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Immigration Bill: Government proposes new enforcement powers

29 May 2015 #Immigration

Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech, which marked the state opening of parliament, set out the new government’s ‘one-nation’ programme of legislation. The Immigration Bill featured amongst a total of 26 bills proposed and its aim is to “control immigration”.

Through the new bill the government intends to:-

create an offence of illegal working, with police being given the power to seize wages paid to illegal workers as the proceeds of crime

  • set up a new enforcement agency to tackle what David Cameron has called “the worst cases of exploitation”
  • make it an offence for businesses and recruitment agencies to hire abroad without first advertising in the UK
  • extend existing document checks by landlords and banks to stop undocumented migrants from renting housing or opening a bank account
  • consult on the introduction of a new visa levy on businesses that recruit overseas labour, the proceeds of which will be used to fund extra apprenticeships for British and EU workers

In an address to the Home Office last week David Cameron expanded on the proposals, saying that reform of the UK’s immigration and labour market rules is necessary in order to “reduce the demand for skilled migrant labour and crack down on the exploitation of unskilled workers.”

As well as the proposals listed above, Mr Cameron said that the government will also consider imposing a limit on the time that professions could be classed as having a ‘skills shortage’, meaning that employers do not need to advertise those roles for 28 days before being able to sponsor a migrant worker. He suggested that sectors that have become “over-reliant on migrant workers” will be encouraged to train Brits and he pledged to create 3 million more apprenticeships, a plan that will be introduced through the Full Employment and Welfare Benefits bill.

Commentators have warned that the immigration bill, if it were to become law, would deter people from outside the EEA coming to work in the UK because of the level of scrutiny they would face. Businesses may also be dissuaded from sponsoring skilled migrants if mistakes in the process could result in prosecution. The new criminal offence of illegal working will apply equally to newcomers as it will to migrants who have came to the UK legally but are in breach of their conditions or who have overstayed. Employers and employees who have no intention of working or employing someone illegally could find themselves liable if a mistake has been made in the visa process.

Immigration is already a complex and fast-changing area of law and employers can too easily make mistakes in the sponsorship and visa processes. At Clarkslegal we are on top of changes in the law and we can support you and your business at each step of the way to ensure compliance. We will be monitoring the progress of the immigration bill as it progresses through parliament. Get in touch with our immigration team if you need help or guidance.

Clarkslegal, specialist Immigration lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Immigration matter please contact Clarkslegal's immigration team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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Immigration team
+44 (0)20 7539 8000