Currently, foreign nationals who hold biometric cards can choose to demonstrate their right to work in the UK either by showing an employer their physical card, or sharing their status via the Home Office's online service. This flexibility means that employers and workers can choose between the relative simplicity of producing and checking a physical document in each other's presence, and sharing immigration status online without having to meet in person.
The new guidance changes this though, so from 6 April 2022 holders of biometric cards will only be able to demonstrate their right to work in the UK using the Home Office online service. Employers will no longer be able to accept physical cards for the purposes of a right to work check, even if the card shows a later expiry date. The new rules will apply to new appointments only so it will not be necessary to carry out retrospective checks on employees who are biometric card holders and used their physical card to demonstrate their right to work in the UK before 6 April 2022. As ever, employers will retain a statutory excuse against any civil penalty for illegal working where initial checks undertaken in line with guidance that was in force at that time.
Employers are advised to familiarise themselves with the online right to work checking process in advance of these new rules coming into force.