Hiring refugees: what do businesses need to know and what does HR need to do?

On 21 June 2023 our Legal Director,  Karen Kaur commented on the legal implications from an immigration compliance perspective for HR and Employers to consider before recruiting asylum seekers. 

Read the full article here.

Legal considerations for hiring refugees

Businesses hoping to engage in this would need to consider legal implications from an immigration compliance perspective before recruiting those individuals.

Employers need to understand the difference between refugees and asylum seekers to comply with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) guidelines. Those who are asylum seekers are seeking protection from their home country and are yet to be recognised as a refugee by the host nation, therefore, these individuals are awarded separate statuses and their right to work checks must be conducted as per UKVI guidance.

Asylum seekers

For an asylum seeker, employers need to look out for their application registration card (ARC) –  which is set to be discontinued – or biometric residence permit (BRP), which is the card used by asylum claimants to demonstrate they have made an asylum claim in the UK.

Only certain individuals are awarded permission to work as asylum seekers and they will be restricted to working in jobs on the shortage occupation list published by the Home Office. Their ARC will state ‘work permitted shortage OCC’. Any permission to work granted will come to an end if their claim is refused and any appeal rights are exhausted.

Businesses will be able to accept a “new biometric style or an old-style ARC”, provided they verify the right to work and any work restrictions “by obtaining a positive verification notice (PVN) issued by the Employer Checking Service”. 

Caution is advised here as this will expire six months from the date of the initial PVN being made and a “follow-up check must be undertaken” if the statutory excuse is to be retained. 


For those who hold refugee status, UKVI awards them with unrestricted access to the UK labour market.

A refugee can demonstrate their right to work through the Home Office online service if they have a BRP or immigration status document – which is an older form of document issued to refugees and certain other categories of migrant prior to the introduction of the BRP. This requires a manual check.

Contact us

If you are unsure about the latest legislation and sponsor licence duties we can offer advice. Contact us to arrange a free initial consultation.


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