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Education Immigration round-up: May 2022

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings

06-05-2022

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

Changes to visa processing times

On 12 March 2022, the Home Office temporarily suspended all expedited services for new study, work, and family visa applications made outside of the UK. At present the standard service is taking an average of 6-8 weeks to process visa applications however further delays are expected.   

There has been no suspension to expedited services available for applications made in-country (within the UK) however, as ever, processing times cannot be guaranteed.

Important: Employers and applicants are advised to assess on-going applications and cases which may be impacted by the temporary suspension and manage working start and travel dates. It is important to monitor the visa decision waiting times for applications outside of the UK as services can resume at any time.

COVID-19 RTW Checks: temporary adjustments to Right to Work (RTW) checks

The Home Office has released updated Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks guidance confirming the temporary adjustments to RTW checks will now end on 30 September 2022 (and not 05 April 2022 as previously mentioned). The adjustments will allow employers to continue conducting virtual checks, however, this is limited to those who are not within the scope of the online RTW checks.

The extension enables employers to use the Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) to carry out digital checks on British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport from 6 April 2022. Employers are encouraged to develop commercial relationships with identity service providers and make the necessary changes to pre-employment RTW checking processes. Employers can also put measures in place to enable face-to-face document checks if they do not wish to adopt the digital checking processes for British and Irish citizens with a valid passport.

Note: Biometric card holders can only now evidence their RTW status online. Individuals who hold biometric cards (BRP, BRC and FWC) must use the online RTW checking processes as of 06 April 2022 (see section Draft: Employer’s guide to right to work (RTW) checks for the updates on RTW checking).

Reminder: Retrospective checks

Employers are not required to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 30 September 2022 (inclusive). This reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports business during this difficult time.

Employer’s guide to right to work (RTW) checks 

The Home Office has released updated RTW employer's guidance which came into force on 06 April 2022. An overview of the updates as set out in the guidance include:

  • changes in the way Biometric Residence Card, Biometric Residence Permit (BRC/BRPs) and Frontier Worker Permit (FWPs) holders prove their RTW status
  • changes to the list of acceptable documents (Annex A)
    • the removal of current documents issued by the Home Office to a family member of an EEA or Swiss citizen, which indicated that the holder had permission to stay in the United Kingdom

    • amendments to List A and B, group 1 to remove Biometric Immigration Documents (Biometric Residence Permit) issued by the Home Office

    • amendments to List B, group 1 to remove frontier worker permits issued under regulation 8 of the Citizens’ Rights (Frontier Workers) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020

    • addition to List B, group 2 of a Certificate of Application (CoA) digital or non-digital confirming a valid application to the EUSS on or after 1 July 2021 together with a Positive Verification Notice (PVN) from the Employer Checking Service (ECS)

    • amendments to List B, group 2, document no 3 to include an application for leave to enter or remain under Appendix EU to the Isle of Man Immigration Rules and removal of reference to applications submitted on or before 30 June 2021

  • information on sponsored work and student categories (Annex C)
  • guidance to enable employers to use Identity Service Providers (IDSPs) to carry out digital identity verification as part of a RTW check (Annex D)
  • extension to the COVID-19 temporary adjusted RTW checks until 30 September 2022 (Annex E)

Travel to the UK - COVID-19 international travel rules (England)

The UK Government has taken a step to further relax the travel restrictions for those arriving in the UK. As of 18 March 2022, all remaining COVID-19 related travel restrictions  to enter the UK have been removed.

Travellers no longer need to complete a UK passenger locator form before they travel, take any COVID-19 tests or quarantine upon arrival in England. These travel rules now apply to those who are vaccinated or not and to those transiting through England.

The ‘red list’ will continue to remain in place however at present there are currently no countries or territories on it.

It is important to note that other countries may have rules about what travellers need to do to leave the country to travel to England and vice versa. These rules should be checked for whichever country passengers are travelling to and from.

Reminder: It is important to monitor and continue to check the UK’s international travel rules before travelling as entry to the UK may be impacted and could change in the near future. Changes may be implemented with little or no notice as COVID-19 infections fluctuate. Furthermore, specific guidance should be checked should you be travelling to WalesScotland or Northern Ireland to ensure you comply with the relevant requirements which apply in those jurisdictions.

Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules

The Home Office has released a Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules which has come into force from 29 March 2022.  The accompanying Explanatory Memorandum to the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules provides an overview of the changes.

Global Business Mobility route

The Home Office has updated its guidance for sponsors in respect of the new Global Business Mobility (GBM) route which replaces the previous Intra-Company Transfer Worker/Graduate visa routes from the 11 April 2022. As set out in the guidance, the new GBM visa routes and their equivalent predecessor routes are now categorised as follows:

New GBM route Equivalent predecessor route

New GBM route Equivalent predecessor route

Senior or Specialist Worker

Intra-Company Transfer

Graduate Trainee

Intra-Company Graduate Trainee

UK Expansions Worker

The ‘sole representative’ provisions of the Representative of an Overseas Business route

Service Supplier

The ‘contractual service supplier’ and ‘independent professional’ provisions of the Temporary Work – International Agreement route

Secondment Worker

No equivalent

 

Closure of the Tier 1 (Investor) route

The Home Office has closed the Tier 1 (Investor) visa route for all new applications with immediate effect over security concerns.

Those with existing leave in the route will still be able to extend their stay, including making an application for entry clearance outside the UK if they have held leave as a Tier 1 (Investor) migrant in the 12 month period preceding the date of application and apply for settlement.

