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Illegal Working and Domestic Worker Rules | Immigration Matters

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Under new rules recently announced by the Home Office employers could face fines of up £2000 per illegal employee and a possible 2 year prison sentence if found to be knowingly using or exploiting illegal workers. Employees face the prospect of being sent home.

Whilst the vast majority of employers and employees in this country are honest law abiding, many employers are unwittingly employing overseas staff illegally. In my experience as an immigration and recruitment adviser to the healthcare industry I have found that nurses and carers often have one or more of the following:

  • Invalid or expired Work Permits
  • Work Permit issued for another employer
  • A Work Permit without Further Leave to Remain (FLR)

Other common problems occur when a care worker or nurse on a work permit leaves one employer to join another. In many cases the employer accepts the passport stamp, indicating and apparently valid visa, together with a National Insurance card as proof of entitlement to work.

Both employee and employer are often unaware that the visa or Leave to Remain is connected to the previous work permit, which has been issued to the former employer and is therefore invalid. Furthermore, the previous employer has a duty to inform the Home Office to cancel the Work Permit.

Another common problem for Senior Carers who transfer from one job to another is that the new employer is often inexperienced and ill-equipped in dealing with work permit applications and subsequently fails to obtain the permit. Your work permit is not transferable and is only applicable to the company to which it has been issued. This situation can be disastrous for the worker who has placed their faith in the new employer. Many find themselves stranded in “limbo” with no work permit or leave to remain and have to return home to apply for entry clearance all over again.

These problems often only come to light when the CSCI checks the employee files for valid work permits and visas or when workers try to renew their visas and work permits. Employers should note that a permanent National Insurance number, P45 or P60 no longer provides them with statutory defence if presented on its own.

What should you do to ensure you are working legally?

Firstly, read your work permit and visa stamp to ensure that they are valid and have they been issued correctly. Secondly, if you are planning to transfer to another employer make sure you can obtain a replacement work permit with the new employer. We deal with transfers all the time and in some cases an employer may not even be eligible to take on a Nurse or Senior Carer. Lastly never allow your work permit and visa to expire. You should apply for a work permit extension at least three months before expiration and the “Further Leave to Remain” (FLR) forms must be submitted before your current visa expires.


In a recent case in Scotland (reported in the Evening News 30th August) a Filipina Nurse, Mary Beldia is facing deportation after missing the deadline to renew her visa to work by just 24 hours.

Miss Beldia, who lives in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, was stunned when she was told of the decision. She is now trying to fight the move, with the support of her employers, Lasswade’s Drummond Grange Nursing Home. But the Home Office has told her there is no right to appeal.

The 28-year-old works with disabled youngsters on life support ventilation at the Lasswade home.

She said: “I just don’t want to go home. The main reason I am here is to work. I am the breadwinner for my family.

“I am building a house for my parents. They are in temporary accommodation at the moment and if I stop working here, the house will never be finished. It will be a disaster if I have to leave Scotland. I don’t know what to do now. I can only hope they will let me stay, but I feel so helpless.”

Miss Beldia, who sends money home every month to her family in Davao City, was supposed to lodge her application for leave to remain by Friday, July 29, but the application arrived at the Home Office the next working day, which meant her passport had not been renewed in time.

Barchester Healthcare, which owns the the nursing home, has written to the Home Office to ask officials to reconsider, saying the nurse would be “sorely missed”.

However, the Home Office’s reply read: “As the further leave to remain application was submitted by yourselves on Ms Beldia’s behalf on August 1, 2005, which was not within the six-month validity of the work permit application, the leave to remain team was unable to grant any period of further leave to remain and therefore the application was refused correctly. Ms Beldia’s further leave to remain in the UK expired on July 29, 2005 and she should now make arrangements to leave the UK.”

She has taken legal advice and will fight the decision.


The chapter on Domestic Workers proved popular in our recently published book: “How2 Come to the UK to Live Work Study or Visit”. Immigration Matters readers can now access exclusive extracts from the book which everybody is talking about.


· You can come to the UK to work with your employer who is a visitor

· You can come to the UK to work for families of diplomats

· You can come to work for families you worked for overseas

· You can come for up to 6 months or sometimes up to 12 months

· You can apply to stay longer and, after 4 years, apply to stay indefinitely

· You may change employers within the same category


Domestic workers provide personal services e.g. chauffeurs, gardeners, cooks and nannies linked to the running the employer’s household.

You should be aged between 18 and 65. You will need to prove that you have worked as a domestic worker in the same household as your employer for one year prior to your application, or that you have been working in a household that your employer uses regularly for at least one year prior to your application. You will need to show a connection between you and your employer, your employer’s husband or wife or your employer’s child (under 18). The position should be a full-time domestic worker in the same house as your employer.

Private servants of diplomats must be at least 18 years old and must be employed full-time.

Plan of action

You do not need to get a work permit but you must apply for entry clearance as a domestic worker before you travel to the UK. You employer must provide an undertaking to provide adequate maintenance and accommodation and terms of employment in writing. You must only work as a domestic worker and must support yourself and live without help from public funds.

Your length of stay will depend on your employer’s status and intended length of stay. Check the entry clearance sticker or stamp in your passport, which gives you the date your permission to stay ends. See Chapter 7 of “How 2 Come to the UK to Live Work Study or Visit” for further information on visas and entry clearance.

You may change to another job as a domestic worker in a private household and can extend your stay for periods of 12 months but must notify the Home Office in writing outlining the reasons for the change. After four years’ continuous employment as a domestic worker, you can apply for settlement in the UK indefinitely. You may bring your dependants (see Chapter 4 of How 2 Come to the UK). If your employer leaves the UK and you wish to stay you should seek legal advice or contact Overseas Consultancy Services.

If you should have any questions concerning the above please send an email to, visit or call 0870 041 4658.

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