Illegal working: dealing with a criminal allegation
Produced in partnership with Daniel Bunting of 2 Dr. Johnson's Buildings
Illegal working: dealing with a criminal allegation

The following Immigration guidance note Produced in partnership with Daniel Bunting of 2 Dr. Johnson's Buildings provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Illegal working: dealing with a criminal allegation
  • Offence of employing an illegal worker—overview
  • What will trigger a prosecution?
  • Definition of the offence
  • Who is an employee?
  • Test for employment versus self-employment
  • Employee or volunteer?
  • Liability of a body
  • Investigatory Powers of an immigration officer
  • What happens in an investigation?
  • more

This Practice Note provides an overview of the main criminal offences relating to illegal working and discusses practical aspects of dealing with a criminal investigation and prosecution. For information on the civil penalty regime relating to illegal working, see Practice Note: Illegal working: dealing with a civil penalty.

This Practice Note covers the law as it applies to England and Wales only.

This Practice Note focuses on prosecution under section 21 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (IANA 2006), however, for information on other illegal working offences, see Other offences below.

Offence of employing an illegal worker—overview

The main illegal working offence is contained in IANA 2006, s 21. This offence is committed if, on or after 12 July 2016, an employer employs anyone knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that they are a ‘disqualified person’.

A person is a disqualified person if:

  1. the person has not been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK, or

  2. the person’s leave to enter or remain in the UK:

    1. is invalid

    2. has ceased to have effect (whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time or otherwise), or

    3. is subject to a condition preventing the person from doing work of that kind

It expected that 'employs' in new IANA 2006, s 21(1A), as introduced by section 35 of the Immigration Act