UK Visas & Immigration (“UKVI”) has published its quarterly report showing the number of civil penalties for illegal workers found in each region of the UK between 1 January and 31 March 2019 (“the specified period”).

During the specified period, the London and South East region was again found to have the highest number and greatest value of penalties and the highest number of illegal workers. To access UKVI’s quarterly report, please click here.

Figures published by UKVI show that the value of penalties issued during the specified period in the London & South East region ranged from £10,000 to £45,000 (the latter penalty being imposed on an Indian takeaway in Essex). The highest penalty in the specified period is a considerable decrease on the £75,000 maximum penalty that was issued in the previous quarter. In May I wrote that UKVI appeared to be targeting restaurants and food chains and the report published for London & South East region suggests that UKVI remained firmly focused on these employers during the specified period. I’d say that these types of businesses are easy prey for UKVI.

It’s interesting to note that the latest quarterly figures for London and the South East are very similar to the figures from the same quarter last year, at a time when the government’s approach to the hostile environmental was central to its policy.

Given all the uncertainty concerning Brexit during the specified period in the run up to the originally scheduled departure date of 29 March 2019, UKVI may have been forgiven for dedicating a lot of its resources to the expected upcoming exit from the EU. However, these figures show that UKVI has not allowed priorities in other areas to take its eye off the ball when it comes to enforcement action against employers who employ illegal workers.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Chetal Patel, a Partner in the Immigration Department.