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On 12 May 2016, the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent and became the Immigration Act 2016 (the Act).
The Act will:
Extend the existing criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal worker to apply where an employer has reasonable cause to believe that the employee is disqualified from employment by reason of his/her immigration status.
Increase the maximum term of imprisonment for conviction of the above offence on indictment from two to five years.
Create a new offence of illegal working and enable the earnings of illegal workers to be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Give the Secretary of State the power to impose an 'immigration skills charge' on employers who make immigration skills arrangements. Immigration skills arrangements are 'arrangements made by a person (the sponsor) with the Secretary of State with a view to securing that an individual is granted entry clearance or leave to remain in the United Kingdom to enable the individual to work for the sponsor in the Unite Kingdom'.
Require public authorities to ensure that each person who works for them in a customer-facing role speaks fluent English.
Give the Secretary of State the power to appoint a Director of Labour Market Enforcement to oversee the enforcement of labour market legislation.
Make it a criminal offence for a person against whom a Labour Market Enforcement order is made to fail to comply with the order without reasonable excuse.
It has been confirmed that the provisions in (1), (2), (3) and (6) above will come into force on 12 July 2016.
The remaining provisions will be brought into force in stages by secondary legislation, although these dates have not yet been confirmed. The immigration skills charge is likely to come into force in 2017.
We shall keep you updated on when the rest of the Act comes into force.