UK Immigration Raids: Home Office Toughens Up on UK Businesses

In news reports yesterday, Sukar Ali, the owner of the award winning Viceroy restaurant in Shaddongate, Carlisle hit out against the Home Office’s immigration officers raid of his business premises. After the immigration officers carried out checks on the immigration status of the staff members, they concluded that all staff working at the restaurant were in fact working there legally. Speaking in a media interview, Mr Ali revealed that his restaurant had been raided multiple times and that although he accepted the Home Office had a duty to check the credentials of foreign workers, he was “disgusted” by the manner in which the raid was carried out.

The Home Office’s immigration raids are beginning to become more common in recent news, with the Home Office toughening up on UK business owners who are employing migrants from outside the EEA. Here, we will consider what the Home Office expects from Tier 2 Sponsors and explore the penalties for not complying with their sponsorship duties.

Immigration Officers Conduct Raids in Restaurants in Westfield

The Viceroy was not the only restaurant raided by immigration officers. On Monday, immigration officers from the Home Office conducted raids at nine restaurants in Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush. They arrested a total of 21 immigrants allegedly working illegally in the UK from eateries including Yo Me Sushi, Nandos and Bamboo Basket. It seems that those arrested ranged in age from 21 to 44 years old and were nationals from countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Nigeria.

Speaking on the raids, a Home Office spokeswoman stated that immigration officers were carrying out “hundreds of operations” similar to this every year around London and fining employers who had hired illegal migrants, thereby highlighting the need for employers to ensure that their employees have the legal right to work in the UK either by virtue of their visa or by their Tier 2 work permits.

Tier 2 UK Sponsor’s Duties & Objectives

The main duties for a UK Tier 2 Sponsor include at least the following:

  • Keeping a record of all documents in relation to a migrant employee and making it available for Home Office officials;
  • Reporting certain information to Home Office officials (i.e whether a migrant’s contract of employment has ended earlier than it’s indicated on the certificate of sponsorship);
  • Maintaining migrant’s contact details including a history of details not just a current address; and
  • Ensuring that the employer is compliant with the Home Office’s compliance and audit procedures.

Home Office’s Penalties for Employers who Employ Illegals

Currently, an employer could be fined up to £10,000 for each illegal worker and/or face criminal prosecution if it fails to carry out the appropriate checks on their employees. The government intends to toughen civil penalties for businesses employing illegal migrants once the Immigration Bill becomes law. The following is a summary of these proposals:

  • The maximum penalty for employing illegal workers will increase to £20,000;
  • The way civil penalties are calculated will be simplified;
  • The way unpaid penalties can be enforced in the civil courts will be simplified; and
  • There will be measures to allow recovery of a civil penalty from directors and partners of limited liability businesses following failure to pay by the businesses.

Immigration Legal Advice Tier 2 Sponsors (Business Owners) in the UK

If you are a UK business and have been affected by the UKBA’s raids, contact us to discuss this further.

Business owners sponsoring migrants from outside the EEA must ensure that they are legally registered to sponsor these migrants and must have a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. If the Home Office has contacted you in relation to carrying out a compliance visit at your business premises, contact us for legal advice.

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