Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that she will be simplifying Britain's visa system. The purpose of doing this is to make the nation more attractive to businesses. Her most recent announcement is that she plans to reduce the types of visas required for visitors to the UK in the business category from fifteen to four from April 2015.
Although the purpose of this change is to make Britain more attractive to businesses by reducing the red tape and cutting down processing times, as it stands, recruiting non EU nationals is very complex and many have their reservations as to whether her plans will have the desired impact.
Making sure that all the rules are adhered to is very challenging for an employer, and there are some important issues which employers should be aware of in order to avoid sanctions by the Home Office. Most importantly, every employer must check that each employee has the right to work in the UK. Employers must request to see employees' passports and any other documents (such as a biometric residence permits or immigration status documents) that confirm their right to work. Copies of these must be kept on the employee's file and be available for inspection by the Home Office.
These rules are in place to make it harder for people with no right to work in the UK to unlawfully gain or keep employment. The Government is keen to deter employers from engaging illegal workers and has set the maximum fine under the civil penalty regime at £20,000 per illegal worker and can trigger criminal prosecution. For employers, this highlights the importance of checking what their obligations are when employing an overseas worker and adhering to those obligations.
If these employee checks are conducted according to the regulations and the required copy documents are kept, an employer will avoid being fined. However, if an employer has been informed that the Home Office is going to impose a fine, that employer has the right to challenge it, in which case professional advice is essential.
A full guide on the checks that the employer needs to carry out can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/check-job-applicant-right-to-work
At Gherson, we have a specialised team that are able to advise employers with regards to employing migrants and we provide clear advice on being compliant with the Home office rules and regulations.