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Immigration monthly round-up: August 2022

Immigration monthly round-up: August 2022
  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law
  • Global mobility and immigration

24-08-2022

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 updates

Priority and Super Priority services for Study and Work routes reinstated

On 12 August 2022, the UKVI reinstated the Priority Visa (PV) and Super Priority Visa (SPV) services for new work visas (including global talent) and for student applications outside the UK.

Key points:

  • The Priority services will not be available for the following visa routes at this stage:

o Innovator;
o Start-up; and
o High Potential Individual.

  • Standard work visa applications outside the UK are taking around 4 weeks from the date of the biometrics appointment to be processed globally.
  • Priority Visa (PV) has also been reinstated for EU nationals applying through the Home Office’s ID App. Please kindly note that the Priority Visa (PV) through the ID App is only available for main applicants and not dependants.

Important: Applicants are reminded to check their chosen visa application centre for the Priority and/or Super Priority service availability.

Increase in the number of slots available for the Pre-licence priority service

On 01 August 2022, the Home Office have increased the number of slots available for Pre-licence priority service to 30 slots per working day (previously 5 slots per working day).

Important: Employers should bear in mind that slots are selected at 0900 each morning, therefore employers are encouraged to apply for the slot at 0900 promptly to increase the chance of securing a slot.

Police Registration Scheme abolished

On 05 August 2022, the Police Registration Scheme, which requires some migrants to register with the police has been abolished.

The Police Registration Scheme has been abolished as the scheme was outdated and is no longer fit for purpose given that the data that is normally provided by a migrant during their registration at the police is already provided to the Home Office by the applicant during the visa application stage and is available to the police on request via Immigration Enforcement.

Reminder: Migrants whose visa have been endorsed with the police registration condition are no longer required to register with the police or update their details with the police if they have already registered.

Home Office's latest report on illegal working civil penalities (01 October 2021 to December 2021)

On 01 August 2022, the Home Office published its reports on illegal working civil penalties between 01 October 2021 to 31 December 2021.

The latest report shows a steady increase in the number of penalties, number of illegal workers found, and value of penalties imposed which can only be attributed to a surge in the Home Office’s activity of carrying out visits since the pandemic slowed down last summer (summer 2021).

Important: Employers should regularly review their right to work process to ensure that their processes remain robust and fit for purpose.

Visa Processing Times

On 20 July 2022, the Home Office updated the guidance on the Visa decision waiting times: applications outside the UK highlighting that UKVI will continue to prioritise applications received under the Ukraine Family Scheme. All expedited services for new study, work, and family visa applications made outside of the UK remain temporarily suspended. At present the standard service is taking an average of 4 weeks to process work visa applications however further delays are expected. Student visa applications are taking on average 3 weeks to process.

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.

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.

Important: The processing time for out-of-country family visa applications (applications for settlement in the UK as the spouse, partner, or family member of someone who has a British citizenship or is settled in the UK) may take up to 24 weeks to process (previously 12 weeks).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents (Exceptional assurance)

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

Applicants within the UK are expected to take reasonable steps to leave the UK where possible to do so or regularise their stay. For those who intend to leave the UK as their visa or leave expires before 30 September 2022 (previously 30 June 2022), but have been unable to do so, can request additional time to stay in the UK. This is known as ‘exceptional assurance’.

Exceptional assurance can be requested by emailing cihassuranceteam@homeoffice.gov.uk. Details on submitting exceptional assurance applications can be found under the ‘If you’re in the UK’ section of the guidance. 

Reminder: Applicants who intend to stay in the UK should apply for the relevant permission to stay. Where eligible, applications can be made from within the UK where usually they may have only been submitted from the applicants home country. Terms of permissions remain the same until the application has been decided.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents (VAC concession)

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

The visa application centre (“VAC”) concession which permits individuals to attend a biometric enrolment appointment at a visa application centre in another country to submit their visa application and enrol their biometric information if the visa application centre in their location is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions have been removed (previously 30 June 2022).

Reminder: Applicants are reminded to keep regularly check the Home Office’s guidance in case of any changes.

