The UK Border Agency is taking a much tougher line against employers who fall foul of the law on employing migrant workers.
Each week the UK Border Agency publishes reports of dawn raids and arrests of illegal workers in takeaways, restaurants, factories and care homes.
Speaking about a successful border agency raid this week, Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
‘These operations are among many being carried out across the country following the success of a major crackdown on immigration crime during the summer, which generated a large number of arrests, cash seizures and prosecutions as well as fresh intelligence.
‘Illegal immigration puts huge pressure on the public purse at a time when the country can least afford it. Together with the police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency we will continue to make life as difficult as possible for those who cheat the immigration system.’
Despite the threat of £10,000 fines and a widely publicised information campaign, many employers are slipping up because there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the whole area of employing foreign nationals and even EU workers.
For instance a common assumption is that all members of the European Union have the same rights. Wrong. Not all EU members have the right to freely work in the UK.
As members of the European Union, Bulgarians have visa-free access to the UK, however, like Romanians, they do not enjoy the same treaty rights to work as the earlier A8 Eastern European EU accession countries such as Poland and Latvia.
Employers cannot employ a Romanian or Bulgarian worker in the same way they can a Polish or other A8 accession country citizen.
Many Romanians and Bulgarians register as self employed and start businesses, which is allowed, or work and study on a Yellow Card Visa. Romanian and Bulgarian Students taking vocational or sandwich courses, such as NVQ in Health and Social Care, are allowed to work full time, as stated on their Yellow Cards.
Other issues which cause confusion are overseas workers on student visas and dependants of Tier 4 students and Tier 2 working visa holders.
The UK Border Agency recently published newly updated summary guidance to help employers understand the law on illegal working and what steps they must take to comply.
The shorter summary guidance includes a quick reference tool and lists document checks that employers should undertake. The summary version must be read in conjunction with the government’s full comprehensive guidance for employers on preventing illegal working, which was updated on 2 November.
Employers can download both updated documents from the Preventing illegal working – guidance documents for employers page on the UK Border Agency’s website.
For general enquiries regarding illegal working, employers can also contact the sponsorship and employers’ helpline.
If in doubt, pick up the phone or seek legal advice from a professional who can audit your files, as mistakes can be costly.
Employers can be fined up to £10,000 per illegal worker.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: