Online UK visa check to be established

06 Dec 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Employers will soon be able to access an online UK visa check service to look into the background of a migrant's immigration details.

The scheme is due to become operational early next year and will be aimed specifically at helping business to avoid large fines for employing people with forged or invalid UK work permits.

At the moment, companies can be hit with fines of up to £10,000 for each migrant worker employed illegally if they cannot prove that the correct right-to-work checks were carried out before the individual was hired.

With the new system, it is hoped that checking the validity of a UK work permit will be significantly easier, making it harder for companies to dodge checks and harder for people for illegal workers to gain employment in Britain.

Damian Green, the UK immigration minister, clarified: "The message is clear - the UK is no longer a soft touch for illegal workers." He noted that the new online tool will "turn up the pressure" while giving employers "the tools they need to meet their obligations".

The changes come as a wider effort is being made by the government to lower immigration from more than 250,000 to "tens of thousands" by the end of government.