Almost one year on since its implementation, the changes made to The Licensing Act 2003 by The Immigration Act 2016 are starting to bite.

Under the measures, immigration checks are part of the process for applying for a licence. Since April 2017, a premises or personal licence cannot be issued to anyone who does not have permission to be or work in the UK. Being granted a licence and continuing to hold it will also be reliant on complying with the UK’s immigration laws. This puts a further requirement on the licence holder / employer to ensure there are no illegal immigrants present at the premises.

The Home Office are consulted in the same way as the police before a licence is granted. If a business has any immigration offences and civil penalties, these will be considered as part of the licence application, and as a ground for making a formal request to a licensing authority for a licence to be reviewed.

Immigration officers now have the same powers as The Licensing Authority enforcement officers and the police to enter any premises being used to sell alcohol or provide late night refreshment, in order to investigate immigration offences.

 

This power has resulted in joint enforcement operations with licensing enforcement officers, and allows immigration officers to enter licensed premises without a warrant where there is intelligence of illegal working taking place. 21st Century Licensing have already noted increasing numbers of licenses being reviewed and ultimately revoked following immigration raids. Around 60% of all civil penalties for illegal working served in the UK in the year to February 2017 were issued in the retail, hotel, restaurant and leisure industry sectors, and we suspect figures will rise as immigration officers embrace their new-found powers.

Our message is simple. Don’t take the risk. Check all your staff have the proper visa or passport documentation proving their right to be in the UK, and the right to work. (check online here). Take copies of all documents supplied by your employees and diarise their expiry dates so you can check they have been renewed… And if you do find your licence is being reviewed contact us at the earliest possible moment.

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