Waiting for a work permit
How long will it take to get an employee into the UK with a UK Work Permit?
Currently it is taking about three to four weeks for a work permit to be approved.
Most people need to apply for entry clearance to the UK prior to travelling to the UK. There is also a requirement that the spouse and dependents of the work permit holder apply for entry clearance.
Because of Security clearance procedures, applications can take longer for Russian nationals, and can take a lot longer for nationals of North Korea, Libya, Iraq, and China (PRC).
In general, entry clearance applications to the UK may take another one or two weeks after the Work Permit is issued.
Employment before the work permit is ready
During the application process, the candidate is allowed to visit the UK. However, until the permit is approved they are not allowed to begin work. They may only participate in activities permitted for business visitors.
The penalties for employing someone illegally are becoming ever more severe.
Until 1997 if a candidate was employed illegally, then they could be deported and would suffer a 'black mark' on their immigration history, but the employer faced no legal liability for having employed them.
In 1997 it became a criminal offence for you to employ someone in breach of their visa conditions.
In 1999 the law changes again. If a candidate is employed in breach of their visa conditions they will not be subject to deportation proceedings. Instead, they will be treated as an illegal entrant. While deportation sounds severe, it is a procedure against which one can appeal. Illegal entrants can be simply walked off site and onto a plane. The business discontinuity costs of this could be very severe – particularly if you loose several employees at once.