The government has published a white paper outlining the new immigration system that will take effect once the UK leaves the European Union. These new rules put an emphasis on skills rather than country of origin, and are designed to end free movement and to bring net migration down to a sustainable level.
As the scandal around the Windrush generation continues to unfold, it has been suggested that one method of preventing similar issues in the future is the reintroduction of national identity cards.
It’s been a year since the government changed laws to increase penalties for employing illegal workers in the UK. Business owners can now face a jail term of up to five years and an unlimited fine if they are found to have knowingly employed an illegal worker, and could be fined up to £20,000 per worker if they haven’t done the correct checks to ensure that staff are legally entitled to work here.
But this change hasn’t stopped the UK’s growing labour black market, where many immigrants struggle with language and lack of skills. The only option for illegal immigrants for whom legal employment would expose them to the authorities, is to work in the shadow economy and under the radar of those that could deport them. Paid in cash, workers are subject to low wages and poor conditions, with no benefits or rights. Many illegal immigrants are brought here by employers, tying the workers to a life of inhumane conditions and no prospects.
Black market labour is not regulated and therefore difficult to measure, however the estimated cost to the treasury is £2 billion a year, or 7% of GDP. But the costs don’t just weigh heavily on the purse strings of the country’s economy, every year hundreds of thousands of immigrants come to the UK looking for work, and many of them are forced into working in the black market where they are exploited by ruthless employers looking to save on tax and employment costs.
Latest immigration figures put the number of migrants to the UK for year ending June 2016 at 650,000, with 11% of the total labour market believed to be migrants. Illegal immigration is impossible to account for, those that stand up to be counted face deportation, therefore attempts are rarely made at estimating it. This makes the number of people working in the black market and the size of the problem difficult to gauge.
Whether Brexit and the governments year old policy will have any bearing on the UK labour black market remains to be seen. But in a culture where zero-hour contracts and the gig economy continue to grow along with a rise in xenophobic attitudes, the labour black market is booming, not helped by the chaotic and unstable state of immigration in the UK.
What can be done?
Here at Security Watchdog we have a team of highly skilled and knowledgeable Immigration experts who can ensure your company only employs people who are cleared to work in the UK.
The European Court of Justice is to rule on a case involving a dual British-Spanish citizen seeking authorisation for her Algerian husband to live with her in the UK.
Under current UK immigration law, British nationals must meet certain criteria before bringing family members from outside of the EEA into the country. In this case however, the applicant, a Spanish woman who has settled in the UK and acquired British citizenship whilst retaining her Spanish citizenship, is attempting to use her rights under EU law which state that any individual moving to another EU country is entitled to bring family members, including adult dependents, with them and are less restrictive than UK immigration rules.
The woman’s husband, currently residing in the UK, has applied for a residence card based on the rights bestowed by her EU membership, but was turned down by the Home Office based on her status as a UK citizen.
The case was referred to the Grand Chamber by the High Court last year and its significance and possible ramifications have attracted legal submissions from Spain, Poland and the UK Home Secretary. If the Home Office wins the case, precedence could be set for all EU countries to put their own domestic policies before those set out in EU law, which could have wide reaching ramifications not just for the UK, but also the other 27 EU member states.
This would also indicate that any dual nationality EU nationals currently living within the UK are no longer recognised as EU citizens in the context of their rights to bring family members from outside the EEA into the UK, which in turn could affect many EU nationals currently considering applying for British citizenship to secure their right to remain in the UK post Brexit.
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