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Employing illegal migrants could cost you £10,000 per worker | Immigration Matters

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The UK Border Agency (UKBA) are currently dishing out £10,000 fines for employing illegal migrant workers like confetti, as viewers of Sky TV’s ‘UK Border Force’ will be aware. 

The show, screened on Sky 1, follows UKBA immigration officers as they carry out raids on employers, usually in the catering and hospitality sectors. 

Officers normally plan their raids based on a tip off that a company is employing illegal workers, so any employer could be targeted. 

Some of the employers featured on the programme are clearly aware that they are breaking the law, but others are merely ignorant of the law or just plain sloppy. 

Illegal workers include Eastern Europeans from Romania and Bulgaria, who need permission to work, students with expired visas and people of visitors visas “helping out” whilst they are on holiday. 

The UKBA introduced a civil penalty system for employers on 29 February 2008 as part of the Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. 

Under section 15 of the Act, Employers found to be using illegal migrant workers will be served with a notification of potential liability (NOPL) by immigration staff carrying out enforcement and compliance visits. 

The Illegal Working Civil Penalty Unit will then consider evidence provided by the visiting officer and decide whether to issue a notification of liability (NOL) and a civil penalty of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker. 

If you are issued with a notice of liability and hit with a civil penalty having been found ‘guilty’ of using illegal migrant workers you have 28 days to: 

  • pay the civil penalty or fine in full 
  • submit a request to the ‘Illegal Working Appeals and Finance Section’ to pay by monthly instalments  
  • submit an objection against the service of the civil penalty to the UK Border Agency
  • lodge an appeal against the service of the civil penalty to the County Court (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or the Sheriff’s Court (Scotland)  

If all that is not enough the UKBA publish details of employers “found liable to pay a civil penalty for employing illegal migrant workers” see Lists of civil penalties issued to employers.  

A civil penalty requires a lower burden of proof – ‘on the balance of probabilities’ rather than ‘beyond reasonable doubt – than the former criminal offence, which was rarely imposed on employers. 

This means that penalties can be dished out like parking fines, leaving you with the burden of proving your innocence should you wish to oppose the decision.

Help is available

The UK Border Agency’s website contains useful information on Sponsoring workers under the points-based system, which includes a section on HR systems and compliance and Preventing Illegal Working

If you are still unsure of the steps you need to take to avoid employing illegal workers, visit or call the UKBA employers’ helpline on 0845 010 6677.

Employers wishing to recruit overseas workers legally should register as sponsors under Tier 2 of the Points Based System, which replaced the Work Permit regime last November.

Immigration advisers like Bison UK provides a file audit or vetting service for employers unsure about whether or not their staff are legally employed. 

Symposium Events are running a conference vetting both EU and non-EU nationals at £100 per ticket. Register online or call us +44 (0) 20 7231 5100.

If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

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15 Responses to “Employing illegal migrants could cost you £10,000 per worker”
Read them below or add one

  1. UK Border Agency –

    But don’t expect a raid the next day! They receive thousands of reports.

  2. i know someone how is working illegally in london where should i compliant

  3. djamel says :

    hey there im illegal algerian live here for up2 4 years and live wiv my partner for 2 years i do like to know if can i apply for visa from here without go back to my home country plz. hope i hear from u soon.cheers

  4. susan corbett says :

    I note that only 6 employers recieved civil penalties in Portsmouth in the last published quarter, and non of these were fined more than £5ooo/illegal employee even though the max is £10k. Is this government policy, how many maximum fines were issued in Portsmouth last year, how many countrywide, and how many prosecutions were there last year in the UK and what was the maximum sentence?

  5. […] verify the status of their employees. The UK Border Agency regularly imposes civil fines of up to £10,000 to firms employing illegal immigrants. Knowingly taking on an illegal worker is a criminal offence […]

  6. […] Employing illegal migrants could cost you £10,000 per worker […]

  7. […] while hiding from authorities. UK government has recently imposed tough new civil penalties on £10,000 on employers for each illegal worker […]

  8. […] employees and the UK Border Agency regularly dish out on-the-spot penalties and fine of up to civil £10,000 to firms employing illegal immigrants naming and shaming them on their […]

  9. […] the Sky TV show UK Border Force illustrates, many of the illegal workers arrested are later released because they have no passport. […]

  10. The British Embassy in Manila are taking 3 to 4 months to issue visas. You can follow up visa VFS or with your adviser. See also:

    See also: NVQ Student Arrives in UK after 5 month visa wait –

  11. hello to all,
    I just want know what happened to my student visa application in manila last jan.29th,2009…it’s been 5mos now, Until this day, still no results or advise… I hope that my application will push through i am patiently waiting, thank you very much.. More power and Godbless you all

  12. […] migrant workers illegally could cost you a £10,000 civil penalty as well as leading to the removal of the worker from the […]

  13. […] can be fined up to £10,000 per illegal worker under the new ‘Civil Penalty’ […]

  14. […] regular raids on employers who are thought to be using illegal immigrants imposing fines of up to £10,000 per illegal worker. However, due to restrictions and limited resources many of the people caught working are released […]

  15. […] says that it is legally obliged to ensure that staff are entitled to work in the UK. Employers face large fines if they are found to be employing illegal workers, he […]

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