Yesterday the UK immigration rules which introduces changes and further sanctions on employers for employing workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), who do not have the right to work in the UK came into force. We previously reported here on the tougher sanctions faced by employers and businesses for employing illegal workers which were introduced by the Immigration Act 2016. The Immigration Act includes a range of measures and sanctions on employers and UK businesses. We have outlined some of the changes below.
Immigration Act 2016
The changes to the Immigration Act 2016, which came into force yesterday introduces tougher measures as part of the UK Government’s ongoing plan to crack down on illegal working. The purpose of the changes are to make it harder for people to live and work illegally in the UK and the way the government aims to tackle this, is to impose tougher penalties and sanctions on rogue employers who are caught employing non EEA nationals who do not have the right to work in the UK.
Tougher Sanctions for Businesses and Employers
The measures introduced in the immigration Act 2016 and taking effect from 12 July include the following;
- Employers will be guilty of an offence if they employ a non EEA national who does not have right to work in the UK, if they have “reasonable cause to believe that the employee is disqualified from employment” because of their immigration status.
- Employers convicted under this offence may face a large financial penalty, and/or a maximum prison sentence of five years (an increase from the previous maximum of two years).
- It is now a criminal offence to work illegally and immigration officials have powers to seize wages from illegal working as the proceeds of crime.
- The new offence of illegal working carries a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment. Individuals may also be subject to a fine.
- Other changes taking effect on 12 July include additional powers of immigration officers to search premises, including workplaces, and to confiscate evidence of immigration and employing illegal worker offences.
The UK’s vote to Leave the EU on 23 June does not impact on the changes under the Immigration Act 2016 and there are further sections in the act relevant to employers that do not yet have implementation dates. It remains to be seen whether these may require additional regulations before they come into force.
UK Immigration Legal Advice for Employers & Migrants
Business owners sponsoring migrants from outside the EEA must ensure that they are legally registered to sponsor 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. You can also contact us if you have been issued with a Civil Penalty Notice and feel you have grounds to appeal against it.
Illegal migrants with strong Human Rights arguments ought to take legal advice and regularise their stay in the UK as soon as possible and before it is too late. Contact us to discuss your immigration situation and we will assess your case.