• Wednesday, May 29, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Immigration officers arrest 12 Indians in West Midlands

A file photo of an Immigration Enforcement van driving through central London. (iStock photo)

Shajil KumarBy: Shajil Kumar

Eleven men and one woman, all said to be Indian nationals, have been arrested by immigration authorities in a series of raids in West Midlands on suspicion of violating visa conditions and working illegally.

According to a statement from the Home Office on Wednesday, Immigration Enforcement officers descended on the bedding and mattress business in the West Midlands region of England following a tip off.

They arrested seven men – all Indian nationals – for suspected illegal working,” the Home Office said.

“Four more Indian men were arrested at a nearby cake factory. They were found to be in breach of their visa conditions, and one was also working illegally. An Indian woman was then arrested for immigration offences at a private home, with further raids planned throughout the afternoon,” it said.

The officials said four of the offenders were detained pending consideration for removal from the UK or deportation to India, and the remaining eight have been bailed on the condition they report regularly to the Home Office.

Meanwhile, the two businesses could now face substantial fines if it is established they employed illegal workers and failed to conduct relevant pre-employment checks.

“This operation is a clear example of the way we are stepping up immigration enforcement activity across the country,” said Michael Tomlinson, UK Minister for Countering Illegal Migration.

“Employers found to be breaching the rules can expect significantly increased fines, and if workers are found to have no right to live or work here, we will not hesitate to act and remove them from the country,” he said.

In February this year, the Home Office tripled fines for employers who allow illegal migrants to work for them.

For a first breach, this has gone from £15,000 to £45,000 per illegal worker, and for repeat breaches within three years, the fines have increased from £20,000 to £60,000.

“Illegal working causes serious harm to communities, puts vulnerable people at risk and defrauds the public purse. The arrests send a clear message that we are clamping down on this dangerous practice,” said Eddy Montgomery, Director of Enforcement, Compliance and Crime at the Home Office.

“People smugglers sell migrants the lie that they can work in the UK. The reality is that they can’t – and those found to be working illegally or facilitating this crime will face the full weight of the law,” he said.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made cracking down on illegal migration a key plank for his government, with tougher visa norms being enforced across different categories in recent months.

From this week, an incremental increase to the minimum income required for overseas applicants, including Indians, to bring their dependents on Family Visas will also come into force – rising to £29,000 from £18,600.

By early next year, this is set to match the Skilled Worker visa threshold of £38,700, which the Home Office said would ensure family dependents brought to the UK are supported financially. (PTI)

Related Stories