Takeaways and bars face immigration checks to tackle illegal working
Thousands of bars, nightclubs, off-licences and takeaways will face immigration checks under new powers to tackle illegal working.
From Thursday the Home Office will examine applications for licences granted to outlets that sell alcohol, or provide late-night refreshments, such as kebab shops.
The measures are part of the Government's efforts to create a "hostile environment" for those living and working in the UK unlawfully.
About 60% of all civil penalties for illegal working served in the year to February were issued in the retail, hotel, restaurant and leisure industry sectors.
Under the new regime, immigration checks will be part of the process for applying for a licence.
Applicants will be required to submit documentation proving a right to work.
Those found to have no permission to live or work in the country will see their application blocked.
The Home Office will be added to the list of authorities, such as the police, who are routinely consulted before a licence is granted, and a ny history of immigration offences or civil penalties will be considered as part of an application.
The clampdown will also see immigration officers given the same powers as licensing enforcement officers and police to enter a premises being used to sell alcohol or late-night refreshments as part of investigations into possible immigration offences.
In the year to March 2016, just under 10,000 new licence applications were made for premises.
The changes taking effect on Thursday are not retrospective.
Immigration minister Robert Goodwill said: "Illegal working cheats the taxpayer, has a negative impact on the wages of lawful workers and allows rogue employers to undercut legitimate businesses.
"These new measures will allow us to work more effectively with licensing authorities and the police to prevent illegal working in a high-risk sector and take the action needed against businesses flouting immigration laws."
The new measures, brought in as part of the Immigration Act 2016, apply from Thursday in England and Wales. They will be followed later this year in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Meanwhile, employers that sponsor skilled non-European workers will face a new charge of £1,000 per employee per year from Thursday.
The Immigration Skills Charge is designed to encourage employers to invest in the UK workforce.
But healthcare leaders have warned the levy could cost the NHS millions of pounds and make staff shortages worse.