UKVI Raids Business for Employing 35 Illegal Workers

Earlier this month, UK business and burger chain Byron’s was the latest business to receive a visit from UKVI enforcement officials, the raids resulted in the arrest of 35 people on suspicion of breaches of immigration laws.  Immigration raids by the Home Office have become more common in recent news as reports reveal that the Home Office have taken a harsh stance towards those suspected of living and working illegally. UK businesses and employers face sanctions including civil penalties of up to £20,000 per migrant worker found to be without the right to work in the UK. 

UK Businesses Face Tougher Sanctions for Employing Illegal Workers

If you are an employer in the UK, you must carry out document checks on people before employing them to make sure they are allowed to work. It is the duty of businesses and employers to prevent illegal working in the UK. Under current UK Immigration Rules, an employer may be liable for a civil penalty of £20,000, if they employ someone who does not have the right to undertake the work.

UKVI enforcement teams have increased the number of visits to business premises in recent years in an effort to toughen up on UK business owners employing non EEA workers without the right to work in the UK.  A recent report published by the Home Office revealed that between 1 July 2015 and 31 December 2015, 1,820 workers were found to be working illegally and as a result issued a total of 1,271 civil penalty fines to employers, totalling fines of £21.5 million.

Recent news further suggest the Home Office is now refining its focus and targeting large, corporate organisations for breaches of their immigration responsibilities and serves as a note of caution to employers that if caught out, they face fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and two to five years in prison.

Burger chain Byron’s is the latest business to come under the radar of the UKVI as it raided several of its business premises in London.

A spokesperson  for the Home Office stated:

Immigration enforcement officers carried out intelligence-led visits to a number of Byron restaurants across London on 4 July, arresting 35 people for immigration offences. The operation was carried out with the full co-operation of the business.

The good news for Byron’s is that the Home Office accepted that it had carried out the proper right-to-work checks, but workers had presented forged or otherwise false documents. Consequently Byron will face no legal action as a result of employing them. If the Home Office hadn’t found in Byron’s favour then the business could have fines of up to £700,000 and its bosses could have face criminal sanctions of up to five years in prison.

Are You a UK Business Served with a Penalty Notice from the Home Office

If you are a UK employer that is found employing an illegal migrant, you would get a ‘referral notice’  from the Home Office to let you know that your case is being considered. The Home Office may also fine you  (i.e. a civil penalty) of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker.

The ‘civil penalty notice’ will give the employer payment options and tell you what do next. It will also tell you how to object to the civil penalty and how to appeal. The Home Office may also publish the employer’s details as a warning to other businesses not to employ illegal workers.

Those who are found to have ‘knowingly employed’ an illegal worker, could be sent to jail for up to 2 years and receive an unlimited fine. It is therefore, imperative that employers are aware of the current immigration rules and their duties.

Immigration Legal Advice for UK Employers & Illegal Workers

If you are a UK business and have been affected by the Home Office’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.

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 and provide you with options of regularising your stay.

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