03 December 2008

UK employers face £10,000 fine for hiring illegal workers

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As part of the new UK points-based system for immigration, employers required to sponsor overseas workers need a licence to do so, or will face severe penalties.

As of February this year, the Home Office introduced new civil penalties that meant employers who hire workers illegally would face a maximum £10,000 fine.  Further, if employers knowingly hire illegal foreign workers, they can be sent to prison or incur an unlimited fine.

Tier 2 and tier 5 of the new UK immigration system were due to go live 27 November 2008.  As of that date, employers who sponsor overseas migrants and migrants looking for sponsorship for temporary and permanent visas from employers must adhere to the conditions of the new system for UK immigration.

The new system for UK immigration requires employers who wish to hire foreign workers from outside the European Union (EU) to have a valid Employer Sponsorship Licence.  The Home Office has launched a sponsorship management system for licensed sponsors so that they can hire workers under tiers 2 and 5 of the Australian-style points-based system. 

Under the tier 2 category for migration, skilled workers from outside the EU who have a job offer from licensed sponsors can apply for a UK visa as part of the points-based system.  To be able to apply, applicants must have a valid sponsorship certificate and pass the points test.  There are four categories for application under tier 2 including skilled workers, intra-company transfers, ministers of religion and sportspeople.

Tier 5 of the points-based system allows temporary workers from outside the EU who have a job offer from licensed sponsors to apply for a UK visa.  To be able to apply, applicants must also have a valid sponsorship certificate and pass the points test.  Tier 5 has five categories for immigration including creative and sporting workers, charity workers, religious workers, government authorised exchange workers, and international agreement workers.

The Home Office introduced the new system to gain tighter control of UK immigration so that it continues to benefit the British economy and not cause a burden on government services or take away the employment opportunities of British citizens.


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, UK Visa Bureau.


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