While the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) has published a variety of guidelines within its five-tier system, there is still a huge amount of risk involved when diverse materials like potentially ambiguous letters from embassies and complicated visa extensions are presented by candidates.

Under the new regulations, hiring illegal staff will result in a civil penalty of up to £10,000 for each worker and the ‘naming and shaming' of your organisation by the UK Borders Agency on its website.

The HR industry is looking for a level of standardisation but sadly the Borders Agency does not yet have the technology necessary to offer that standardisation.   The danger is that HR professionals are being forced into a position in which they will be picking up the blame, and the fine, for failing to correctly identify ineligible candidates, without being given the means to make a correct assessment of the candidate's status.  On the surface there appears to be little to no dialogue between the UK Borders Agency and the HR professionals who are expected to implement their policies.

Here are ten ways to make yourself feel more confident that the person you are hiring has the legal right to work in the UK: 

1.     Reviewing the candidate's identity should be the first check you carry out, and you should not proceed until you have confirmed their identity. Employees should be able to provide you with two forms of photographic personal identification and one document confirming their address, or one form of photographic personal identification and two original documents, for example a utility bill or official communication. Ask for the candidate's signature for comparison. 


2.     Security - when looking at an employee's passport or visa, check that the pages are numbered correctly, that the photograph is not overly large, and that the expiry dates match up and that there are no spelling mistakes.  Blank pages of ID documents should be held up to the light to check the watermark. There is a useful list of authentic identity documents templates available on http://prado.consilium.europa.eu/en/homeindex.html.

3.     False tax documents, pay slips, degree certificates, headed paper from utility companies and fake documentation are all available online, so don't check documents in isolation.

4.     If the employee has a time limit on their stay you need to review and repeat check their documents every twelve months.

5.     You must let employees know that the documents they have presented to you will be checked for authenticity.

6.     When you begin the recruitment process, ask the candidate about their immigration status, but you have to ask this of every candidate, not just those you assume may be immigrants.

7.     Make sure potential employees understand that any offer of employment is conditional upon the satisfactory provision of the relevant documents.

8.     If you doubt that the candidate's documents are genuine, deal with the issue sensitively.  Ideally, ask the candidate to come back for a return interview to give you a chance to review the information provided and investigate its validity.

9.     Biometric residence permits have been issued to some categories of foreign nationals, those from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland, since November 2008. Check them as assiduously as you would any other document.

10. If you are concerned, or need clarification, contact the UK Borders Agency on 0300 123 4699 and log your query and their response.  


James Whittaker, Sales Manager, TSSI