Simply fill out the request form to initiate the process and send it alongside supporting documents.

Form information review this GOV.UK resource: Ask the Home Office to check your immigration status is correct


How to Complete Employers Right to Work Checks

In this section, we explain how employers should use the right to work code to streamline the onboarding process for eligible employees while ensuring compliance with immigration laws and hiring regulations.

Should the employee not have a share code, the section also highlights other ways to prove an employee’s right to work, including using the employer checking service, an identity service provider, or performing a manual assessment of their documents.

Warning

Employers are responsible for confirming that their job applicants have the right to work in the UK and make sure their documents are valid. You can be fined up to £60,000 (for each illegal worker) or be sent to jail for five years for employing illegal workers.

How to Complete Employer Right to Work Checks

Once your employee provides their share code to prove their right to work, you can access and view the type of work the individual is allowed to do and the length of time they can work in the UK.

Access the Home Office Online right to work checking service through https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-work.

To validate their right to work, you will also need their date of birth and follow the steps below —

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the view right to work service page and click ‘Start Now.’

  2. `Enter the nine character alpha-numerical code provided and the individual’s date of birth.

  3. You’ll then see a confirmation of their name and right to work.

  4. Obtain the required information, including the jobs the individual is permitted to do and their employment duration.

  5. Verify that the photograph provided in their profile matches the individual.

  6. Save a copy of the profile page from the government’s online right-to-work check, ensuring the two check boxes are completed and retained securely, along with a clear copy of the individual’s passport. You will need a copy of this information for the duration of their employment and for two years after that.

Resource: Employers’ right to work checklist

Warning

Employers can no longer accept EU, EEA, Swiss passports, or ID cards to prove applicants’ immigration status.


Using the Home Office Employer Checking Service (ECS)

If you cannot check an employee’s immigration status using their documents or through the right to work online check, use the Employer Checking Service.

Access the Home Office service through: https://www.immigrationstatuscheck.service.gov.uk/employers/

You’ll need to provide the following information to request a check. Your employee or potential employee’s:

  • full name

  • date of birthjob title

  • hours worked per week

  • home address in the UK

  • nationality

  • Home Office reference number or case ID (if they have either) can be found in their

  • Application Registration Card or Certificate of Application.

Insight

As an employer, you can also use this service to verify the right to work for individuals awaiting a decision on their EUSS application or who have appealed their decision, as they may still possess the right to work. Additionally, you can utilise the ECS to confirm an individual’s right to work when the prospective employee presents a Certificate of Application valid for less than six months or an Application Registration Card indicating their permission to work.

Using the ECS in these circumstances is necessary because the documents provided are insufficient to establish a statutory excuse against a civil penalty if the individual is found to be working illegally.

If the person has the right to work in the UK, the Home Office will send you a Positive Verification Notice (VPN), valid for six months, which you must retain as proof of the check.


How to Use an Identity Service Provider (IDSP)

Certified Identity Service Providers (IDSP), also known as right-to-work check providers, enable employers to complete a right-to-work check for prospective remote employees with valid Irish passport cards or British or Irish passports.

Insight

Identity Service Providers (IDSPs) perform digital identity verification according to various standards or levels of confidence. The Home Office advises employers only to acknowledge checks conducted through an IDSP with at least a Medium Level of Confidence.

The process, also known as a digital right to work check, leverages Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) as follows:

  1. Establish that the candidate is eligible for a digital right to work check by confirming they have a valid UK or Irish passport or Irish passport card.

  2. Identify and engage a preferred certified IDSP provider from the official GOV.UK list.

  3. The prospective employee then uploads a digital copy of their passport or passport card and a selfie image in the IDSP system or application.

  4. The system then checks the document’s validity, confirms whether it belongs to the individuals pictured, and produces an IDVT check output.

  5. The employer must review the output to affirm that the photograph and biographical information, such as the date of birth, match the individual presenting for work to avoid chances of impersonation.

Warning

The employer should retain a copy of the IDSP report throughout the individual’s employment and two years after that. Despite utilising an IDSP for digital identity verification, the employer must ensure compliance with right-to-work checks. If an employee is discovered to be working unlawfully, later on, the employer (not the IDSP provider) could face civil penalties unless they have established a statutory excuse.


Confirming Right to Work by Checking a Job Applicant Original Documents (Manual Check)

To conduct a manual check —

  1. Get the individual’s original identity documents. Do not accept biometric residence cards or permits. Ask the applicant for a share code instead.

  2. Verify the validity of the documents in the individual’s presence.

  3. Securely copy and retain the documents, noting the initial check date (and any subsequent follow-up checks if the document expires).

  4. If the presented document has restrictions or an expiry date, record this date and conduct a new document check before or on the relevant future date.

Retain the documents throughout each individual’s employment and for two years after their employment ends.

While reviewing the documents, check that the –

  • Documents are original and unchanged;

  • Photos match across all the documents and the similitude of the person presenting them;

  • Date of birth is consistent across all the documents, and

  • Applicant has supporting documents, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree, showing why two documents may contain different names.

If the candidate is not a British or Irish citizen, it’s necessary to verify the following:

  • Ensure that the dates permitting the candidate to work in the UK have not lapsed.

  • Confirm that the candidate is authorised to perform the type of work you’re offering, including any constraints on working hours.

  • Students should be able to ascertain evidence of their academic study periods and vacation times.

See also: HMRC Tax Identification Number (TIN) Simplified!

What is a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)?

A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a physical card issued by the UK Home Office, serving as official documentation of the holder’s identity, immigration status, and any conditions regarding their stay in the UK. It contains the holders –

  • Details such as name, date, and place of birth, as well as the duration of their permission to reside in the UK.

  • Biometric data, including fingerprints and a facial photograph.

BRPs indicate whether the holder can work, study, or access public funds in the UK.

While you are not required to carry it at all times, holders must present their BRP and passport when entering or leaving the UK.

Resource: https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, also known as Permanent Residency, is an immigration status that grants foreign nationals the ability to reside and work in the UK without restrictions. To obtain ILR, it’s advisable to seek assistance from an immigration lawyer to guide you through the application process.

For those holding ILR, there are various ways to demonstrate your right to work in the UK. This can be done through an online share code or specific immigration documents. These documents may include a passport with a Home Office endorsement, an immigration status document for those seeking humanitarian protection, or an application registration card if you are awaiting a decision on an asylum application.

Right to Work Legislation in the UK

The right to work requirement is a provision outlined in the Immigration Act of 2014, which mandates employers to conduct specific checks to determine if a potential employee is authorised to work in the UK. These checks include:

  • Manual inspection of acceptable identity documents

  • Online verification using the Home Office Online Service

  • Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) assessments conducted by certified Identity Service Providers

Employers who neglect these right to work checks can incur civil penalties of up to £60,000 per unauthorised worker. However, they can also avail themselves of a “statutory excuse” (a legal defence) against liability by accurately conducting the right to work checks as outlined in the Immigration (Restrictions on Employment) Order of 2007.

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