Press release

Online checks to turn up pressure on illegal workers

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

It will soon be much easier for employers to carry out checks to let them know whether foreign nationals have the right to work in the UK, Immigration Minister Damian Green announced today.

From next spring, firms will be able to go online to verify that the details contained on a foreign employee’s Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) are correct.

Damian Green said:

‘It is vital that we work with employers to give them the tools they need to meet their obligations.

‘Our new online checking service will also turn up the pressure on those who wish to live and work here illegally. The message is clear - the UK is no longer a soft touch for illegal workers.’

It was also announced today that from 29 February next year BRPs will be issued to more categories of foreign nationals, including refugees and those granted permission to settle in the UK.

BRPs, which hold a person’s fingerprints and photograph on a secure chip, are issued to non-EEA nationals with permission to remain in the UK for more than six months. They are an important step forward in the fight against immigration abuse and illegal working. 

BRPs are simplifying the process of checking an individual’s right to work by replacing the wide range of documents currently in use. The new online checking service for employers will enable quick and easy real-time checks on permits and their holder’s identity and right to work in the UK.

Around  600,000 BRPs have been issued since November 2008. From next year they will cover all those applying from inside the UK to remain here for more than six months.

To meet increased demand and provide foreign nationals with more locations around the UK where fingerprints and photographs can be taken, the Immigration Minister has today announced that a contract for the collection of this information has been awarded to the Post Office Ltd.

The contract will run for four years and Post Office Ltd will offer a network of around 100 locations from spring 2012.


Notes to editors

1. The UK Borders Act 2007 confirmed the introduction of regulation-making powers to require non-EEA nationals to register their biometric information and apply for a biometric residence permit (BRP).

2. Employers can currently download guidance on checking biometric residence permits and their security features from the UK Border Agency’s website and a helpline can be called to check validity.

3. The UK Border Agency awarded the Front Office Service (FOS) contract to the Post Office Ltd following a transparent and fair competition process. Further information can be found at

4. The Post Office Ltd will collect biometric data (fingerprints, digital photograph and electronic signature) and supporting documents from the applicant and send them securely to the UK Border Agency.

5. The contract will replace the biometric enrolment service for postal applications provided by the Post Office Ltd pilot, Identity and Passport Service and Public Enquiry Offices.  

6. For all the latest Home Office news, photos and video visit the media centre: Follow the Home Office on Twitter at

7. For more information please contact Ben Biddulph in the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3857 or the press office newsdesk on 020 7035 3535.