Popular Mexican restaurant Wahaca became the focus of the UK immigration authorities earlier this month when UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers conducted a raid on the Bluewater Shopping Centre branch.
Checks were made on the staff at the chain and a 26-year-old man was discovered to be working illegally on an expired UK visa.
The individual, originally from India, had failed to leave the country following the expiration of his UK visa and has now been arrested. He remains in detention awaiting removal from the country.
Meanwhile, Wahaca has received a penalty notice for employing illegal workers. It could now face a fine of up to £10,000 if it is unable to provide evidence that the correct pre-employment checks were carried out before the man was hired. These checks can be as simple as seeing an individual's passport or Home Office document.
Civil penalties are handed out to hundreds of companies every year by the UKBA as too many employers fail to realise the importance of checking their employees' right to work in the country. Taking on illegal employees without the necessary UK visas and work permits impacts the wages of legal workers and prevents people who have gone through the required legal channels from finding employment.
Karyn Dunning, head of the UKBA's local immigration team based in Kent, commented on the problem: “We are carrying out operations like this across Kent every week and where we find people who are here illegally we will seek to remove them.
“We are also targeting employers who take on illegal workers - fuelling illegal immigration and undercutting law-abiding businesses. Companies who fail to carry out the legally-required checks on staff should know that we are out there looking for them and they will face heavy fines.”