As a result of the current refugee crisis the political spotlight has once again been thrust on the UK's immigration policy.
David Cameron's recent announcement that the UK will accept up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years has been subject to strong criticism for being too hard-line and stringent. The government's new Immigration Bill echoes this strong political stance with a crackdown on abuse of the immigration system and a promise to build an immigration system that works in the best interests of the British people and those who play by the rules.
The Bill, which will be introduced this autumn, aims to tackle those undocumented migrants who David Cameron states 'undercut the wages of British Workers'.
The government states that the Immigration Bill will introduce new sanctions on illegal immigration, protect public services and tackle exploitation of low-skilled workers.
It will also:
- introduce new sanctions on illegal workers and rogue employers;
- provide better coordination of regulators that enforce workers' right;
- prevent illegal migrants in the UK from accessing housing, driving licenses and bank accounts; and -
- introduce new measure to make it easier to enforce immigration laws and remove illegal migrants.
As stated above, it is of note that employers will come under tougher sanctions under the new Bill. Under previous legislation those employers who previously chose to turn a blind eye to checking whether employees have the right to work were only liable to a civil penalty served on the employing company rather than a criminal prosecution. However, under the new Bill, where a business is prosecuted for knowingly employing an illegal worker, it is also possible to prosecute the individual company officers, including directors, holding them personally to account. New closure orders will also be brought as a sanction against serial employers of illegal workers, and an associated criminal offence of breaching the order.
The Bill also sees a new criminal offence of renting accommodation to an illegal immigrant and makes it easier for landlords to evict illegal migrant tenants.
With the government's undoubtedly tougher approach to immigration, the Immigration Bill builds on the measures brought in by the Immigration Act 2014.
The government also highlights that the Bill creates new powers to combat the facilitation of vulnerable migrants, complementing the immediate action it is taking to resettle the Syrian refugees and further secure border control in Calais.
It is a case of watch this space to see how these new powers are used in practice. Undoubtedly, with immigration being such a political hot potato, the government will have face strong criticism on its hard-line approach.
Further information about the Immigration Bill was published on the government's website on 17 September 2015 and can be found here.
This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.