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Early details of new digital right to work check tool published

11 January 2022

The Home Office has published preliminary information on the new technology employers will be able to use to make digital right-to-work checks for employees who are currently outside the scope of the existing online systems.

This is contained in a policy paper, Identity Document Validation Technology in the Right to Work and Right to Rent Schemes, and DBS pre-employment checking, which was published on 27 December 2021.

What is Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) and what will it be used for?

During the pandemic, the Home Office introduced adjusted right to work checks, which have assisted employers to carry out their right to work checking responsibilities without having to handle physical documents. This has been well-received by employers, but the downside of the process is an increased risk of individuals being able to use fraudulent documents to secure employment.

Due to the permanent trend towards hybrid and remote working and pressure from employers, in September 2021 the Home Office agreed that it would be appropriate to end adjusted right to work checks after 5 April 2022, once a more secure long-term solution is in place to facilitate remote manual checks without the need for physical document handling.

IDVT is the digital tool the Home Office intends to make available after adjusted right to work checks end. The new tool will allow individuals who are not able to access existing online right to work checks, such as British and Irish citizens, to upload images of their physical right to work documents and have these analysed remotely to verify their identity.

IDVT will also be used to carry out right to rent and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

The tool will be offered by one or more private sector identity service providers, who will have to apply for and receive certification under the government’s UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework. Details of the certification process are due to be released later this month.

When will IDVT be available?

Enabling legislation is due to be in effect from 6 April 2022, so this is the earliest date the technology can go live.

Intending service providers will only have a short timeframe to complete the certification process, and it is not yet known whether the technology itself will be ready to deploy by 6 April 2022. If IDVT is not ready on time, it is highly likely that adjusted checks may be extended for a further period.

What will using IDVT cost?

Although it seems clear that individuals will interact with the tool to upload their documents, no details have been provided yet on how employers will access it, and what the cost will be. It seems most likely that any cost will be borne by employers.

The use of private sector identity service providers and a user-pays system is likely to prove controversial as it will create a two-tier system of free online right to work checks and paid-for IDVT checks.

Will manual right to work checks still be allowed?

On 17 December 2021, the Home Office confirmed it will not be possible to do manual right to work checks on biometric residence permits, biometric residence cards and frontier worker permits after 5 April 2022. For further information on this change, see our article here

It is not yet clear what other changes to manual right to work checks will be made due to the introduction of IDVT, including whether or not there will still be the option to carry out a manual check where right to work can be verified using IDVT. It would seem sensible to retain this capability, particularly if using IDVT will incur a charge.

In the first instance, we will need to see the detail of regulations due to come into effect from 6 April 2022, but the general trend at the Home Office is to move towards using digital processes wherever possible (see detailed information on this here). 

Need more information?

We will be monitoring further developments and will provide updates once further details are available. 

We are also running our next Immigration Law Academy on 29 and 30 March 2021, which includes a detailed analysis of the current and upcoming requirements for right to work checks. For further information and to register, click here.

If you have any specific queries around these changes or right to work requirements, please get in touch with a member of our  Immigration Team.

 

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