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Immigration round-up: April 2021

Immigration round-up: April 2021
  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law
  • Global mobility and immigration


Welcome to the second of our regular immigration round-ups, 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

COVID-19: Applying for a visa if your VAC is closed

The Home Office COVID-19 concessions allow individuals to apply for a visit visa from any UK VAC. All other UK visa applications should be made from the country the applicant is living in.  If the VAC is closed in that jurisdiction due to coronavirus restrictions, then the Home Office has extended the concession to 30 June 2021, so that applicants can apply online and select a VAC in another country worldwide to submit their applications and biometrics. Applicants should ensure they are permitted to travel to that country beforehand.

UKVCAS appointments

Sopra Steria have reported ongoing delays and limited availability for in-country visa application appointments. UKVCAS are operating on an ‘Essential Service’ at present so it is important that applicants know to expect longer processing times and fewer appointment slots in practice. The Home Office are working directly with UKVAS to source additional capacity and vary operating hours at different Service Points across the UK. Applicants are encouraged to check the UKVCAS webpage for further updates on services and centre availability.

The UK’s points-based immigration system: an introduction for EU citizens

The Home Office has produced information about the UK’s points-based immigration system for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. The guidance documents provide an overview of the EU Settlement Scheme and applying through the points-based system for both work and study in the UK with details and guidance on the various routes now available.

Rule Changes to Shortage Occupation List

The Home Office have made further changes to the Shortage Occupation List to include further roles in both health and education sectors. The List has been updated to include the following healthcare roles: Pharmacists; Health professionals not elsewhere classified; Physiotherapists; Nursing auxiliaries and Assistants. An update has also been made to secondary education teaching professional to now include all modern foreign language teachers. 

COVID-19 RTW Checks: temporary adjustments to right to work checks ending

The Home Office have released updated Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks guidance outlining that the temporary adjustments to these checks will be coming to an end. From 17 May 2021 you must either:

The temporary COVID-19 adjusted RTW check measures will continue to apply up until 16 May 2021.

Reminder: Retrospective checks

You do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 16 May 2021 (inclusive). This reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports business during this difficult time.

Please read our legal note which addresses how the announcement impacts employers and future Right to Work checking processes: Right to work checks: New requirements following COVID-19 lockdown.

COVID-19: Travel ban, quarantine requirements and red list: how this affects sponsored migrants and visa applicants?

Recap: All travellers entering the UK from outside the Common Travel Area (unless exempt) must quarantine upon arrival to the UK. Please see guidance if you are arriving in England and have not been in a ‘red list’ country in the last 10 days. The guidance has been updated to reflect the changes in national restrictions which clarifies length of quarantine periods and circumstances in which you are permitted to leave home during quarantine.  

Similar guidance can be found for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. For anyone eligible to enter the UK after travelling through or visiting a 'red-list travel ban’ country in the 10 days before arrival to the UK, there is now need to quarantine in a government-sanctioned hotel for 10 days upon arrival to the UK. It is important to monitor the changes to the red-list as new countries are added daily. Recent additions include: India,  Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and Philippines.

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.  

Reminder: to regularly check the changes to the UK 'red-list travel ban’ as countries are added/removed regularly which can impact your future recruitment and sponsorship processes.


Migration and Mobility Partnership with India

The Home Office announced an agreement with India on 4th May 2021 which outlines reciprocal changes to the immigration process in each country. Once implemented, this will include a new bespoke route for young professionals to work and live in the UK for up to 24 months (similar to the Youth Mobility Scheme) and a new Student Internship category which will permit 12 months’ employment with a suitable employer.

14,000 visa extensions for frontline health and care workers

The Home Office announced on 9 April 2021 that visas are to be extended for thousands of frontline health and care workers to benefit over 14,000 applicants.  Free one-year extensions will be automatically granted to eligible overseas health and care workers whose visas were due to expire before 1 October 2021. The extension should be automatic, but those affected and eligible can contact for further guidance.

Home Office inspection visits to resume

UKVI have confirmed the resumption of sponsor licence inspection visits following a recent message on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) stating that ‘as the UK Government has started to ease restrictions, we will shortly be resuming compliance visit activity’.

With the easing of lockdown restrictions it is also expected that the Home Office will increase its investigations and prosecution activity in the prevention of illegal working space. See the changes to COVID-19 RTW Checks

Reminder: Ensure you are continuing to comply with your obligations and that you are prepared to meet your sponsor duties. See Gov.UK guidance on your responsibilities for employment and student sponsorship duties.

Alerts, webinars and resources

Read our latest Employment and Labor Law April 2021 Digest. This month’s spotlight focuses include returning to work; vaccinations; changes to right-to-work checking requirements.

Bookmark: Brexit legal publication hub: resources and guides

Upcoming public courses

Right-to-Work in 2021 - helping you manage UK immigration: Training course aimed at those who have responsibility for immigration issues providing guidance to HR, global mobility and legal professionals overseeing and implementing right-to-work checking processes or for those who intend to do so in the future. This course is comprised of the following two modules:

1) Module 1: Operating effective right-to-work checks.

2) Module 2: Handling right-to-work problems.

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

For Immigration updates select: Preferences > Service lines > Employment & Labor Law > Immigration and Global Mobility, and select United Kingdom under Jurisdictions of interest.

On the horizon: points to be thinking about