SOAS University of London

Human Resources

Guidance for checking eligibility to work in the United Kingdom

The School must ensure that all those engaged to undertake work have their right to work in the UK established before they commence employment or a work assignment by checking and copying certain original documents.

Right to work checks should be carried out at interview stage. This allows time for any issues arising from a right to work check to be identified and action taken.


Where it is not possible to conduct a right to work check at the interview, as a minimum, right to work checks should be carried out at least one day before employment starts. Where, in exceptional circumstances, the check can only be carried out on the first day of employment, the evidence of the right to work must be time and date stamped and must be carried out before the beginning of the employee’s working day.

The obligation to see evidence of right to work applies to all staff engaged by the School including but not limited to:

  • Permanent staff
  • Fixed term staff
  • Fractional staff
  • Casual staff
  • Volunteers
  • Student ambassadors
  • Invigilators
  • External Examiners

European Economic Area (EEA) nationals , which include UK and Swiss nationals, have a right of residency in the UK and no restrictions on the type of work they can carry out.

Non-EEA nationals may acquire the right to live, work or study in the UK in a variety of ways. However, there are restrictions on the type of work and the hours that many non-EEA nationals may work, depending on the type of visa that they have.

In certain cases, human resources may be able to apply for a certificate of sponsorship for a non-EEA national where they do not already hold the right to work in the UK. There is strict guidance for issuing certificates of sponsorship including, in the majority of cases, a requirement to advertise the post in accordance with the requirements of the designated occupational code. Please contact your Recruitment and Operations Officer for more information.

You should check and keep copies of original, acceptable documents before someone starts working. If a person has a restriction on the type of work they can do and/or, the amount of hours they can work, then you must not employ them in breach of these restrictions.

The documents that are acceptable for proving someone has the right to work in the UK are split into two lists.

  • List A documents show that the holder is not subject to immigration control, or has no restrictions on their stay, so they have an ongoing right to work in the UK.
  • List B documents show that the holder has been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period of time and, or, has restrictions on their right to work.

You should correctly follow Steps 1 to 3 below for every person you are looking to employ and every existing employee who has a time limit on their right to work. A Home Office checklist is available here.

Step 1

You must ask for and be given an acceptable document or combination of documents from List A or B.

You must then carry out a repeat document check at least once every 12 months if a person provides documents from list B to check if the person continues to have the right to work for you. Where a person’s leave to remain and right to work in the UK is due to expire within 12 months of the date of your last check, then you should carry out a repeat check at the point of expiry.

You must only accept original documents.

Step 2

You must take all reasonable steps to check that the document is genuine and to satisfy yourself that the holder is the person named in the document. You should also check that the document allows them to do the work in question.

Useful photographic examples of visa stamps can be found in here.

You should:

  • check any photographs are consistent with the appearance of the person; and
  • check any dates of birth listed are consistent across documents and that you are satisfied that these match up with the appearance of the person; and
  • check that the expiry dates of any limited leave to enter or remain in the UK have not passed; and
  • check any UK immigration endorsements (Biometric Residence Permits, stamps, stickers, visas) to see if the person is able to do, or can continue to do, the type of work you are offering; and
  • satisfy yourself that the documents are genuine, have not been tampered with and belong to the holder; and
  • if you are given two documents which have different names, ask them for a further document to explain the reason for this. The further document could, for example, be a marriage certificate or a divorce decree absolute, a deed poll or statutory declaration.

Human resources will review the copied documents and record the dates the original documents were seen and verified.

You should consult human resources if you have any concerns about the documents you are checking or the validity of any permits, endorsements or visa documents.

Step 3

You must take and retain a photocopy of the document.

You must take a copy of the relevant page or pages of the document. In the case of a passport or other travel document, the following parts must be photocopied or scanned:

  • any page containing the holder’s personal details. In particular, you should copy any page that provides details of nationality, their photograph, date of birth, signature, date of expiry or biometric details; and
  • any page containing UK immigration endorsements showing that the holder has permission to be in the UK and has the right to carry out the work in question.
  • You must copy other documents in full; this includes both sides of a Biometric Residence Permit.

Write on the copy of the document the date on which you took the copy.

Please note that you must sign and date the copies of the documents to certify that you have seen the original documents and enable human resources to record the date each check has been carried out.

You should then forward the copies to human resources together with the fractional or casual worker contract request in advance of any work being done.

List A and B documents

The documents that are acceptable for proving someone has the right to work in the UK are split into two lists.

  • List A documents show that the holder is not subject to immigration control, or has no restrictions on their stay, so they have an ongoing right to work in the UK.
  • List B documents show that the holder has been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period of time and, or, has restrictions on their right to work.

Photographic examples of the different visas and endorsements described in this section can be found on the gov.uk website:

List A – Documents which show an ongoing right to work

Any of the documents, or specified combination of documents, described in List A show that the holder has an ongoing right to work in the UK.

The following documents (1 – 6) establish the ongoing right to work in the UK on their own:

  1. A passport showing that the holder, or a person named in the passport as the child of the holder, is a British citizen or a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies having the right of abode in the United Kingdom.
  2. A passport or national identity card showing that the holder, or a person named in the passport as the child of the holder, is a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  3. A residence permit, registration certificate or document certifying or indicating permanent residence issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, or the UK Border Agency to a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  4. A permanent residence card or document issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, or the UK Border Agency to the family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  5. A Biometric Residence Permit issued by the UK Border Agency to the holder which indicates that the person named in it is allowed to stay indefinitely in the United Kingdom, or has no time limit on their stay in the United Kingdom.
  6. A passport or other travel document endorsed to show that the holder is exempt from immigration control, is allowed to stay indefinitely in the United Kingdom, has the right of abode in the United Kingdom, or has no time limit on their stay in the United Kingdom.

The following documents (7 – 13) establish the ongoing right to work in the UK only in combination with an official document issued by a previous employer or Government agency which contains the National Insurance number and name of the person:

  1. 7. An Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, or the UK Border Agency to the holder with an endorsement indicating that the person named in it is allowed to stay indefinitely in the United Kingdom or has no time limit on their stay in the United Kingdom.
  2. A full birth certificate issued in the United Kingdom which includes the name(s) of at least one of the holder’s parents.
  3. A full adoption certificate issued in the United Kingdom which includes the name(s) of at least one of the holder’s adoptive parents.
  4. 10. A birth certificate issued in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland.
  5. 11. An adoption certificate issued in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland.
  6. 12. A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.
  7. 13. A letter issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, or the UK Border Agency to the holder which indicates that the person named in it is allowed to stay indefinitely in the United Kingdom.

List B – Documents which show a right to work for up to 12 months

Any of the documents, or specified combination of documents, in List B, show that a person is allowed to work in the UK for a limited period of time.
The following documents (1 – 3) establish a right to work for up to 12 months in the UK on their own:

  1. A passport or travel document endorsed to show that the holder is allowed to stay in the United Kingdom and is allowed to do the type of work in question.
  2. A Biometric Residence Permit issued by the UK Border Agency to the holder which indicates that the person named in it can stay in the United Kingdom and is allowed to do the work in question.
  3. A residence card or document issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, or the UK Border Agency to a family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  4. The following documents (4 – 8) establish a right to work for up to 12 months in the UK only in the following prescribed combinations:
  5. A work permit or other approval to take employment issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, or the UK Border Agency in combination with either:
    1. a passport or other travel document endorsed to show the holder is allowed to stay in the United Kingdom and is allowed to do the work in question
    2. a letter issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, or the UK Border Agency to the holder or the employer or prospective employer confirming the same
  6. A Certificate of Application issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, or the UK Border Agency to or for a family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland stating that the holder is permitted to take employment which is less than 6 months old in combination with positive confirmation of the person’s right to work from the UKVI Employer Checking Service.
  7. An Application Registration Card (ARC) issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency or the UK Border Agency stating that the holder is permitted to take employment in combination with positive confirmation of the person’s right to work from the UKVI Employer Checking Service.
  8. An Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency or the UK Border Agency to the holder with an endorsement indicating that the person named in it can stay in the United Kingdom, and is allowed to do the type of work in question in combination with an official document issued by a previous employer or Government agency which contains the National Insurance number and name of the person.
  9. A letter issued by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, or the UK Border Agency to the holder or the employer or prospective employer, which indicates that the person named in it can stay in the United Kingdom and is allowed to do the work in question in combination with an official document issued by a previous employer or Government agency which contains the National Insurance number and name of the person.

EEA nationals

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU) but citizens of these countries have the same rights to enter, live in and work in the United Kingdom as EU citizens.

Croatian nationals

Since 1 July 2013, as EU nationals, Croatian nationals have been able to move and reside freely in any EEA member state. However, the UK has applied transitional restrictions on their access to the labour market. Under these regulations, a Croatian national who wishes to work in the UK and who is subject to the worker authorisation requirement will need to obtain an accession worker authorisation document (permission to work) before starting any employment.

This means that since 1 July 2013, a Croatian national will only be able to work in the UK if they hold a valid accession worker authorisation document or if they are exempt from work authorisation. In order to establish that a Croatian national has the right to work in the UK, you should check, validate and keep dated copies of original acceptable documents before they start working for you. In addition to the passport, you must see either:

  1. an accession worker authorisation document that confers permission to take the employment in question; or
  2. a registration certificate which includes a statement that the holder has unconditional access to the UK labour market

Employing students studying at SOAS with a Tier 4 visa

Staff engaging non-EEA students have a responsibility to ensure that the do not exceed the weekly hours allowed by their visa.

Students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are allowed to take limited employment in the UK, providing their conditions of entry to the UK allow this. Provided that expiry date of the tier 4 visa has not passed, a student on a tier 4 visa can work:

  • a maximum of 20 hours paid or unpaid work per week during term time for degree students;
  • a maximum of 10 hours paid or unpaid work per week during term time for students studying courses below degree level;
  • full time outside of term time only i.e. during vacations and following completion of your course


During term time, tier 4 students must not undertake paid or unpaid work which would bring their total hours to more than 10/20 per week across all the work being undertaken. This includes paid, casual work, volunteering, acting as a student ambassador/invigilator, and any other type of paid or unpaid work both for the School and elsewhere. Working hours are calculated on a weekly basis rather than a monthly average.

PhD students are required to book leave from their PhD studies, and have this confirmed by their supervisor, in order to take advantage of working full time.

Please note, that:

  • you must not offer to, or process, hours for a Tier 4 student which would breach a total balance of 20 hours per week. Working hours are calculated on a weekly basis rather than a monthly average.
  • Tier 4 students must not undertake paid or unpaid work which would bring their total hours to more than 20 per week across all the work being undertaken. This includes paid, casual work, volunteering, acting as a student ambassador, any other type of paid or unpaid work both for the School and elsewhere.

Further information

Please contact your Recruitment and Operations Officer for further advice if you are concerned about the authenticity of an individual's documentation or have any questions about visas.