Global Talent Visa - UKRI list of approved research organisation 

On 13 June 2022, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) endorsement list has been updated with additional Home Office approved organisations. Individuals can apply for a visa under the Global Talent visa where they work in academia or research and have been successful in obtaining a grant from an awarded organisation on the list of endorsed funders.

UK visa requirements: enter or transit the UK

UK Visas and Immigration have issued guidance to assist carriers check their passengers’ travel documents. It lists the countries and territories of citizens who need a visa for the UK. The guidance is useful for checking if a visa may be required to enter or transit the UK and also situations where transit may be permitted without a visa.

Temporary Work - International Agreement Visa

The Temporary Work – International Agreement visa route is available to those eligible to be contracted to work covered by international law or treaty whilst in the UK. This route replaced the Temporary Worker – International Agreement Worker visa (Tier 5).

This route permits applicants to stay in the UK for up to 2 years, or the time given on their certificate of sponsorship plus up to 28 days, whichever is shorter. Eligible individuals are likely to work for an overseas government or international organisations; or as a private servant in a diplomatic household; or as an employee in the household of someone who works for a ‘recognised international organisation’.

Individuals will be permitted to study and work in the UK under this visa route.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabian nationals: electronic visa wavier status

The Home Office has announced that from the 1 June 2022, nationals of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain can apply to travel to the UK for tourism, business, study or medical treatment for up to 6 months with an electronic visa waiver (“EVW”).

An electronic visa waiver allows individuals to travel to the UK without obtaining a visa provided they complete an  online waiver before each visit. This process is streamlined as the individual is not required to provide biometric information, attending a visa application  centre appoint or submit their application before travelling to the UK.

The cost for an EVW is £30. Applications must be made between 3 months and 48 hours before intended travel.

Nationals of El Salvador, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are already eligible to visit the UK for up to 6 months under the EVW scheme.

SMS Guidance

The guidance for sponsors on Managing your sponsor licence: SMS guide 2 has been updated to include changes made to the rules and policy. The guidance supports sponsors with managing the sponsorship licence using the SMS.

Guidance Biometric Reuse Guidance

The Home Office has updated the guidance on biometric reuse.

The guidance sets out the requirements for the reuse of biometric data for immigration and citizenship purposes. It also lists the circumstances where the UKVI may consider reusing previously enrolled biometric information from individuals who make an application for leave or for British citizenship.

A key change outlines that the minimum applicant age for reusing biometric data has been lowered to 5 years old, allowing individuals from this age to use the UK Immigration: ID Check app. 

Removal of the No Time Limit application fee

The Home Office has removed the application fee for No Time Limit applications from 06 April 2022. This means that legacy immigration holders who have indefinite leave to enter (ILE) or indefinite leave to remain can upgrade to a secure modern document confirming their immigration status and rights in the UK (such as access to benefits) in the form of a biometric residence permit (BRP).

Further information can be found here.


Information and Guidance Sheets

  • Identifying visa fraud: The Home Office has set up a page providing advice on protecting  people from fraud, tricks and visa scams.
  • Refunds of application fees: New guidance has been released supporting caseworkers with understanding the Immigration and nationality refunds policy. The policy sets out guidance for issuing refunds of fees for immigration and nationality applications made either within or outside the UK.
  • British passport processing times: Her Majesty’s Passport Office 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.
  • Proving English language abilities: The Home Office has issued an updated list of testing centres both inside the UK and globally.
  • TB testing clinics – India: The guidance on where to get tested for tuberculosis (TB) in India for a UK visa application has been updated to include details of a Home Office approved medical centre in Mumbai.

Alerts, webinars and resources

Global employment and labor law update - We have recently issued our second edition of our quarterly Global Employment and Labor Law update for 2022.

This update includes reports on themes emerging globally around transparency, equality and fairness with updates on changes to significant laws around harassment, pay reporting and victimisation. Read our latest update on legal employment and labor law developments.

