UK Border Force Civil Penalty Schemes for Haulage Companies, Employers and Landlords
Turning citizens into immigration enforcement officers
British citizens and others are increasingly being required to act as immigration officials and decide who has a legal right to enter and live in the UK: Haulage companies and drivers who enter the UK are being penalised for inadvertently bringing people without valid passports or visas either into the UK or a UK immigration zone in France; employers and landlords are being held responsible for conducting immigration checks on people seeking employment or private residential accommodation. Responsibility also extends to reporting ‘illegal immigrants’ to the UK immigration authorities. At the same time, citizens must also comply with laws about equality and non-discrimination, putting them at further risk of breaking the law if they wrongly deny the opportunity of employment or accommodation or only require proof of immigration status from people they assume are ‘migrants’.
In 2016, the law was extended again and has led to the creation of criminal offences for landlords (or their agents) and employers (or recruitment agencies) if they are shown to have reasonable grounds for believing that the person seeking employment did not have the right to work or a prospective tenant did not have the right to rent. In the case of landlords, this extends to family members of the tenant and to lodgers. Haulage companies and lorry drivers are facing increasing risks at or near ports in France with not only livelihoods but also personal welfare at risk as a result of increasing barriers to access to the UK and the methods used by people smugglers who assist people to travel illegally to the UK.
So citizens are becoming law enforcement officials but without the training, protection and support which immigration officers enjoy. In addition, citizens are incurring the costs involved in setting up and maintaining records which do not relate to the normal business, adding burdens to the existing demands of their businesses.
Fountain solicitors has a well-established team of immigration specialists and is now extending its services to provide support, legal advice and assistance to haulage companies (and their drivers), employers (and recruitment agencies) and landlords (and their agents). This includes dealing with the UK Border Force and the courts if that is the course of action that seems the best option available. The person responsible for this work is Sue Conlan who has 30 years’ experience in the field of immigration law, policy and practice.