Those who are found working illegally in England and Wales could face up to six months in jail under proposals in the forthcoming immigration bill, to be introduced this autumn.
The legal defense for businesses employing illegal migrants is set to change too. Instead of claiming that they did not know their employees were illegal, businesses will have to carry out proper checks before employing people, with civil penalties being raised. The jail sentence for employers found guilty will be raised from 2 years to 5 years in addition to fines in place.
This includes off-licences and takeaway restaurants that employ illegal migrants.
It is also being discussed whether this should be extended to cab operators and drivers.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire has 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.’
The new ‘right to rent’ scheme gives landlord checks of immigration status, with penalities of up to five years in jail for landlords found guilty and the DVLA can check immigration status and report and revoke licenses.