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Immigration round-up: July 2021

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

03-08-2021

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 updates

Home Office statement – ‘New plan for immigration: legal migration and border control'

The Home Office has published a strategy statement on legal migrant and border control along with a written statement in Parliament. The statement signposted changes that UKVI will be hoping to implement which included:

System Changes 

  • simplification of the Immigration Rules and application forms, the latter including Chip Checker to allow online uploads and no attendance at VAC. This has already been implemented for the new Graduate and BN(O) routes
  • all Border Force staff now have the ability, if required, to check whether an individual has applied for, or been granted status under the EUSS
  • a dashboard to help sponsors manage their sponsored workers and see feedback on their visa application
  • development of separate immigration routes for higher education and further education
  • review of sponsorship fees

Applications

  • a single, sponsored Global Business Mobility route for ICTs, contractual services, overseas business reps and a new provision for seconded workers pursuing a contract

Digitisation

  • improvement to the online immigration status service
  • removing physical documents from the process and streamlining the system to include removing the need for separate vignettes and Biometric Residence Permits
  • system-to-system services that will allow other government departments and public bodies to check immigration status information direct with the Home Office

New Graduate Route: Now live for applications

The new Immigration Graduate Route is now open for applications. It is for eligible international students holding a valid Tier 4 or Student visa who want to work following the successful completion of a relevant course of study (for example, undergraduate-level or Masters or PhD).

The Home Office has issued information for international students including eligibility, the application process and conditions under the route.

Key points of the Graduate Visa:

  • the Route will be available to all international students who have completed a relevant course. For example, degree at undergraduate level, Masters of PhD at a UK Higher Education Institution
  • students will need to have a valid Student or Tier 4 status at the time of application
  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree graduates will be granted a two-year Graduate visa. PhD graduates will be granted a three-year Graduate visa
  • time spent in the UK as a Graduate Visa holder will not lead to settlement on its own
  • no sponsorship from employers is needed in order to work or apply
  • application fee of £700 and Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year of leave
The Home Office has since also released the full Caseworker Guidance.

Late applications for EUSS

The application deadline for EU nationals and most family members under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) has now passed. However 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. 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.

Activation of Entry Clearance

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents guidance has been updated to include information for people whose Entry Clearance was not activated because of COVID-19 restrictions upon entry to the UK. The guidance stipulates that individuals whose Entry Clearance was not activated may apply to remain in the UK without having to return overseas or reapply. Individuals must follow the process detailed in the guidance in order to activate their status.

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 quarantine upon arrival to the UK. The government have released ‘Red, amber and green list rules for entering England’ which sets 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 to England and on arrival in England. 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 Wales, Scotland 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.

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.

Recent additions to the 'red list' now include: Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone. Forward planning should be factored into sponsorship of individuals from these jurisdictions.

Right to Work Checks: Updated checklist

The Home Office has issued new Right to work checks: an employer's guide confirming the new requirements for right to work checks which will ensure you attract a statutory excuse. The Right to Work Checklist has been updated in line with the legislation changes following the end of the Grace Period on 30 June 2021.

Note: There is no requirement for a retrospective check to be undertaken on EEA citizens who entered into employment up to and including 30 June 2021. You will maintain a continuous statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty if the initial checks were undertaken in line with the guidance that applied at the time you made the check. 

Digital status guidance: Evidencing immigration status for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens

The Home Office have issued a guide for those who have successfully applied to the EU Settlement Scheme or have applied for a UK visa (including permission to stay) to assist them with accessing their immigration information online in the form of an eVisa and/or generating a share code. The guide outlines how EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can use the View and Prove service to evidence their RTW in the UK.

BN(O) visa – ‘Leave Outside the Rules’

The Home Office has recently updated the guidance note for 'British nationals (overseas) in Hong Kong'. The concession which permitted individuals under the Hong Kong BN(O) visa route to apply for Leave Outside the Rules to enter the UK until 19 July 2021 has now ended.  It should be noted that BN(O) nationals must now apply for a BN(O) visa and wait for the decision before travelling to the UK.


Alerts, webinars and resources

Bookmark: Brexit legal publication hub: resources and guides

Read our recent publication on the ‘New guidance on the prevention of illegal working following the new draft Code of Practice for employers, 2021 on the prevention of illegal working and the updated guidance on conducting right to work checks: employers guide.


Upcoming public courses

Commencing 14/09/2021 – 22/09/2021: Immigration UK - Sponsor licencing modules: This course is a series of modular immigration training sessions which we will be offering thorough 2021/2022. It is designed to assist HR, global mobility and legal professionals with understanding fundamental changes to the Immigration system and the impact this may have on compliance duties: compromising of the following four modules:

 

  • Module 1: Operating effective right-to-work checks
  • Module 2: Meeting the UK Visas and Immigration Sponsor Duties
  • Module 3: Introduction to the new Points Based System
  • Module 4: Managing the new Points Based System

 

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

For Immigration updates select: Preferences à Service lines à Employment & Labor Law > Immigration and Global Mobility.


On the horizon: points to be thinking about

  • Review the Coronavirus (COVID-19): immigration and borders guidance regularly to monitor changes, concessions and delays to the UK immigration and borders for those affected due to ongoing restrictions.
  • Reminder that up until 31 August 2021, the COVID-19 right to work check temporary adjustments will continue to take effect. As per the current guidance, employers will now be expected to revert to face-to-face and physical document checks / online checks from the 1 September 2021. 
  • 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.
  • Prepare for the off-chance of a Home Office inspection visit following the resumption of sponsor licence compliancy activity reviews.  Ensure you are continuing to comply with your obligations and that you are prepared to meet your sponsor duties.

We would recommending conducting a review of your documentation and records for sponsorship in line with Appendix D; be mindful of current salary rates for all sponsored migrants in line with the SOC code and eligible role requirements. See Gov.UK guidance on your responsibilities for employment and student sponsorship duties.