UK introduces online visa checks for migrant workers

UK Immigration Minister Damian Green announced this week that UK employers will soon be able to carry out online visa checks to verify whether migrant workers have the right to work in the UK.

The scheme, which will start in Spring 2012, will allow UK companies to access an online system allowing them to verify that the details contained on a foreign employee's biometric residence permit (BRP) are correct. This new process will also help companies that hire staff to avoid the large fines imposed for employing immigrants from outside the European Union who have forged or invalid work permits.

"It is vital that we work with employers to give them the tools they need to meet their obligations," said Green. "Our new online checking service will also turn up the pressure on those who wish to live and work here illegally."

The BRP will replace the wide range of documents UK employers currently used to check an individual's right to work in the UK. Non-EU citizens who are currently in the UK and applying to stay for longer than six months are issued with a biometric pass consisting of fingerprint, photographic and identity data held on a secure chip. Immigration Minister Green announced that from 29 February 2012 BRPs will also be issued to refugees and those granted permission to settle in the UK.

BRPs will also make it easier for UK employers to verify foreign individuals right to work in the UK while enabling real-time checks on UK visas and other necessary information. According to the UK Border Agency, around 600,000 BRPs have been issued since November 2008.

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