A simple guide to the updated Immigration Act 2016
28 July 2016
On 12 May 2016, an updated version of the Immigration Act came into force. According to the government website, the overall aim of the updates was to:
- introduce new sanctions on illegal workers and rogue employers
- provide better co-ordination of regulators that enforce workers’ rights
- prevent illegal migrants in the UK from accessing housing, driving licences and bank accounts
- introduce new measures to make it easier to enforce immigration laws and remove illegal migrants
Whilst some sections of the Act came into force immediately, other sections need to be brought into force by commencement orders at later dates. The first commencement order brought some sections into force on 31 May and others on 12 July.
We have summarised the key changes below.
- Anyone who does not have permission to be in the UK may face the removal of certain privileges, such as having their bank accounts frozen or driving licences removed.
- It will become a criminal offence (with up to five years in prison) for a landlord to knowingly rent premises to an illegal immigrant.
- Employers who knowingly hire illegal migrants will face criminal sanctions.
- The illegal workers themselves will also be personally liable for a fine of up to 51 weeks’ pay and/or up to six months in prison. Illegal pay can be recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
- The Chief Immigration Officer has been granted the power to close a business premises of a previously non-compliant company for up to 48 hours where illegal working is suspected.
- Pending the outcome of an appeal against a removal decision, any migrant can now be removed to their home country. This extends the so-called ‘deport first, appeal later’ scheme, which previously only applied to certain migrants (e.g. convicted criminals with no residency rights).
- Measures will be put in place to relocate unaccompanied refugee children from other European countries to the UK.
In April 2017, a new ‘annual skills levy’ will also be imposed on employers sponsoring Tier 2 migrant workers or extending existing Tier 2 visas. This will be £1,000 per migrant for large employers and £364 for small employers or charities.
If you’d like to find out more about ensuring compliance with the updated Act, particularly if your company employs migrant workers, get in touch with Garth Coates Solicitors today.