The Home Office’s regime for the prevention of illegal working applies to all UK employers regardless of whether they have a Sponsor Licence or not. This includes a civil penalty scheme, criminal sanctions and restrictions on sponsoring non-EEA nationals to work in the UK.
If you are a licenced sponsor or you intend to become a sponsor, you are in particular exposed to the risk of an immigration audit by UKVI. Failure to comply with immigration laws and sponsor duties could lead to your sponsor licence being revoked and you may be liable to pay costly civil penalties. This inevitably will cause disruption to your business and could damage your business reputation.
As part of the service we provide our business immigration clients, we often visit client premises to review their business’s methods of conducting right to work checks and provide a detailed report highlighting areas of concern. This helps clients understand which areas they can improve on and gives them the opportunity to correct issues which if left uncorrected could lead to costly penalties in the future.
To avoid civil penalties, revocation of sponsor licences and criminal sanctions, employers must carry out the prescribed document checks in accordance to UKVI’s guidance. If UKVI immigration officers visit your premises and find you are employing or have employed an illegal worker in the past, you would have a statutory excuse if you can show that you conducted correct document checks.
HR and those with responsibility for recruitment should have a thorough understanding of their right to work obligations, including the monitoring of visa expiry dates and appropriate follow up checks. Our business immigration lawyers are often instructed by businesses to provide comprehensive training to key personnel and HR staff to ensure they are aware of not only what documents they need to check but also how to identify false documents and how to maintain a proper record.
Our lawyers regularly provide seminars and training sessions aimed at helping HR staff understand how to carry out prescribed document checks correctly.
Challenging UKVI Civil Penalty Notices
Recent changes in immigration laws demonstrate the Government’s tough attitude towards illegal working. Employers found employing illegal workers face penalties of up to £20,000 per worker, criminal sanctions and damage to their business reputation. Responding on time to a Home Office Information Request can reduce a penalty by £5,000 and avoid revocation of a Sponsor Licence.
Our specialist immigration lawyers have a proven track record for successfully quashing civil penalties and in other cases successfully mitigating their reduction. If you have received a Civil Penalty Notice, you will be given the chance to object within 28 days – it is always worth seeking legal advice as you may have a legitimate defence.