SIX Indian restaurant workers were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences when Home Office officials conducted an enforcement operation at the Ghandi Tandoori in Rye.
Officers visited the Cinque Ports Street restaurant at 5.40pm on Saturday and carried out checks on staff.
Four of the arrested men were found to have overstayed their visas, and two were discovered to be working in the UK illegally. Of the six, five are in their 30s and one is aged 44.
All the arrested men are currently detained, and steps are being taken to remove them from the UK.
A seventh man, also from Bangladesh, was also found to be working in breach of his visa. He was dismissed from employment and will report regularly to the Home Office to ensure the terms of his stay in the UK are not being breached.
The business owner was served with a penalty notice for employing the illegal workers. To avoid a fine of up to £10,000 per employee evidence must be provided that the correct pre-employment checks were made on the workers – such as seeing a passport or Home Office document.
But restaurant owner Shareef said he had done all he could to carry out checks on the workers and that he had believed they were legitimate .
He said: “We welcome these Home Office checks. We want to be open and above board. It is good the check took place.”
Commenting on how the raid had affected business, he said: “We are still open for business. We managed to take a few orders on Saturday but we lost a lot of money.
Louise Whiteoak, head of the Home Office Immigration Enforcement team in Sussex, said: “Employers who take on illegal workers are both fuelling illegal immigration and undercutting businesses which play by the rules. The message to employers in East Sussex who choose to use illegal labour is clear. We will catch you and you could face a heavy penalty.
“We are happy to work with businesses to let them know what checks need to be made on workers but those who break the law should know that they will face heavy fines.”
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “Every day we undertake operations like this across the country to combat illegal working.”