Illegal immigrants in UK workforces, what’s the consequences?

Carrying out right to work checks is a legal requirement of all UK employers, and even British citizens must be subject to checks. But many companies are unaware of this legislation, despite serious repercussions for non-compliance.

New immigration rules announced

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.

HO leaning on Banks to track down illegal workers and over stayers and shutting their bank services


The Home Office have turned to banks to help in their ongoing battle to get control of the UK’s immigration issues.

As part of Teresa May’s plan to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, banks will now be required to ensure that all account holders are entitled to be in the UK. They will also have the power to shut down any accounts held by those not granted asylum, facing deportation or visa overstayers. Removing access to money and banking services will make staying in the UK much harder according to Home Office officials.

The new legislation which comes into force in January 2018, is part of the Immigration Act 2016, agreed in Parliament in December 2016. Banks have been required to check the immigration status of all those applying for a new account since 2014, but this latest development will target those who have been living in the UK for much longer.

Cifas (the fraud prevention organisation) will provide banks with a list of known illegal immigrants. All account holders will be checked against this list, and those found to be in breach will find that their account has been frozen or will be reported to the Home Office.

The Home Office expects to root out 6,000 people in the first year of using this method, who stated it was “part of our ongoing work to tackle illegal migration.”

But criticisms of the new plan are rife, many believe that banks should not be trusted with such a delicate matter. Mistakes could affect the finances of those living here legally, and problems could prove difficult to rectify. The Home Office has recently come under fire for wrongly sending out deportation demands to people who are eligible to stay in the UK.

Banks must check all established account holders, which is a mammoth task. The Guardian states that 70 million account investigations will take place every quarter.

A Home Office spokesperson described the new legislation as “fair but firm”.

Immigration – Black Market Labour

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. 

Landmark case could have implications for passport applicants

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.

For help with UK immigration law, please contact us using the button below.