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A wealth of common sense

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Quite a few young architects are from the Commonwealth and not necessarily working here completely legally. When there is a lot of work about, practice partners and directors are helpfully vague about asking too many questions when recruiting.

Only now are partners beginning to realise that their omission to check whether that amiable and talented Canadian is subject to immigration controls could turn into a court hearing, a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £5,000 per person.

This is a far cry from the old days when, apparently, highprofile practices relied on a steady stream of young Commonwealth architects who would work for peanuts simply to have the name of the practice on their CV. Naturally, this does not happen in these strait-laced times.

This being a rule devised by Whitehall, it has labyrinthine provisos. Young, overseas office fodder can claim to be on a two-year working holiday, one year of which they can work full-time. So, if you have been contemplating tipping off immigration heavies about that nice Australian who has just started seeing the person in the office you thought was your squeeze for life, don't bother. Chances are nothing will happen.

Don't ask me what the average tariff is or whether any architectural practice has yet been criminalized over this, but you might like to write in if you are in the know.

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