UK employers will take on immigration enforcement, say experts

Employers in Britain will have to take more responsibility for enforcing immigration rules after Brexit because the Home Office does not have the manpower to monitor EU migrants as well as those from the rest of the world, experts warn.

new immigration system, it has become clear that businesses, universities and landlords will have to shoulder some of the burden for ensuring that migrants comply with visa rules once the UK ends freedom of movement and EU nationals are subject to entry controls. It is expected that immigration officials will categorise some businesses or universities with a good record of compliance — ensuring that workers or students leave the country once their visas have expired — as “highly trusted” visa sponsors so they can focus their attention on riskier organisations.
The major challenge facing the Home Office will be in extending its oversight from non-EU nationals, who are subject to strict visa rules, to cover EU nationals as well. Continuing the same level of scrutiny would mean a significant increase in workload, since the most recent statistics show that 268,000 EU citizens came to the UK in the past year, compared with 257,000 non-EU citizens. During Theresa May’s time as home secretary, the implementation of visa rules for non-EU migrants was partially “outsourced” to employers, universities and landlords. For example, universities have to monitor student attendance and risk losing the right to admit international students in the case of visa non-compliance. These responsibilities are expected to increase.
“In the [post-Brexit] environment, employers will undoubtedly be required to bear an increase in compliance and greater responsibility to monitor all non UK citizens,” she added. “For many employers this will be challenging, particularly as several do not have a clear idea of the current breakdown of their workforce.” However, Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of the business group London First, said there needed to be careful consideration before imposing greater administrative burdens on employers after Brexit. “Business understands the need for control over immigration and is up for working with government on a phased and realistic approach that meets this need,” she said. “It’s difficult to get away from the fact that stricter controls will need better data about the numbers entering and leaving the UK and more resources to manage the system. “Companies have a role to play, but I’d be concerned if business was expected to do government’s job or foot the bill.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We said we would use the opportunity of leaving the European Union to take control of our immigration system and we will do exactly that.