Illegal working is a criminal offence. The offence was introduced by the Immigration Act 2016. It is aimed at individuals who do not have the right to work because of their immigration status. This offence can have significant penalties for both the individual and their employer, if there is knowledge of their illegal status whilst they are working.
The Immigration Act 2016 (IA 2016) makes illegal working a criminal offence. A person commits the offence when:
- they continue to work in the UK even though they are disqualified from working because of their immigration status and;
- at that time they knew or had a reason to believe that they are disqualified because of their immigration status.
Immigration Status and Disqualification from Working
Since the IA 2016 a person can be disqualified from working if:
- they have not been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK;
- their leave to enter or remain is invalid or has ceased to have effect; or
- they are subject to a condition preventing them from accepting employment.
The Penalties Inflicted
A person who is guilty of illegal working can be convicted. In England and Wales you can be subject to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks or issued a fine or both can be imposed. In Scotland and Northern Ireland you can be subject to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or issued a fine or both can be imposed.
In order to work in the UK and avoid the above penalties, you can apply for a Tier 2 work visa.
The Employer’s Criminal Offence
An employer will commit an offence if he employs a person and has knowledge that the employee is disqualified from working, based on their immigration status. There can be significant consequences for employers who have hired illegal workers. Two recent examples in the news involve restaurateurs, who are facing potential financial penalties after illegal workers were discovered working in their restaurants. Both restauranteurs were noticed with a penalty up to £20,000 per worker. Stephen Sparrow, the Essex Police‘s County Licensing Officer has delivered a clear message on how the police deal with illegal working, where he stated “We take these types of cases very seriously. The message is clear if licensees are caught employing persons who have no right to work they must face the consequences.”
The Consequences for Employers
The IA 2016 provides even more powers on enforcement authorities and immigration officers. Immigration officers have now the power to use force, search people and their work premises. Furthermore, they have the power to impose an illegal working closure or an illegal working compliance order. An illegal working closure means they can close the premises for up to a maximum of 48 hours. An illegal working compliance order on the other hand can prevent the employer from employing illegal workers and be placed under special conditions. According to the Home Office, special conditions can include, prohibiting access to the premises, require the person to carry out work checks, to provide the immigration officer with work documents, arrange times where an immigration officer can enter the premises and carry out investigations and the courts can make any other provision it deems necessary.
In order to employ overseas workers and avoid the above consequences, you can apply for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence.
Using Legal Representation to Make Sure You are Not an Illegal Employee or Employing an Illegal Worker
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. You can instruct one of our immigration and visa legal representatives to successfully ascertain your immigration status and make sure you comply with the Home Office’s requirements, whether you are an employee or an employer.
Businesses who do not acknowledge the seriousness of employing illegal workers are at high risks for fines and imprisonment. Our Solicitors and Barristers can assist you if you are an employer, with applying for a Tier 2 sponsor licence and with checking whether your employees have the correct and essential documentary evidence for their right to work in the UK. Employees who have an illegal immigration status will similarly face the possibility of a fine or an imprisonment. Our Solicitors and Barristers can also assist you if you are an employee, to apply for a Tier 2 work visa, which will grant you the right to work in the UK.
Successfully Confirm Your Employees’ Legal Working Status
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you on the proper collection of your required work documents and help you establish your right to work in the UK.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.