Guide to work permission for asylum seekers by Migration Justice Project

Legal Updates

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Most people who have claimed asylum in the UK are initially prohibited from working. However, the immigration rules allow for people seeking asylum to request permission to work if you have been waiting for more than 12 months on your asylum claim “through no fault of your own”. This may be 12 months after initially claiming asylum, or 12 months after submitting further submissions to be considered as a fresh claim.

Almost everybody granted permission to work under this policy is only allowed to work in a job on the shortage occupation list. Most jobs on the shortage occupation list are specialised (like civil engineers, architects, or classical ballet dancers).

However, in 2021 and 2022 the list was expanded to include positions like nursing (and nursing assistants), and care work. This opens the possibility of employment for people seeking asylum who would not otherwise be able to carry out jobs on the list.

The Migration Justice Project at the Law Centre NI has drafted a guide to help people seeking asylum understand how and whether they can apply for permission to work while their claim is pending. The guide is available in a number of languages: English, Tigrinya, Somali, Farsi, and Arabic.

It includes information about applying for and receiving permission to work, what jobs you can apply for, applying for a National Insurance Number, and what this could all mean for your asylum support entitlement.

48 comments on “Guide to work permission for asylum seekers by Migration Justice Project

  1. Kunstlerkopf on

    Dear RTR Team,

    Thank you for providing all the vital information for our asylum journeys. This information means a lot to us newcomers, as getting to know complex procedures certainly is a job on its own.

    My question today in regards with an ARC/BRP I just today received. It states WORK PERMITTED OHER.

    I searched to find the eligibility of jobs for this category, but could not find an answer at all. Everyone else I asked for guidance, was not able to provide an answer what this other means for my work permit.

    Hoping you could shed a light to my inquiry, and hopefully for many other who might have received the same opportunity to work while asylum case pending, and are a bit confused what it means.

  2. Annet on

    I got a WORK PERMIT in August but I haven’t got a job yet everywhere i apply for a job they want to verify my work permit from the Home Office it has not taken six weeks I would like you to advise please

    • RtR on

      Hello Becky, thank you for your comment. People seeking asylum in the UK can apply for work permission if they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim from the Home Office for 12+ months.

      If you have received your BRP card for another type of immigration status in the UK, you can look at your Home Office letter which granted you the status for information about whether or not you can work. You can also visit the website to find out more about your type of immigration status.

  3. Ingrid on

    Hello team, can I apply for work permit even if my asylum claim was refused by the home office in December 2021 and my appeal has been pending till date?

  4. ahmad on

    Hello i m here over 12 months i applied work permit . How long it takes to get decision for work permit? thank you

  5. Nazish Yasir on

    I want to knw when can i get right to work one year after claiming asylum or one year after screening interview? plz guide

  6. Iindsey on

    Hi, I’m supporting an asylum seeker who has experience/graduate skills on the shortage list- highly employable, we know an employer desperate for his skills- is it right that he can only get employment after waiting 1yr+ from making his claim?

    • RtR on

      Hello Lindsey. Yes, people seeking asylum can only apply for work permission on the Shortage Occupation List if they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for 12 months or more.

  7. Adam on

    Hi RTR team,
    I got my work permit and working at a job listed on the shortage occupation list for more than a year now. I informed Home Office and send relevant documents to inform them. However they have not get back to me or changed the conditions of my asylum support. Though, they acknowledged my situation during a correspondence for a separate matter.
    My question is, would home office come back later to ask for refund for the support they provided during the time I was working.

    • RtR on

      Hello Adam,

      Thank you for your query. I’m sorry to hear of the confusing situation that you are in. At Right to Remain, we are not lawyers so we cannot provide specific legal advice. What I would suggest is that you read our Toolkit page on ‘Asylum Support’ and specifically the section on how asylum support may interact with work, because everyone’s situation is different. You can access the page here:

      Best of luck, and I hope you get some clarity soon.

  8. Folakemi Ogunlusi on

    Hi please I got my right to work card and I applied for NI but I wasn’t given please what can I do and can I apply for jobs before I get my NI

  9. behzad on

    Hello ,
    I was Student while claiming asylum , and I have got my ARC card with written “work permitted student ”
    I have quit the course and university has removed the sponsorship. I have found a job and the employer has run ESC check and home office has replyed that i am work permited with 20hours per pweek during the term and full time during holidays when , since i am not enganed with University can i work full time or i need sponsor ?

  10. Ola on

    I just claimed asylum yesterday as I’m destitute with my kids and I was given an initial accommodation. I had an active visa before claiming asylum so the documents I got from home office states I’ve got work permit. What I’m not clear about is will I be taken from the initial accommodation(section 98) and transferred to another accommodation under section 95? Do I have to apply for section 95 myself? Im still yet to get an ARC as well but it’s just being 2 days.

  11. liz lewis on

    Good afternoon
    My question relates to the Asylum Short List Occupation List. Your article “are you an asylum seeker? do you want to start work?” on the page and the link “Take A Look at the Guide” contains a further link to the gov website and the page

    This is the “Skilled Worker visa: shortage occupations” list. New to this list (at least for asylum seekers) are jobs in the building trade (carpenters, general builders, plasterers etc) and programmers (of any type – previously it was quite niche).

    Please could you confirm that this list on the website applies to asylum seekers who have been given permission to work on jobs on the shortage list.

    • right-to-remain on

      Hi Liz, thank you for your comment. Yes, confusingly, the same shortage occupation list is used for people seeking asylum as well as those on the skilled worker visa paths.

  12. Bob on

    my friend is an assulum seeker , got an ARC car with “work permitted” on it
    does it mean its unrestricted?
    otherwise it woud have “work permitted other” – for seasonal workers and only for particular company, “work permitted SOL” – only for jobs from the list, or “work permitted student” – 20 hours per week max
    am I correct?


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