United Kingdom: New Criminal Penalties for Foreign Nationals Working Illegally and Their Employers

In an effort to further prevent illegal work in the United Kingdom, new provisions were introduced by the Immigration Act 2016 stating that foreign nationals found to be undertaking employment in the United Kingdom after disqualification from employment for immigration-related reasons are subject to a criminal offence. Employers are also subject to new penalties if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that a foreign worker has no right to work in the United Kingdom. Both offences can lead to imprisonment or a fine.

The new provision will apply to any offence committed on or after July 12, and will not apply retroactively.

Applicability to Migrant Workers

A migrant worker who knows or has reasonable cause to believe that he or she has been disqualified from working by reason of their immigration status is now considered to have committed an immigration offence.

The law defines a person disqualified from undertaking employment in the United Kingdom by reason of immigration status where:

• Leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom has not been granted;
• Leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom has ceased to be effective (whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time, or otherwise); or
• The individual is subject to a condition preventing him or her from undertaking the work (for example a Tier 4 Student.)

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