The Home Office has updated the employer’s guide to right to work checks with further detail about digital identity verification.

What is digital identity verification?

Identification Document Validation Technology (“IDVT”) is a means of digitally verifying an individual’s identity. In some cases, from 6 April 2022, employers will be able to use accredited providers of IDVT (“IDSPs”) to conduct right to work checks on those who do not currently fall within the scope of the Home Office online checking service.

What does the updated guidance say?

Much of the updated guidance sets out details of the certification and technical requirements that will need to be met by IDSPs, but three key points for employers to be aware of are:

  • For the purposes of using IDSPs to verify eligibility for right to work checks, only valid British and Irish passports, and valid Irish passport cards will be accepted.

This means that if, for example, an individual is relying on an expired British or Irish passport/passport card to prove their right to work, the employer will still need to carry out a manual check on the original document to establish a statutory excuse against a civil penalty.

  • When using an IDSP, employers must still confirm the image provided to the IDSP is a true likeness of the prospective employee.

This can be confirmed either face to face or via a video call. Where it is reasonably apparent that the prospective employee is not the individual linked to the identify verified by the IDSP, the employer won’t establish a statutory excuse. Employers also remain responsible for the check. They must ensure that the IDSP selected meets the specified requirements, and that adequate training is provided to staff, for example on what information staff must obtain from an IDSP to confirm verification of identity.

  • For non-British and Irish nationals, the use of IDSPs will not provide a means to check their right to work.

For those with a biometric residence permit or card, or frontier work permit, the online checking service must be used from 6 April 2022 as these documents will be removed from the list of acceptable documents for conducting manual checks. For those with digital status, (including most individuals with status under the EUSS, and those with “eVisas”) the online service must already be used. For others, manual checks will still need to be carried out, though until and including 5 April 2022, employers can still carry out Covid-19 adjusted checks following the Home Office guidance.

What should employers do now?

  • Employers should start thinking now about how their onboarding processes may need to change and about how to ensure staff are up to speed.
  • Flowcharts for the different types of checks may prove useful as an aide memoire for those dealing with right to work checks.

These changes are in keeping with the Home Office’s desire to digitise the UK immigration system, and with the positive reception that remote right to work checks have had from employers. It remains to be seen how the market for IDSPs in this area will develop, and the additional costs that employers will have to bear in using IDSPs.

For more information, please contact Chetal Patel or Alice Bennington.