If you are concerned that you are either working illegally or employing illegal workers in the UK it is highly important that you change your circumstances as soon as possible. This will help you avoid incurring severe penalties from the Home Office. Our immigration lawyers can offer advice on a variety of issues with relation to Illegal Working and Civil Penalties.

You can be classed as an illegal worker if you do not have leave to remain in the UK; or if the leave you have is invalid or has ceased to have an effect. You will also be classed as an illegal worker if your leave to remain does not allow the kind of work you are involved in.

What is an illegal worker?

As of July 2016, under section 24B of the 1971 Act, an individual pledges the offence of illegal working if he or she is:

  • subject to immigration control;
  • employed in the UK;
  • disqualified from working in the UK due to his or her immigration status; and
  • at the time, has knowledge or reason to believe that they should not be working in the UK based on his or her immigration status.

What are the penalties for individuals who illegally work in the UK?

It is highly important that, as an individual migrant worker, you understand the penalties you could face should you be found to have ignored the law.

You could face a six-month prison sentence with an unlimited fine if you are found working without the rightful paperwork. In addition, any income you earn as a result of working illegally may be seized by the Home Office

What is a Civil Penalty under the Immigration Act?

All UK employers must by law – under Section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 – ensure all employees have relevant permissions to work lawfully in the UK by conducting effective Right to Work checks. Through the civil penalty regime, UKVI ensure employers are compliant with the immigration rules.

Where businesses are found to be in breach of their immigration duties, a civil penalty for illegal employment may be served – up to £20,000 per breach.

What are the penalties for employers who employ illegal workers in the UK?

For employers, it is important to be aware of the penalties that you could be subject to should you be found to have ignored the law. As an employer, you must ensure that your employees have the right to work in the UK, and you must also ensure that your employees’ documents are valid.

Employers are liable for their employees and could be subject to penalties if they;

  • hire workers who do not have the correct eligibility to work in the UK; or
  • have not carried out extensive employment checks prior to hiring.

In the event that the above actions have not been carried out, the employer may receive a referral notice from the Home Office. This referral notice will notify the employer that their case is being considered and that the investigation could result in the employer having to pay a fine of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

The employer may subsequently receive a Civil Penalty notice and have up to 28 days to respond to this notice. The notice will detail how to pay the fines, what the next steps are, and also how to appeal the decision (see next FAQ). Your business’s details could also be published by Immigration Enforcement as a warning to other businesses not to employ illegal workers.

The Impact of a Civil Penalty Notice can be far-reaching 

As well as the obligation to pay a hefty fine, a civil penalty for illegal employment may result in:

  • Criminal prosecution
  • Enforced debt action
  • County Court judgment
  • Tier 2 Sponsor Licence revocation
  • Adverse impact on the ability to obtain future credit
  • Disqualification of company directors
  • Inclusion on the Home Office’s civil penalty offender list
  • Bad press, reputational harm and a resulting hit on profits
  • Business forced to cease trading

What are my options if I have received a fine for employing illegal workers?

If you are employing migrant workers illegally in the UK, you may receive a fine and a warning from the Home Office called a Civil Penalty.

Receiving a Civil Penalty can be detrimental to employers, as it may result in high costs, can negatively affect a company’s reputation and even cause a company or business to be closed down.

If your business has been served a civil penalty under the Immigration Act, you may wish to consider your options to challenge the fine, to limit the financial, operational and reputational impact.

If you have received a fine for employing workers illegally you will be given 28 days in which to proceed with one the three of the following options:

  • You can choose to object to the penalty;
  • You can directly request that a payment instalment plan is set up by the Home Office; or
  • You can pay the penalty in full.

The Home Office’s 28-day deadline is very strict and they offer no option for an extension of this period.

The appeals process is, however complex, and you have very limited amount of time to weigh up the pros and cons and make a decision based on the options open to you.

The Home Office has the power to increase the level of the original penalty at the appeal stage- so it is very important to proceed with an objection only where you are confident in the merit of your challenge following a legal advice.

If you have received a Civil Penalty for employing illegal workers, it is highly advisable that you seek the help of an immigration lawyer, who can offer urgent assistance and challenge it.

Need legal advice?

UK immigration law is extremely complex and constantly changes. The UKVI has strict criteria relating to different types of visa. Therefore, it is essential you get the right legal advice from an expert UK immigration lawyer to make sure your application is successful, first time. We will guide you through every step of the process, putting you in the best place possible to get a good result.

Why choose Blackstone Law Associates?

Competitive Fixed Pricing

We offer a fixed price service, this means the price you are quoted does not change; We work on fixed fees basis unlike other firms who charge you for each and every call and letter.

Dedicated Lawyer with Direct Access

You will have direct access to our qualified lawyers, with in-depth knowledge of UK Immigration law. Upon instructing us you will be allocated an experienced lawyer who will contact you within 24 hours to discuss your case.

Expert Advice

Immigration laws in the UK change frequently. Our team of lawyers are trained and are kept up to date on all the latest developments. We have a combined wealth of knowledge and experience. Our expert immigration lawyers can provide advice and the best possible option available for you.

Highest Success Rate

We are proud to claim that through our wealth of knowledge and experience we are able achieve the results that are needed. Our expert Lawyers put their full efforts in your case as we strongly believe in getting for you what you want.

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