Employing migrant workers



 

Employing asylum seekers

Q51 - Can I employ asylum seekers?

On 23 July 2002, the Government ended the employment concession for asylum seekers. Before this date, asylum seekers could apply for permission to work in the UK if they had not received an initial decision within six months of applying for asylum. There were no restrictions placed on the type of work they could undertake.

As a result of the ending of the concession, any asylum seeker who made an initial asylum application after 23 January 2002 will not be able to undertake any form of paid or unpaid employment, unless they have been granted the concession by the Home Office in exceptional circumstances. Each case is considered on its individual merits and it would be difficult to give a definitive list of circumstances where permission to work should be granted. For example, it would be appropriate to grant an asylum seeker permission to work if their claim remains outstanding for longer than 12 months without a decision being made on it.

Any asylum seeker who was granted the concession before 23 July 2002 will be able to work until they have received a final negative decision in the case where their claim is rejected. If they receive a positive decision on their claim, they will no longer be an asylum seeker, and will be provided with new documents by the Home Office to prove their entitlement to work.

Since the Government has abolished the concession, a decreasing number of asylum seekers are permitted to work here.

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Q52 - How will I know if an asylum seeker is still able to work?

After 1 May 2004, any asylum seeker who is able to work must demonstrate this through their Application Registration Card (ARC). This will state on the front and back 'Employment Permitted' if they are able to work.

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Q53 - An ARC is produced by a job applicant, which indicates that the holder is a national of an A8 country and that work in the UK is permitted. Will the card provide an employer with a statutory defence under section 8?

The Application Registration Card (ARC) has asylum and non-asylum options, but it is not currently issued to anyone other than those asylum seekers who are entitled to support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). ARCs are not issued to EU nationals, so there will be a decreasing number of ARC cards owned by A8 nationals.

If the applicant has an ARC issued by the Home Office stating that employment is permitted, then the document is enough on its own to provide the employer with a statutory defence.

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Q54 - What if an individual presents me with a Standard Acknowledgement Letter (SAL), or Immigration Service 96W (IS96W) letter after 1 May 2004, which states that they are entitled to work?

You should not employ anyone on the basis of seeing either of these documents after 1 May 2004, as they will not provide you with a statutory defence against prosecution under section 8. Any asylum seeker who is still able to work will need to show an Application Registration Card (ARC) to demonstrate this.

If a job applicant is an asylum seeker who can work, but does not have an ARC, you should advise them to call the Home Office on 0151 237 6375 for further information about how to obtain one.

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Q55 - If I am already employing an asylum seeker, who I employed on the basis of seeing their SAL or IS96W before 1 May 2004, should I ask for an Application Registration Card (ARC)?

No. If your existing employee produced a Standard Acknowledgement Letter (SAL), or Immigration Service 96W (IS96W) letter prior to 1 May 2004 and you established a defence for that person in line with the previous requirements, then you will not need to ask them for an ARC during the course of their employment.

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Q56 - What happens if an asylum seeker is given leave to enter or remain and how can they prove their entitlement to work in the UK?

Those asylum seekers who are successful in their asylum claim are awarded Refugee Status by the Home Office, and may stay and work here as long as this status remains valid.

Exceptional Leave to Enter, or Remain in the UK is a category of limited leave previously granted to asylum seekers on compassionate or humanitarian grounds. Exceptional Leave was replaced by two different forms of status, Humanitarian Protection and Discretionary Leave, on 1 April 2003.

An individual granted Refugee Status, Discretionary Leave or Humanitarian Protection may be able to prove their eligibility to work by showing a single document from List 1. This can be:
  • their passport or travel document, which is endorsed to show that the holder is exempt from immigration control, has Indefinite Leave to Enter, or Remain in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay; or
  • their passport or travel document, which is endorsed to show that the holder has current leave to enter, or remain in the UK and is permitted to take the employment in question, provided that it doesn't require the issue of a work permit.
An individual granted Exceptional Leave to Enter or Remain may also prove their eligibility to work by showing a single document from List 1. This can be their passport or travel document, which is endorsed to show that the holder has current leave to enter, or remain in the UK and is permitted to take the employment in question, provided that it doesn't require the issue of a work permit.

These individuals may also show a combination of the following documents from List 2:

An official document showing their permanent National Insurance Number, such as a P45, P60 or National Insurance Number card and It is true that there may be asylum seekers who have been awarded leave to remain, but need a National Insurance Number (NINO) to complete their combination of documents to establish their eligibility to work in the UK. However, the Government has introduced a scheme which gives asylum applicants the opportunity to complete the NINO application form at their asylum interview.

If the applicant is subsequently granted leave (Refugee Status, Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave), they will automatically be allocated a NINO by the Department for Work and Pensions. This negates the need for applicants granted leave to subsequently complete a separate evidence of Identity Interview and ensures that they receive documentation confirming their status and NINO simultaneously.

If the individual does not complete the application form at their asylum interview for any reason, they can apply for one at their nearest Jobcentre Plus, following their grant of status.

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