Employers who hire illegal workers could be fined £2,000 under new plans announced today.
The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill is part of the government’s strategy to tighten immigration controls.
The plans also include allowing immigration officers to check biometric information, such as fingerprints.
And it would reduce the rights of migrants to appeal against decisions about applications for work and study visas.
Under the plans, anyone knowingly employing illegal workers could be jailed for two years or face an unlimited fine.
Home Office figures show that only two people were prosecuted for employing workers in the UK illegally in 2003 – the most recent for which records exist.