What happens if your corporate immigration is non-compliant?
Business immigration can be a complex area of legislation, especially since different countries have different regulations to adhere to. With the possibility of criminal prosecution should your business immigration be found to be non-compliant, however, it is more important than ever to make sure that your corporate immigration practices remain compliant.
No matter what country you’re in, any kind of business immigration non-compliance is likely to be met with some form of penalty, but the type of penalty and its severity will vary from country to country. You might be faced with criminal prosecution, heavy fines or even action from an employment tribunal. Outside of legal or government prosecution, however, such non-compliance could also lead to your company developing a poor reputation among customers and competitors, as well as the possibility of suffering from low staff morale and other damage to the day to day functioning of your business.
In the UK, the responsibility for ensuring corporate immigration compliance lies with the employer. This has been the case since 2008 when the traditional work permit was replaced by Tier 2 of the Points Based System (PBS) and the introduction of sponsor licenses. Should an employer fail to hold the correct sponsor license and comply with UK immigration law, in addition to any fines the Home Office might levy against an employer, the Home Office also has the right to remove any license that allows the company to hire migrant workers in the future and to supply a maximum two-year custodial sentence if the illegal worker was hired knowingly
For a multinational corporation, losing the ability to hold sponsorship licenses and being prevented from recruiting and transferring migrant workers between countries could be detrimental to their business. A custodial sentence could also cause irreversible damage to their reputation and business relationships.
In the USA, penalties for business immigration non-compliance are also severe. Employers in the US who hire unauthorized migrants can face both civil and criminal sanctions and prosecutions. As the US has specific visa types depending on industry, technical skill and managerial level, it is vital to know the exact status of any migrant employee.
Criminal sanctions in the US are especially strict for business immigration non-compliance – company assets can be seized and the business can receive bars to any federal contractor work. Employers can even face prison sentences of up to 10 years under the felony charge of harbouring illegally present individuals for financial gain, encouraging or inducing a person to reside illegally in the US for financial gain, and/or transporting an undocumented person for financial gain. Should any money laundering charges also be brought against the employer, the prison sentence can extend to 20 years, and any fine raised to $500,000.
Elsewhere in the world, similar fines and custodial sentences can be passed against employers and employees who are found to be business immigration non-compliant, regardless of whether it is a long-term work permit or short-term business visa which is violated. All countries treat the matter differently so ensure that you carefully research the immigration laws and respective penalties for any country that is relevant to your business. As an employee, it’s also important to ensure that you know and understand these immigration laws and penalties too since, for example in countries like China or the UAE, employees can also be liable for severe fines and even imprisonment if they are non-compliant. There is often no leniency for ignorance.