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Education briefing - Immigration round-up: September 2021

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings

23-09-2021

 

Welcome to our regular immigration round-up, providing a helpful summary of what's new and in the pipeline for UK immigration, along with links to a wealth of detailed resources and courses at your disposal. 

In this edition, you can find:

We hope you find these updates useful. 

UK immigration update

COVID-19: Travel ban, quarantine requirements and traffic light system: how this affects sponsored migrants and visa applicants?

Recap: All travellers entering the UK from outside the Common Travel Area (unless exempt) must, upon arrival, comply with the rules in force at the time in the ‘Red, amber and green list rules for entering England’ which set out what travellers must do when they arrive in England, with details of all countries and which categories they fall into. Each traffic light category has a set list of actions required before travel and on arrival in England.

The guidance is regularly updated to reflect the changes in the rules. Similar guidance can be found for WalesScotland and Northern Ireland under Section 7: Return to the UK.

It should be noted that there are some exemptions: these job roles may be exempt from one of more of the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The roles that qualify for travel exemptions are continuously changing so it is important to monitor those who may be exempt from the restrictions.

On 17 September the Government announced that from 4 October the rules for international travel to England will change from the red, amber, green traffic light system to a single red list of countries and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world.

Reminder: It is important to monitor and regularly check the list of impacted countries and requirements for quarantine/entry, as countries are added/removed as do the rules for quarantine and entry to the UK which can impact your future recruitment and sponsorship processes.

Appointment availability: UKVCAS Appointments and Overseas VACs

UKVCAS and in-country appointments: Sopra Steria have reported sufficient availability for in-country applications as services resume. In-country applicants are still however encouraged to check the UKVCAS webpage for further updates on services and centre availability before booking an appointment as additional free and chargeable slots are added on a daily basis. Free appointments are released 28 days in advance each morning at 9 am.

Overseas Visa Application Centres (VACs) appointments: Applicants are advised to regularly monitor the Home Office commercial partner websites through the Find a visa application centre page for updated information on appointment and centre availability. Local restrictions (due to  the continued impact of Covid-19) are still impacting VAC services.

Prepare: Applicants must monitor any changes as certain VACs may be required to terminate services at short notice without direct communication.

Late applications for EUSS

The application deadline for EU nationals and most family members under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) has now passed. However, as a reminder, eligible EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, and their family members can still make a late application to the EUSS to obtain valid UK immigration status if they have reasonable grounds for missing the deadline. Information has been released to support those eligible with making a late application. The Home Office has confirmed it will take a flexible and pragmatic approach to accepting late applications and will look for reasons to grant applications, not to refuse them.

Update: We are aware that the Home Office are facing some delays with validating EUSS applications at present due to a high volume in cases on a daily basis.

 

EUSS - Information for applicants: The Home Office has issued guidance for EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and their family members, living in the UK, who have secured status under EUSS, or are waiting to hear the outcome of an application made before 30 June 2021.

A separate factsheet has also been issued to provide information for late applicants.

COVID-19 Checks: temporary adjustments to right to work (RTW) checks update

The Home Office have released updated Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks guidance extending the end date to the temporary adjustments on right to work checking processes until 5 April 2022 (from 31 August 2021).

This deferral has been approved following positive feedback about the ability to conduct checks remotely. The Home Office are intending to introduce a new digital solution to enable employers to continue remote checks in the future but with enhanced security.

Institutions will not be expected to revert to face-to-face and physical document checks until 6 April 2022.

Reminder: Retrospective checks - You do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted right to work check between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022 (inclusive). This reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports business during this difficult time.

Changes to Right to Work Checks

As you will recall, on 1 July 2021, the Home Office issued new guidance (Right to work checks: an employer's guide) confirming the new requirements on how to conduct a right to work check in a manner which will ensure you attract a statutory excuse. The guidance includes detail on acceptable documents for evidencing right to work checks for applicants with outstanding decisions and makes it clear that employers can no longer accept EU passports or ID cards as valid right to work evidence (see above guidance note for further details).

Note: The above employer guidance was updated again on 31 August 2021 to include changes to the way those with outstanding applications to the EUSS evidence their right to work and to make changes to the lists of acceptable documents. Therefore, please see the above guidance to note the updated version of List A and List B. The Home Office’s Right to Work Checklist document is yet to be updated to reflect these changes.

Biometrics Enrolment at the Post Office

The Home Office in-country application process for enrolling biometrics has changed from 31 July 2021, whereby applicants will no longer be directed to enrol biometrics at a Post Office as part of their immigration application process. Those applying in the UK will now be asked to enrol biometrics at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point or a Service and Support Centre (SSC). These service points are accessible across the UK and offer a range of support services for all applicant needs. Post Offices will no longer be offering biometric enrollment services.

Travelling to the UK using EU, EEA and Swiss ID cards from 1 October 2021

The Home Office guidance on visiting the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen confirms that from 1 October 2021, passengers will not be able to enter the UK using an EU, EEA or Swiss ID card unless the holder has applied one of the exemptions apply. For example, you hold status under the EU Settlement Scheme, have a frontier worker permit or is an  S2 Healthcare Visitor etc.

Irish citizens can continue to enter and live in the UK.

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can travel to the UK for holidays or short trips without needing a visa. Upon arrival a valid passport will be required which should be valid for the full duration and time spent in the UK. These nationals can continue to use the automatic ePassport gates to pass through the border on arrival.

News and information

  • The UK’s points based immigration system - Information for EU, EEA and Swiss business travellers: The Home Office guidance sheet provides an overview for perspective business travellers on the relevant documents/possible visa requirements. It also covers the relevant processes ahead of travel and the activities they can and cannot do in the UK without a visa.
  • Identifying visa fraud: The Home Office have set up a page providing advice on protecting people from fraud, tricks and visa scams. 
  • New visa route: Scale Up : The UK government published an Innovation Strategy Policy Paper on 22 July 2021 which stated the intention to create a new visa route: ‘Scale-up’ visa

Alerts and resources

Bookmark: Brexit legal publication hub: resources and guides

Listen to our recent podcast addressing the changes to workforces following Brexit and Life after the EU Settlement Scheme: right to work checks. Our specialist team discussed the effects in line with the end of free movement, the impact for EEA citizens applying for roles in the UK and the changes to HR and employer process to ensure compliance with illegal working regulations.

Upcoming education training courses 

We have two webinars by our education immigration lawyers. The skilled worker route - what do you need to do and how do you remain compliant? 14 October 2021 The student route - what do you need hto know and how do you remain compliant? 24 November 2021.

Ensure you are subscribed to our training updates: Subscribe to receive training updates, briefings and event information

On the horizon: points to be thinking about

  • Identify EU national employees (and their dependants) who are eligible for status under the EU Settlement Scheme and offer assistance with making late applications and securing Pre-settled/Settled Status by applying under the Scheme.