Employing asylum seekers and refugees

An asylum seeker is a person who has made an application for asylum in the UK but whose application has yet to be decided by the Home Office.


Most asylum seekers do not have the right to work in the UK. Only a very small number of asylum seekers will be permitted to work - in such cases it will state ‘employment permitted’ or ‘allowed to work’ on their Application Registration Card (ARC).

Asylum seekers can apply for permission to work after their asylum claim has been outstanding for over 12 months, through no fault of their own. If they are granted permission to work, this will be limited to occupations on the shortage occupation list.

Refugee status, Humanitarian Protection, Discretionary Leave

Asylum seekers whose application for asylum (claim) is approved will be awarded Refugee status. As an employer in Scotland you can hire a person with refugee status because they have the legal right to live and work here and the rest of the UK freely.

Refugees who have been granted indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK should be able to produce evidence of their right to work in accordance with the Home Office guidance.

Those with Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave to Remain are also entitled to work in the UK without restriction.

As an employer in Scotland you will need to obtain documentation to verify that the person has the right to work in Scotland and the rest of the UK.