Six illegal workers have been caught working at food outlets in South Shields.
Acting on intelligence, Immigration Enforcement officers visited Zeera, in Ocean Road, and takeaway shop Masterchef, in New Green Street, on Thursday.
Staff at both businesses were questioned in relation to their immigration status.
At Zeera, four Bangladeshi men, aged 21-33, were found to have overstayed their visas.
At Masterchef, a 27-year-old Indian man and a 27-year-old Bangladeshi man were found to have overstayed their visas.
All six men have been detained pending their removal from the UK.
Both businesses were served notices warning they are liable for a financial penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker arrested unless evidence is provided that they carried out legally required right to work checks, such as seeing a passport or a Home Office document confirming permission to work.
This is a potential total penalty of £80,000 for Zeera, and £40,000 for Masterchef.
Assistant director Phillippa Russell, from the North East & Cumbria Immigration Enforcement team, said: “These successful operations reflect our ongoing work to identify people abusing the UK’s immigration system.
“All of our operations are intelligence led and I would encourage people with detailed and specific information about illegal immigration to contact us.
“Using illegal labour is not victimless.
“It cheats the taxpayer, undercuts honest businesses and means legitimate job seekers are denied employment opportunities. It also exploits some of society’s most vulnerable people.
“Employers who do not carry out the simple checks to ensure their staff have the right to work in the UK will face the consequences.”
For more information on right to work checks visit go to https://www.gov.uk/check-job-applicant-right-to-work.
Employers with questions about checking a job applicant’s right to work in the UK can call our dedicated support line for advice on 0300 123 4699.
They can also use the Employers’ Checking Service for checks on migrants with outstanding immigration applications and appeals at www.gov.uk/employee-immigration-employment-status.
Anyone with concerns about illegal working or non compliant employers should report this to the Home Office online at www.gov.uk/report-immigration-crime.