Migrants who work in the UK illegally will face up to six months in prison under a new law set to be brought in.
The Government has released details of its new Immigration Bill today, which will also include new powers to shut down businesses who employ people without the right to work in the country.
“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,” Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said.
“As a one nation government we will continue to crack down on abuse and build an immigration system that works in the best interests of the British people and those who play by the rules.
“Illegal workers will face the prospect of a prison term and rogue employers could have their businesses closed, have their licences removed, or face prosecution if they continue to flout the law.”
The new rules will see migrants who are caught working without the right documentation moved from work into prison.
The plans were criticised by the Migrants Rights Network, which called the proposed penalty “grossly disproportionate”.
“The proposal to create a criminal offence which could lead to a six-month prison sentence with an unlimited fine for anyone found working without the right papers is also a grossly disproportionate to any harm which migrants in a vulnerable position may be considered to have done,” said Don Flynn, the group’s director.
The Government had already announced that “illegally working” would become an offense.
Businesses who employ people convicted of such an office will be able to have their licences revoked.
The planned tightening of laws comes after criticism of the Government’s handling of the migration situation in Calais.
The move to make it more difficult to work in the UK moves to address a perception by those in some other countries that it is easier to work without the right documentation in the UK
Polling by YouGov conducted earlier this month found that the French population believed this was the primary reason for some migrants and refugees travelling through France to the UK.
The announcement comes ahead of a new round of immigration statistics, set to be released on Thursday of this week.
Additional reporting by PA
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