NI Businesses Face Fines For Employing Illegal Workers

05 December 2017

Businesses in counties Armagh, Down and Antrim are facing potential penalties totalling up to £140,000 after immigration offenders were found working at their premises.

In intelligence led operations on Saturday, 25 November, Immigration Enforcement officers first visited Golden Peony, Portadown Road, Tandragee. A 35-year-old Chinese man who was an illegal entrant to the UK was arrested. He has since left the UK voluntarily.

Later the same day, at Golden Palace, Edward Street, Lurgan, a 27-year-old Chinese man who had overstayed his visa was arrested.

On Thursday, 30 November, officers visited China’s Finest, Windmill Street, in Ballynahinch and Peking Garden, Cross Street, in Killyleagh. 

At China’s Finest a 51-year-old Chinese man who was an illegal entrant to the UK and has no permission to work was removed from the premises.

A 28-year-old Chinese man who was an illegal entrant to the UK was arrested after he was found working at Peking Garden.

On Saturday, 2 December, officers visited Hong Kong, Shankill Road, Belfast. Three Chinese men were found working illegally.

A 54-year-old man who was an illegal entrant to the UK was arrested; two others, one aged 31 who was a failed asylum seeker and a 35-year-old who was an illegal entrant were removed from the premises.

All those arrested are currently in immigration detention pending their removal from the UK.

Those removed from the premises must now report regularly to Immigration Enforcement whilst their cases are progressed.

The businesses were each served a referral notice in relation to the illegal workers. The notice warns that a financial penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker will be imposed unless the employer can demonstrate that appropriate right-to-work document checks were carried out, such as seeing a passport or Home Office document confirming permission to work.

If proof is not provided this is a potential total of up to £20,000 for Golden Peony, Golden Palace, China’s Finest and Peking Garden.

The potential total for Hong Kong is £60,000.

Mike Golden, from Immigration Enforcement in Northern Ireland, said:


"Those who use and exploit illegal workers face severe financial penalties.

“Using illegal labour is not a victimless crime; it cheats the taxpayer, undercuts honest employers and means legitimate job seekers are denied employment opportunities. It also exploits some of society’s most vulnerable people.

"We are happy to work with businesses to ensure the right pre-employment checks are carried out, but those intent on operating outside the law will be found and will be punished.”

People with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Information to help employers carry out checks to prevent illegal working can be found at

It includes a quick answer right-to-work tool to help employers check if someone has the right to work in the UK.