When you are nearing the expiry date of your visa, your employer may request for proof that you can continue working lawfully. Many clients, after submitting and waiting for a visa application or extension, have explained the fear of losing their jobs if they are unable to produce a new visa or Home Office letter proving permission to work immediately. The increased Home Office civil and criminal penalties for employers and employees who are caught to be involved with Illegal Working has inevitably caused most companies to be very cautious when hiring or retaining migrant workers.

Do you need assistance with a specific immigration query?

Right to Work while waiting for a visa application

Can I Work While Waiting For A Visa Application?

In layman’s terms, the immigration rules simply state that as long as the switching or extension visa application is made before the current visa expires, the Applicant’s current leave is extended until a decision is made.

The relevant rules come under 3C of the Immigration Act 1971. This article seeks to highlight the rights to work and reside in the UK acquired under 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (as amended Immigration Act 2014).

The Immigration Law

Section 3C, what does it mean?

Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 states: Continuation of leave pending variation decision

  1. This section applies if—

(a) a person who has limited leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom applies to the Secretary of State for variation of the leave,

(b) the application for variation is made before the leave expires, and

(c) the leave expires without the application for variation having been decided.

2. The leave is extended by virtue of this section during any period when—

(a) the application for variation is neither decided nor withdrawn,

(b) an appeal under section 82(1) of the Nationality, Asylum and Immigration Act 2002 could be brought [F2, while the appellant is in the United Kingdom] against the decision on the application for variation (ignoring any possibility of an appeal out of time with permission)

There are some exceptions to 3C, namely those who have acted in breach of immigration Rules or they may have submitted their renewal after the expiry of the current visa.

Who does this applies to?

Note that section 3c rights apply only to UK visa applications under the Immigration Rules. This does not apply for EEA Residence Card or Permanent Residence applications under the EEA Regulations.

How can an employer check my right to work while waiting for a Visa Application?

Normally, our clients’ employers are satisfied with their checks once we produce the Home Office receipt, acknowledgement letter or Certificate of Application.

With the Home Office reference number, employers can also check the migrant worker’s status through the Employer Checking Service


We can help!

QC Immigration can represent you in dealing with your employer’s checks. We can advise to ensure your pending visa application does not hinder your ongoing employment or accepting of a new job offer. We also assist employers in ensuring their recruitment and retention policies are compliant with immigration laws.

Need more information?

Learn more about how we work and support you through the UK Immigration Application Process.

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What do our users say

Thank you very much for your contribution and good job you have done for me and my family. Today, I feel that thanking you is not enough. You will remain in our hearts and we will always have this deepest and sincere regard for you, as you have always shown your kindness and your work have been appreciated by the whole family.

Long Residence Settlement (10 years) client – Mauritian

Qiyin is an extremely diligent and thorough immigration lawyer. She took the time to fully understand my case and application for the highly skilled migrant program. She was very careful to consider both the short and longer term issues related to my application and provided very balanced and frank advice. My highly skilled migrant visa was successfully renewed thanks to her advice and help. I highly recommend her.

Tier 1 (General) visa client – Singaporean

I would like to thank you for all the hard work you’ve done for us in the past few years! I am now finished with the whole process and had my UK Citizenship ceremony. We couldn’t have gotten this far without you!

Entry Clearance Settlement (Spouse) visa client – Canadian

Thank you for all your help. I got the visa this morning and look forward to going on holiday. See you again in 30 months for the next visa.

PEO same-day service (Spouse leave to remain) client – Thai

We are so glad that our friend recommended you to help with our ILR application and we have no doubt it may have been a different story if we were applying without your support! We appreciate your professional approach and knowledge on immigration matters and wish your business well in the future (we are sure you will be very successful). Have no doubt we will be using your services for our application for Citizenship.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (Spouse) client – Russian

The QC Immigration team has proved an absolute star on the immigration front and my son’s fiancée is now happily settled, thank you again.

Partner (Fiancée) Settlement Visa – Brazilian

Many thanks for all your work on our application, especially since I contacted you on short notice! I contacted you on Sept 22nd and we signed up with you on/around Sept 27th! So we pulled this all together a little over 3 weeks.

Premium Service (Fiancée) Partner visa client – American

You have exceeded our expectations by saving us so much time and money when organising this! Thank you for also co-operating with our investment manager and accountant to ensure everything ran smoothly.

Tier 1 Investor (Super Premium Service) client – Chinese

Naturalisation (British Citizenship) client - Dutch

EEA Permanent Residence client – Belgian

My family and I were very emotional receiving the good news today. Thank you for all your help and we will definitely recommend you to our European friends who are planning ahead after Brexit!

Naturalisation (British Citizenship) client – Dutch

My family and I were very emotional receiving the good news today. Thank you for all your help and we will definitely recommend you to our European friends who are planning ahead after Brexit!

Naturalisation (British Citizenship) client – Dutch