Posted on News Oct 2013 - by Maria Fernandez
It is quite common place for unannounced visits to be made particularly to restaurants that are considered to be “high risk” and therefore justifying this action. The new Immigration Bill which was introduced on the 10th October will become law by Spring 2014. The focus of the Bill is the stamping out of illegal immigration. As part of this process the Government have announced that there will be increased powers to Immigration Officers to search the property of third parties to look for evidence and to take fingerprints. 
It is vital for those restaurants that hold a licence, and even those that don’t, that careful attention is taken to collect and retain evidence of the immigration status of applicants. Then, if there is ever a visit, the matter can be cleared up very quickly and this will save the disruption that such a visit would inevitably bring.
What is interesting is that the new Immigration Bill has not introduced measures to increase the fine for employing an illegal worker despite the fact that this was the plan. The Government released a consultation paper which asked for views and indicated their intention to increase the fine from £10,000 to £20,000 per worker. The issue has not gone away. The consultation ended in August and it is quite likely to emerge at some point during next the course of the Parliament. 
It is inevitable that employers have begun and will continue to carry increased administrative burdens of checking the status of employees. The only good news for restaurants are that the consultation paper appeared to favour  reducing the burden of checking these documents from every 12 months (which is currently the case) and instead requiring that records only be kept of expiry of leave.
Many employers are reluctant to apply for sponsorship on the basis that it involves too much work. What is clear is that there will be an increasing need to keep paperwork in order and in many respects holding a licence will be a good way of developing a systematic approach to the matter in the long run and also at the same time enable an employer to widen the recruitment pool.
Many employers do not realise that if an applicant wants to be employed but is claiming that their paperwork is with the Home Office, it is possible to obtain confirmation that this is the case directly from the Home Office and obtain confirmation that the person is allowed to work whilst the matter is under process. The email address for checking this is Once an employer receives this confirmation, it provides a defence should the situation be any different. This however only applies to those who have pending applications or appeals.
The starting point is that all employers must not only check the passport or biometric card of the proposed employee but must also keep copies. It is advisable to keep copies of the front page and the visa page. The person who verifies the passport should, as a matter of good practice, sign and date it against the copy. The checks have to be completed and the employer should have the paperwork in place before the employment begins. There is no room for arguing that an employer was waiting for the paperwork but the employee started work. The copies of these documents must then be filed along with the other documents of the employee such as a contract of employment, contact details and emergency contact. Those who do not have a system to keep their paperwork in order will not be able to survive in this climate.
When employing students it is recommended that a copy of their term dates and registration is also obtained and copied, and borne in mind when offering them employment. Some students are allowed to work for 20 hours, others for 10 hours, and others not at all. You need to know what category your student falls into.
At present documents have to be re-checked every 12 months and a note made of the date and any changes. This, as explained above may change.
When taking on a migrant worker where advertising has to be carried out, it is essential that copies of the advert and responses are filed and available should you be required to do so.  Payment of cash is prohibited for Tier 2 employees where the employee holds a licence. This by itself could result in a suspension of a licence.
If an employee leaves your employment you must preserve their documents, if necessary in a different file. It is good practice to keep them for at least 6 years. If you have a licence they must be kept, at least, for the life of the licence.
Contact with the Sponsor licencing team is through email. There are many emails of changes that are sent, some relevant, others not. It is vitally important to check emails regularly and it is also vitally important not to use an email which is accessible by others.
Where restaurateurs own their  building or rent the entire property and accordingly have rooms  upstairs, they will potentially be caught by the new Immigration Bill which will not only give greater powers to Immigration Officers to search premises but they could also be caught by new rules which will require landlords to check the immigration status of the occupants. The consequence of this is facing a penalty for housing migrants who are illegal in some way.  Potentially, there could be a liability both as an employer and as a landlord.
Restaurants need to adapt the way they have functioned so far if they want to survive the onslaught of changes that are due. Taking a grip of the situation now will prevent a disruption of your business.
Maria Fernandes has been in practice exclusively in immigration for the past 28 years. Fernandes Vaz is based at 87 Wembley Hill Road Wembley in Wembley and can be contacted by telephone on 02087330123, by email on The website can be found at
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