A new offence of illegal working will allow wages to be seized as proceeds of crime. Anyone prosecuted for this new offence will face a sentence of up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine in England and Wales.
The Immigration Bill, due to be introduced this autumn, will include a range of new powers to deter people from trying to find work here illegally and measures to deal more effectively with rogue businesses who offer them employment.
It will build on last year’s Immigration Act in making Britain tougher on those with no right to be here.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said:
Anyone who thinks the UK is a soft touch should be in no doubt — if you are here illegally, we will take action to stop you from working, renting a flat, opening a bank account or driving a car.
As a one nation government we will continue to crack down on abuse and build an immigration system that works in the best interests of the British people and those who play by the rules.
Through our new Immigration Bill, illegal workers will face the prospect of a prison term and rogue employers could have their businesses closed, have their licences removed, or face prosecution if they continue to flout the law.
Using illegal labour exploits workers, denies work to UK citizens and legal migrants and drives down wages. New powers in the Bill will make it easier to prosecute an employer who knows, or reasonably suspects, that the person they employ has no permission to work in the UK.
The existing evidence requirement to prove this offence will be changed in order to boost prosecutions and the current maximum sentence will be increased from two to five years. These powers will operate alongside the existing system of heavy financial penalties.
Any employer who continues to flout the law and evade sanctions could see their business closed for up to 48 hours while they prove right to work checks have been conducted on staff. The worst offenders would then be placed under special measures as directed by the court, which could lead to continued closure and compliance checks.
Further new powers will also mean any pub, off-licence or late night takeaway that fails to comply with immigration laws or employs illegal workers could be stripped of their licence to operate. Consideration is also being given to extend these powers to cover minicab drivers and operators.