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

Take part in our End of COVID Adjusted RTW Check Employer Survey

Employers have been able to create a staturory excuse via the adjusted check process since the pandemic; the end of the validity of this adjusted process is 30 September 2022 requiring a return to physical check on documents or the use of the new Identification Document Validation Technology (“IDVT”) where an online check is not possible for the candidate in question.

The introduction of IDVT technology for this purpose, whilst welcome as an option for in person checks brings some complexity. The service is provided by Home Office certified providers only and must be purchased commercially (please see our briefing for further information). This requires budget and possibly new supplier onboarding processes which for many organisations is not straightforward especially when this process will, by definition, involve personal data.

Given the imminent end of the concession, we are interested to see whether employers feel ready for this change, and if so, what options are being taken to be able to create the statutory excuse for new employees from 1 October 2022. As such we invite you to complete a very short survey to let us know your thoughts and plans. 

Take the survey


Upcoming public courses

  • Commencing 12 September 2022, 14 September 2022, 20 September 2022, 22 September 2022 at 09:30 am to 11:30 am Immigration UK - Sponsor licencing modules

    This is a modular immigration training course which we will offer throughout 2022. In the first four modules, our team advises of the strategic and practical issues that HR professionals need to consider when sponsoring employees within the new immigration system.

    Experienced lawyers from our UK immigration team will conduct modules which explain how to operate a sponsor licence effectively. With use of law, policy guidance and insights from practice, they will help you get up-to-speed with the new requirements and advise about how to manage UK immigration effectively. This course will compromise four short virtual modules as follows:

    Module 1

    Monday 12 September 2022   

    09:30 am – 11:30 am

     

    How to exercise the functions of an Authorising Officer, Key Contact, Level 1 or Level 2 User. This module will cover:

    • what each does and the minimum requirements to exercise the role
    • what each needs to know and to read
    • the role of each at audit how to structure the allocation of roles in a pyramid system

    Module 2

    Wednesday 14 September 2022   

    09:30 am – 11:30 am

    Meeting the UK Visas and Immigration Sponsor Duties. This module includes:

    • what the sponsor duties are
    • issuing sponsor notes and SMS updates
    • how to seek further information and the role of advisers common practical challenges

    Module 3

    Tuesday 20 September 2022

    09:30 am – 11:30 am

     

    Introduction to the new Points Based System. This module will include consideration of:

    •  who qualifies?
    •  how to make an assessment
    •  navigating the Sponsor Management System
    •  next steps after issuing a Certificate
    •  common problems which arise

    Module 4

    Thursday 22 September 2022

    09:30 am – 11:30 am

     


    Managing the new Points Based System. A module which will include assessment of:

    • graduate programmee
    • GDPR and record keeping
    • lateral hires and redundancy
    • rectifying past non compliancy
    • the problems we see in practice around this

    • Commencing 11 October 2022 to 13 October 2022 at 09:30 am to 11:30 am Immigration UK - Right-to-work in 2022

      This course is led over two mornings by lawyers from our UK immigration team and is the second in a series of modular immigration training courses which we will offer throughout 2022. With use of law, policy guidance and insights from practice, we will help you get up-to-speed with the new requirements and advise about how to manage UK immigration effectively. This course will compromise two short virtual modules as follows:

      Module 1

      09:30 am – 11:30 am 

      Operating effective right-to-work checks

      Making the relevant checks: physical, on-line and virtual

         1) non-compliance
         2) GDPR
         3) Discrimination

      The situation of EEA employees and transition to on-line checks   

      Practical steps to addressing each issue

      Module 2

      09:30 am – 11:30 am

       

      Handling right-to-work problems

      • Managing the process through audit and inspection
      • The penalty regime and action to take on discovering non-compliance
      • Working with Immigration Enforcement
      • Common challenges and practical resolutions to these

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    Tip of the month

    Employers should reconsider their recruitment timelines when intending to sponsor employees from outside the UK. We would recommend HR allow 4 months to complete the sponsorship process before a start date is agreed with the individual. Ongoing global delays with visa applications, certification and TB testing are affecting sponsorship and recruitment processes: plan in advance.