ESF Frequently Asked Questions

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Yes, birth/adoption certificates from EU member states prove eligibility to live and work in the UK.

If a participant has changed their surname i.e. got married, we would need further documentation as to why the surnames are different (change of name deed or marriage certificate). Participants will need documentation that matches their current name when they start employment, so it is good to sort this early.

If a participant uses a preferred name rather than their birth name, please include their birth name in brackets on the enrolment form to avoid confusion.

Birth/adoption certificates (EU member states) need to be included with either a P45, P60, national insurance card or driving licence. Copies of national insurance cards/JC+ and DWP letters with the NINO printed on them need to be included, rather than just the NINO being written on the enrolment form.

Yes, Croatian nationals must also provide a registration certificate – either blue, purple or yellow. Blue registration certificates give unrestricted right to work, purple certificates give limited right to work and yellow certificates are for the self-employed or for students.

Although Turkey is not a full member of the EU they are an associate member and the UK allows Turkish business people to have a separate certificate allowing them to work in the UK even if they do not meet the normal requirements for a residence permit.

If a participant is homeless please complete the homeless declaration with them. If no credible alternative documents are available, consider whether an exception to the evidence requirements can be justified (for audit) and is low risk. Where satisfied that, despite the absence of any correct evidence, the participant qualifies for support, document the justification within the homeless declaration.

No, if a driving license is used as proof of address, the date of issue needs to be less than 12 months old. If this is not the case, please include newer evidence i.e. utility bill, bank statement that is more recent.

However if a participant only has a proof of address that post-dates their enrolment then that, along with the driving license can be used to prove address. It proves the participant was residing at that address over a year ago is still at that address currently, therefore it must have been their address at the time of enrolment too.

Yes, Home Office guidance states that you should take copies of both the front and back of residence permits.

Yes, they should be provided with a Certificate of Application and a Positive Verification note – these demonstrate the right to work in the UK.

Yes, if available or a letter from the UK Immigration and Nationality Directorate or Home Office confirming an individual’s right to stay and work in the UK. A participant’s employment status length will be determined from the date that the residency permit has been issued. You will need to include copies of previous residency permits to confirm a participant’s employment status length.

Yes, participants need to be able to prove that they have been able to live and work in the UK for at least a 12 month period in which they have been unemployed. If a participant’s current residence permit has not been valid for 12 months please provide a copy of their previous residence permit/other evidence that they were residents in the UK. For some permanent residence permit holders they will have needed to prove they have been in the UK for 5 years in order to get their permit – they should be able to provide the program with evidence that this is the case.

Biometric residence cards were introduced on the 6th April 2015. Before that residence cards were issued as stamps within passports and were authenticated with a circular embossing stamp. If it is clear that residence was issued before 6th April 2015 and it is still in date then this is valid proof of the right to live and work in the UK. 

There may also be people with Immigration Status Documents – these were given before 6th April 2015 to people who were granted refugee status or needed humanitarian protection. These are still acceptable as long as they are valid. They appear as a separate document to the passport.

No, programs funded by ESF are not publicly funded.

An exempt vignette is given to people who are exempt from immigration control. Normally this will apply to diplomats or foreign officials and their spouses/partners and dependant family members. This will appear as a stamp or ‘vignette’ in the holder’s passport and is counted by the Home Office as giving the right to live and work in the UK for as long as the vignette is valid (this will be for up to 5 years).

The non-EU passport isn’t necessary evidence, as the residence permit proves that they can live and work in the UK. The permit needs to show that it has been issued by the Home Office, is current, in the workers name and shows that the worker has one of the following:

  • Indefinite leave to enter to remain
  • No time limit to their stay in the UK
  • A certificate of entitlement to the Right of Abode
  • Is except for immigration control.

Please use service to find out which type of document gives someone the right to work in the UK:

Yes, it is good practice to submit the spouses’ passport with the residence permit.