Code of Practice for Employers: Summary

The government has issued a Code of Practice for Employers setting out guidance on avoiding unlawful discrimination whilst preventing illegal working. This version of the Code of Practice is due to apply to all employment commencing on or after 6 April 2022. It will also apply where a repeat check on an existing worker is required to be carried out on or after 6 April 2022 to retain a statutory excuse. All employers must adhere to the Code of Practice.

The Code of Practice addresses direct and indirect indiscrimination, harassment and victimisation, unlawful race discrimination in employment as well as fair practices to avoid discrimination when conducting right to work checking processes on all employees. The Code provides guidance on how to avoid discrimination and sets out what employers should and should not do to ensure fair recruitment processes.

In-country processing and replacement of Biometric Resident Permits (BRP) and Biometric Residence Cards (BRC)

UKVCAS rolled out the IDV app for some in-country visa applications to address the demand for appointments at present. Individuals in the UK who require replacement BRP or BRC cards are also being encouraged to apply through the IDV app in an aim to manage limited availability of appointments at present.

Some individuals will be identified by UKVI as having reusable biometrics so will be able to apply directly through the IDV app. Applications made for the following routes that have been submitted using Standard service will be covered by the IDV app unless the application has been submitted by Super Priority service in which case, the individual can book an appointment straightaway.

-      Nationality applications

-      SET-M applications

-      BRP and BRC replacement applications

The Home Office will assess who is eligible to use the IDV app and will aim to check whether an applicant’s biometrics are reusable within 7-10 working days from registration with UKVCAS.

Adult applicants may be eligible to reuse their biometrics if they submitted recent biometrics as part of a visa application no more than 5 years ago, and children may be eligible if submitted up to 2 years ago.

Those who are applying for replacement nationality or indefinite leave to remain as a partner or parent BRP’s/BRC’s will not be able to book appointments immediately after registering with UKVCAS however may be eligible to reuse biometrics at which point will be contacted with information on how to proceed with appointment booking.

UKVCAS has issued guidance for individuals using the IDV app, this includes:

FAQ document

Animated video

Note: It is possible that the Home Office will suspend the in-country expedited services and widen the scope of visa applications eligible for the IDV app as the shortage of appointments with UKVCAS continues. Prepare for delays with processing of applications.

COVID-19 Guidance: Student sponsors, migrants and short-term students

The Home Office temporary concessions guidance for student sponsors, students (and those sponsored under the Graduate route) and short-term Student migrants has been updated in line with the changes to the government position regarding Coronavirus in the UK. It is important to note the various changes related to the distance learning concession, in particular the extension of this concession to 30 June 2022 (previously 6 April 2022). Details of additional changes since the last publication of the guidance are set out on page 5 of the guide.   

The guidance also confirms that 'there is no intention for any further extension to any concession end dates stated in this guidance. Therefore where a concession is given an end date, sponsors and students will be expected to revert to non-concessionary policy after that date'.

Visa Application Fees: 6 April 2022

The UK visa application fees have increased as of 6 April 2022. The new fee table can be accessed here.

COVID-19 Guidance: advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

The Home Office temporary concessions guidance has been updated for visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus.

The guidance now reflects an extension of the concession allowing applications to be submitted from any visa application centre if the applicant’s local visa application centre is closed due to coronavirus restrictions. The concession has been extended to 30 June 2022 from 31 March 2022.

Note: Individuals are reminded to ensure that they are permitted to travel to the relevant country that they intend to apply from.

Global Business Mobility routes – open for business!

In line with the opening of the Global Business Mobility routes on Monday 11 April 2022, the Home Office has not only updated the SMS but has also issued new and updated sponsor, caseworker and applicant guidance documents

British passport processing time

HMPO has confirmed that British passport applications inside the UK are currently taking up to 10 weeks to be processed.

Individuals who need a passport to travel urgently for compassionate reasons (i.e. medical treatment, urgent government business, if a family member is seriously ill, etc.) can call the Passport Adviceline to try and expedite their passport application.

Updated Appendix D

Appendix D has been updated to reflect that:


Information and Guidance Sheets

  • New fee waivers for foreign and Commonwealth armed forces veterans: The Home Office has announced a waiver on visa fees for those who have served in the UK Armed Forces for a minimum period of 6 years or those who have been discharged due to an illness or injury attributable to their services in recognition of their incredible contribution.  This means that those wishing to settle in the UK will benefit from a waived fee of £2,389 for indefinite leave to remain
  • Report: Illegal working penalties: The Home Office has issued a quarterly report listing the civil penalties issued for illegal working for the period 1 July to 30 September 2021 for the following regions:

o   London and South East

o   North East, Yorkshire and Humberside

o   Midlands and East of England

o   North West

o   Scotland and Northern Ireland

o   Anonymous

  • We published an e-brief with our comments on the reports and our view on the factors attributing to a Home Office audit/inspection and how employers can protect themselves from illegal working by establishing an statutory excuse
  • Guidance: Life in the UK Test: The terms and conditions for booking and taking the Life in the UK test have been updated. The updates include further clarification on the ID document requirements and what is needed to take to the test

Alerts, webinars and resources

  • Right to Work webinar Following the major changes to the RTW checking processes, Principle Associates, Louisa Cole and Emily Hasted hosted a short 45 minute webinar covering the updates to the Home Offices’ guidance on RTW checks. The webinar covered developments in the changes to RTW checks from 6 April 2022, the extension of the adjusted RTW checking process and a refresher on conducting online RTW checks.

Catch up with our latest 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.

Bookmark: Brexit legal publication hub: resources and guides


Upcoming 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? on 2 November 2022 and The student route - what do you need to know and how do you remain compliant? on 19 May and 29 November 2022.

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