Immigration is currently at the top of the agenda in terms of public interest and media coverage. In the latest in a wave of crackdowns by the UK Government, the Immigration Minister has announced punishments that people working in the UK illegally will face.

As part of the Immigration Bill, a new offence will be introduced in relation to immigration. Anyone who is prosecuted for ‘Illegal Working’ will face a sentence of up to six months in prison, alongside an unlimited fine that will be definable by whoever presides over the case. The bill is due to be introduced this Autumn with the aim of deterring people from travelling to the UK to obtain illegal employment.

The UK government has faced staunch criticism for its handling of the Calais crisis, leading to details of the bill being released. James Brokenshire, UK Immigration Minister commented “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”. This will follow similar measures that have been put in place in other areas of the world, such as Australia, whose stance on immigration is notoriously strict.

Yet as we stand, the total number of people who have overstayed their visa and whose whereabouts are unknown, is believed to be in the region of 300,000, with no clear indication of how many are working.

It is likely that the government will come under intense scrutiny on Thursday 27 August when the latest official immigration figures are released. In 2014 the net migration figure (number of people entering the country minus the number leaving) was 318,000. If there is an increase of just 2,000 or more on that figure this year, it could take the net migration figure to its highest level since 2005. If that record level of migration is announced, it is likely to lead to further crackdowns by the government in a bid to stick to their commitment to cutting down net migration figures year on year – a commitment on which they have, so far, been unsuccessful.

It is now, therefore, vital that anyone who is currently living and/or working in the country illegally seeks legal advice to mitigate the new penalties that are being introduced. If there is a strong human rights case for that person being in the UK, it is important to begin the process of regularising their stay as soon as possible. The period leading up to the bill’s introduction is an opportunity to take steps toward achieving leave to remain or the relevant work visa before it is too late.
The Immigration Advice Service can assist people who are affected by this issue. IAS’s team of legal professionals will work with applicants, providing advice and support. If you believe that you or someone you know may be affected by the latest crackdowns get in touch by emailing [email protected] or calling 0844 877 0111.