On 17 January 2022, the Home Office issued further guidance in respect of the digitalisation of right to work checks.

This guidance sets out that from 6 April 2022, employers can only use certified Identity Service Providers (IDSPs) to carry out digital right to work checks on British and Irish citizens - as long as they hold a valid passport.

Although the guidance states that no IDSPs have been added to the certified list yet - with January nearly over and April not that far away, we expect to see some names appearing on the list soon. The worry is that the process to become certified will be cumbersome resulting in very few IDSPs - which in turn means employees may have little or no choice who they use, regardless of cost or reputation of the IDSP.

The digital right to work checks will be completed by IDSPs on behalf of employers. But the legal obligations around prevention of illegal working still fall on the employer despite another entity doing the check. Employers will need to consider how their current right to work processes fit with this proposed digitalisation. 

If an employer wishes to carry out the digital check themselves, the employer must become certified. Will this be expensive? Will this be straightforward? How much will it cost employers to use IDSPs? Many questions remain unanswered at this stage.

While digitalisation of the system appears to be a positive step forward, especially in a post-pandemic world - is this the start of the privatisation on the UK’s immigration system?