What is the Permission to Work Policy?

Written by Calvin
Last updated July 12, 2021

The permission to work policy is a policy that allows some asylum seekers to apply for permission to work or volunteer in the UK. This allows those who are awaiting a decision on their asylum status to work and earn money. In January 2021, the government announced that the permission to work policy is under review, which means there could be changes to it at any time. Keep an eye on the government website to stay up to date. 

What is an Asylum Seeker?  

An asylum seeker is a person who has left their country due to a threat of violence, severe harm and human rights violations and is seeking protection and safety in another country. An asylum seeker is awaiting a decision on their legal status as a refugee, which means they do not yet have the rights of a citizen, such as to work. Seeking asylum is a human right. Every person should be allowed the opportunity to seek asylum; the decision on whether they are granted asylum is up to each country.

A refugee is internationally recognised as needing safety and protection from persecution and has no choice but to leave their home country. 

What is the Current Permission to Work Policy?  

Currently, asylum seekers are not generally allowed to work while they await a decision on their legal status. However, there are a few conditions to which an asylum seeker can apply for permission to work, these are: 

– If you have been awaiting an initial decision on your asylum status for over 12 months. 

– And you are not considered responsible for the delay in that decision. 

The other condition which asylum seeker must be aware of is that if they are granted permission to work, they must take on a job from the UK’s shortage occupation list, which are jobs at ‘graduate level’ or above. 

A person’s permission to work expires when a final decision has been made on their asylum status. 

Why Might an Asylum Seeker Want to Work?  

– While the Home Office tries to limit the wait time for a decision on somebody asylum, it can sometimes be an extended period, especially if there are multiple appeals. Because of this, many asylum seekers need to work to earn money. 

– Utilise their skills and contribute to the country they are seeking asylum in. 

– Some asylum seekers are also granted approval for volunteering which can help people integrate into their community, meet others and have structure to their day. 

If you are a migrant, refugee or asylum seeker searching for work in the UK, have a read of our guide to help understand some of the common challenges and how to overcome them. 

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Last Updated: Thursday October 5 2023
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