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Can I work while waiting for my Indefinite Leave to Remain?

It is important to understand if you can continue to work in the UK whilst waiting on your Indefinite Leave to Remain application. Whether or not you can depends on your personal circumstances.

For more information on how IAS can help, call our team of advisors on  0333 305 9375  for immediate assistance.

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UK visas to ILR

For some, holding a UK work visa is a stepping stone to acquiring Indefinite Leave to Remain to settle in the UK on a more permanent basis. Typically, you must have been in the UK for 5 years before you can apply for ILR, so it may be necessary to renew your current work visa to become eligible.

If you already hold a valid work visa, you will have legal immigration status to work in the UK. If you are applying for ILR after a work visa, it is possible for you to continue to work whilst you await a decision, provided that you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain before your current visa expires. If your visa has expired before you apply for ILR, you hold no right to work in the UK anymore. When your leave expires will be based on your current visa and not the expiry date on your Biometric Residence Permit.

It is illegal to work in the UK without the correct permission and immigration status, therefore, you should ensure that you are submitting an ILR application before your visa expiry date.

For more information on how IAS can help, call our team of advisors on  0333 305 9375.

Immigration status and legislation

If you are eligible for ILR, but your current visa has expired or you no longer hold one, you will be prohibited from working in the UK until a decision has been made. If you apply after your visa has expired, you have no legal right to continue to work here and could face prosecution if you are found to be working illegally.

If you are applying for ILR after a visa before your current visa expired, and the Home Office is still making a decision once your visa has reached its expiry date, there are legal provisions that may allow you to continue to work for your current employer during the decision making process. This means that you may be granted leave under section 3C of the UK immigration Act.

This permission is in place to help anybody who has applied in time from being prosecuted as a person overstaying in the UK. To be eligible you must:

  • Apply for a variation of your current leave
  • Ensure your application for variation is submitted before your current permission expires
  • Have limited leave to remain or enter the UK
  • Have leave that expires before a decision on your application has been made
  • Have an application that is neither decided nor withdrawn

Do you need help applying for a Skilled Worker Visa? Our lawyers can assist you.

Working illegally in the UK

If you are found to be an illegal worker, you can face serious consequences, whether it is intentional or not. Without the correct right-to-work, you would be breaching immigration rules by continuing to work in the UK without permission.

It is also a criminal offense for an employer to allow you to work in the UK, knowing that you do not have the correct permissions. Facilitating illegal working is an offence taken very seriously and it could result in imprisonment or a substantial fine. Breaching immigration rules is dealt with severely.

For information on how you can ensure you have the correct right to work visa, you can get in touch with a trained immigration lawyer for expert advice.

My visa application has been delayed

No impact will be had on your continuation of leave as long as your ILR application was submitted before your existing UK visa expired, or, if your application is not invalid or rejected by the Home Office. In this instance, you become eligible for leave under section 3C of the Immigration Act, where your immigration status will remain protected until a decision letter has reached you.

As part of the application process, you may have to attend an appointment at a visa application centre to have Biometric information taken as part of your Biometric Residence Permit. It is important that you attend the appointment promptly after you are requested to do so to avoid making any further delays to your application.

You can often opt for a faster decision to be made using the super priority service, however, this comes at an extra cost- usually £800 per applicant. This allows your application to be prioritized during the decision-making process, but if your application is complex, it may take longer than promised.

How to prove your current immigration status to your employer

Your employer can use the Home Office online service to check your immigration status. It is important to note that this only works if a decision is made on your status before your current visa expires.

To prove your right to work if your UK visa has expired and you are awaiting a decision letter on your ILR, it can be more difficult to prove your immigration status. If you have no valid documents to prove your status, such as a Biometric Residence Permit, your employer can request a check from the Home Office. In order to do so, they will need the following information from you:

  • Your full name, date of birth, nationality and home address
  • Your job title and working hours
  • Your Home Office reference number, if you do not have one, a case ID

Your employer can also opt for a manual check if this suits them better.

Can I work in the UK whilst waiting for a first visa?

If you have submitted a visa application for the first time, you are not permitted to work in the UK whilst it is being processed. For instance, if you are applying for a first time Skilled Worker visa, you must remain in your home country until the Home Office make a decision and issue you with a visa. The UK visa application can take up to 8 weeks to be processed.

Before you can be granted a work visa and a Biometric Residence Permit, you may be required to have a valid UK sponsor who you will work for in the UK along with a genuine job offer.

How can Immigration Advice Service help?

Here at Immigration Advice Service, we understand the complexity of section 3C of the Immigration Act and how it can be challenging to understand if you qualify during the ILR or visa application period.

You can call our friendly team of advisors today on 0333 305 9375  for assistance with your ILR or visa application.

We can help you if you need help with your Skilled Worker Visa application.

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