In a fresh crackdown on illegal immigrants, people found working unlawfully in the UK will face up to six months in jail and could have their wages seized under the proposals announced by the government on Tuesday.
The proposals, to be included in the country’s new Immigration Bill which will be introduced in Parliament in the autumn session starting next month, will also have penalties like unlimited fine on those employing illegal workers and wages being seized.
“Anyone who thinks the UK is a soft touch should be in no doubt – if you are here illegally, we will take action to stop you from working, renting a flat, opening a bank account or driving a car,” said Immigration Minister James Brokenshire.
“As a one nation government we will continue to crack down on abuse and build an immigration system that works in the best interests of the British people and those who play by the rules,” he added.
This is the latest in a series of announcements as the centre-right Conservative Party government tries to curb soaring immigration figures — a sensitive topic in British politics, after increasing attempts by migrants to reach England.
Takeaways and off-licences, the most common targets for illegal workers, could lose their licences if they were found to be employing illegal workers.
Officials are also considering whether this provision should be extended to cover minicab drivers and operators.
The legal defence for other kinds of business discovered using illegal workers will also change.
They will no longer be able to claim they did not know a particular employee was not allowed to work – they will have to show that they carried out proper checks before taking them on.
The maximum sentence for employers found guilty will be raised from two to five years, in addition to the fines already in force.
Earlier, it had been announced that landlords will be able to end tenancies, sometimes without a court order, when asylum requests fail, and will be required to check a migrant’s status in advance of agreeing a lease.
Repeat offenders could face up to five years in prison.
Immigration officers are reported to be preparing to mount a wave of raids this autumn targeting building sites, carehomes and cleaning contractors.