Immigration Update - Penalty for illegal working doubles to £20,000 as government toughens up on employers

5 February 2014

Charging for Home Office Immigration & Nationality Services 2014/2015

On 3 February the Home Office announced proposals for fee changes for visas, immigration and nationality applications which will come into effect on 6 April 2014. In addition, new fees for premium services overseas are due to come into effect one week earlier.

The majority of fees will be increased by 4% but significantly, dependants will see the removal of the 25% discount applied to their fees when submitting an application at the same time as the main applicant. This represents a considerable increase for employers sponsoring migrants with several dependants and the increase will make applications for indefinite leave to remain particularly costly; the new fee of £1,093 will apply to the main applicant and each dependant, which will take the application fees for a family of 4 to over £4,000.

For Tier 2 applications the fee rises a modest 4% from £494 to £514 for overseas applications and from £578 to £601 for those made within the UK.

Of particular interest is the announcement that new rules will be introduced to enable Tier 2 applicants to apply for entry clearance or leave to remain for up to five years, however, it comes with a hefty price tag – £1,028 for overseas applicants and £1,202 for those applying within the UK. The same fee also applies for each dependant. This will be a significant up front cost for employers sponsoring long term migrants, although it should be borne in mind that it will remove the need to submit an extension application after 3 years, as is the case under the current arrangements.

The fee to submit an application in person at a Premium Service Centre (known as Public Enquiry Offices until 1 April) will rise from £375 to £400, in addition to the standard application fee. The priority postal fee will rise from £275 to £300.

Under the Registered Traveller scheme for frequent business visitors, a yearly fee of £50 will be introduced following a successful pilot.

Outside the UK the Home Office will expand the number of premium services which are currently only available in a limited number of countries and are introducing a global fee for services that are currently charged at local rates. A fee of £100 for a 3-5 day priority visa service and a similar service for settlement applications will also be available, for a fee of £300. The availability of a super priority visa service will be expanded whereby for a fee of £600, the visa application will usually be decided within 24 hours.

The passport pass-back service will also be rolled out to more locations to enable applicants to hold onto their passport for most of the application process to facilitate travel. The fee for this will be £40 per applicant.

There are a number of fee reductions, notably a reduction in the fee for a Sponsor Licence application to £1476. Also Tier 2 shortage occupations fees are reduced to £428 for both overseas applicants and in-country applicants. Please click here for a link to the new fees schedule.

Penalty for illegal working doubles to £20,000 as government toughens up on employers

From the 6 April 2014, the maximum civil penalty for employing illegal migrant workers will double from £10,000 to £20,000. This change was headlined in the Home Office consultation in 2013 in response to which 62% of employers agreed that the maximum penalty should be increased for those who repeatedly breach the current legislation.

The new upper limit for civil penalties will apply to employers who breach the illegal working rules on more than one occasion. The current legislation requires all employers to undertake checks on each employee to satisfy themselves that the person is eligible to work in the UK.

In addition to these initial checks, employers must carry out a repeat document check at least once every 12 months for any employee whose leave to remain in the UK is limited in time. It is possible that this requirement could be removed and replaced by a check linked to the expiry of the employee’s leave to remain, a change which 81% of employers responding to the consultation favoured.

Please contact a member of our immigration team if you need further information and guidance on the above.

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