Yes, there is no time frame on how many hours a participant can be on an ESOL course per week, but they must be actively available to seek and look for work. Please specify what type of course they are on, as if it is an evening class that they are attending, we are not that worried.

Yes if a participant is in receipt of ESA they are EI.

  • If they have been put in the support group, it means the DWP has decided that they cannot work and that it does not expect them to do anything to improve their chances of finding work.
  • If they have been put into the work-related activity group it means the DWP has decided that their disability or health condition does limit their ability to work right now, but that there are things they can do to improve this. They’re not expected to look for work, but they can be asked to go to a work-focused interview and then do work-related activities.

Yes, a JCP verification form is sufficient on its own.

As the participant is on JSA, they will be unemployed not economically inactive, regardless of them being on PIP.

Yes, you would need to provide another proof of benefits letter that covers the period from the date of the first proof of benefits letter up to the date of enrolment. This letter can post-date enrolment. Please provide both proof of benefits letters in the file so that the entire period of unemployment is covered.

No, a participant could be on no benefits and still be either long-term unemployed or economically inactive. They could also have been on benefits for some of that time but not all. However, they must provide evidence that covers the whole period of their unemployment such as a Third Party Verification. If they had only been on JSA for some of that time information about their benefits e.g. a proof of benefits letter would not be adequate evidence. For example if the participant was over 25 and had been on JSA for only 8 months they would have to provide evidence to show they had been unemployed for 12 months or more.

No, the participant would not be eligible. You cannot combine the two different statuses of economically inactive (there is no requirement to be available and actively seeking work) and unemployed (there is a requirement to be available and actively seeking work when in receipt of JSA). In this case, the participant would be considered short term unemployed as they have not been continuously unemployed for 12 months. Participant would be eligible when they have been unemployed for 12 months.

Yes, as the benefits someone is claiming does not dictate their employment status. You will need to evidence that a participant has been unemployed (ILO definition: out of work, want a job, have actively sought work in the previous four weeks and are available to start work within the next fortnight).

This also works if the participant was previously on JSA but is not at the point of enrolment and is still unemployed.

EI is not the same as long term unemployed; you do not need to show the length a person has been claiming ESA. A recent letter evidencing that the participant is claiming ESA would be sufficient, they do not need to be EI for a certain length of time. It is good practice for the letter to be dated in the previous 2 weeks prior to enrolment.

Yes. Please make sure that date of signature and the signature are in wet ink.

Yes, if the evidence submitted by participant changes, please amend on enrolment form so that it matches.

Please include as much detail about the participant and what was discussed in the session, discussing the participants’ barriers to employment, if any, and why their employment status is listed as it is.

No, it is mandatory for the INA/IAP to be completed before sessions. This is to establish what activity will be best suited to the participant. Any hours completed before the INA/IAP is completed will not be counted.

Yes, please set targets including the dates you set them and the date you hope the target will be achieved and the date at which it has been achieved.

Yes, participants can provide their signed contracts or payslips as alternative evidence for entering employment. Employers can also send email confirmation as long as it is sent from a professional email address with an email signature.

If an employer or provider does not have a company stamp they should provide header paper or a business card. If headed paper is attached separately to the form then the employer or provider would have to sign and date the attachment. Employers or providers could also attach an email confirmation, with email signature from their professional email address (which should match the email address given on the form).

Yes, it is good practice for all documentation to be stamped and signed as a true copy of the original.

It is good practice for payslips to be dated either the month the participant started employment or the month afterwards. 

No, only the employer signature and date of signature need to be in wet ink.

No, leaver forms do not need to be signed by participants. Some providers complete them with the participant on the phone or by email. They do however need to have a leaver date (preferably the day before they start EET). Please refer to new leaver form.

Yes, ideally leaver forms are signed the day before a participant starts employment or training course, but understandably circumstances can affect this, so they can be signed after the start date.

No the leaver form is not mandatory and a project can still claim payment for a result without a leavers form. However projects will have to submit leaver forms for 65% of their results and these will contribute to their EPR.