The UK Immigration Minister Damian Green announced it will soon be much easier for employers to carry out checks to let them know whether foreign nationals have the right to work in the UK.
From spring 2012, firms will be able to go online to validate that the details contained on a foreign employee's biometric residence permit (BRP) are correct.
BRPs, which hold a person's fingerprints and photograph on a secure chip, are issued to non-EEA nationals with permission to remain in the UK for more than 6 months.
BRPs are simplifying the process of checking an individual's right to work by replacing the wide range of documents currently in use. The new online checking service for employers will enable quick and easy real-time checks on permits and their holder's identity and right to work in the UK.
Damian Green said: 'It is vital that we work with employers to give them the tools they need to meet their obligations.’
He added: 'Our new online checking service will also turn up the pressure on those who wish to live and work here illegally.'
It was also announced that from 29 February 2012 BRPs will be issued to more categories of foreign nationals, including refugees and those granted permission to settle in the UK.
Around 600,000 BRPs have been issued since November 2008. From next year they will cover all those applying from inside the UK to remain here for more than 6 months.
To meet increased demand and provide foreign nationals with more locations around the UK where fingerprints and photographs can be taken, the immigration minister announced that a contract for the collection of this information has been awarded to the Post Office Ltd.
The contract will run for four years and Post Office Ltd will offer a network of around 100 locations from spring 2012.