You can get a fine (also known as a civil penalty) of up to £20,000 per person for employing illegal workers.

Illegal workers include:

  • students with expired visas, or students working more hours than they’re allowed to
  • people who work on a visitor’s visa

If you’re caught employing an illegal worker

You’ll get a ‘referral notice’ to let you know that:

  • your case is being considered
  • you may get a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker

You won’t have to pay a civil penalty if you can show you made the correct ‘right to work’ checks.

You’ll be sent a ‘civil penalty notice’ if you’re found liable and you’ll have 28 days to respond.

The penalty notice will give you your payment options and tell you what do next. It will also tell you how to object to the civil penalty. You can then make an appeal.

Your business’s details may be published by Immigration Enforcement as a warning to other businesses not to employ illegal workers.

You can be sent to jail for up to 2 years and receive an unlimited fine if you employ someone who you know is working illegally.

Get help and advice

Read more about illegal working penalties.

You can also contact the helpline.

Sponsorship, Employer and Education helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 4699
Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm
Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
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