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Immigration round-up: October 2021

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

07-10-2021

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

Fee arrangements for CESC nationals

The Home Office has initiated steps which may see the reduced fee arrangement for CESC nationals scrapped. There is currently an automatic £55 discount on application fees on a range of working visa applications for eligible nationals from CESC. This also includes fee savings in relation to Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by sponsors for citizens from countries who have signed the European Social Charter. The Home Office has however reported to withdraw this concession from February 2022 in line with an ongoing review of all visa fees.

Right to Work Checks – Temporary adjustments

Reminder: The COVID-19 right to work check temporary adjustments will continue to take effect until 5 April 2022 as per the current guidance, allowing employers to conduct virtual checks. Employers will not be expected to revert to face-to-face and physical document checks until 6 April 2022.

The Home Office has issued a Right to work checks: an employer’s guide to assist with conducting right to work checks both manually and remotely. Similarly, there is a Home Office demonstration video explaining how/why to conduct a right to work check before employment to avoid being liable for a civil penalty.

COVID-19: Changes to international travel rules

The Government guidance on international travel has been updated as of 4am on Monday 4 October 2021. The rules for international travel to England have changed from the current traffic light system to a single ‘red’ list of countries and a simplified travel measure guide for arrivals from the rest of the world. Travel from countries and territories not on the red list will be subject to traveller vaccination status. 

The update provides guidance dependant on the traveller’s vaccination status (i.e. single or double jab/no jab) to include steps before and after travel and periods of necessary quarantine. The guidance is separated to cover rules on:

 

  • travel from a red list country;
  • travel from a country not considered a red list country and the individual is fully vaccinated and
  • travel from a country not considered a red list country and the individual is not fully vaccinated or the vaccination programme where they were vaccinated is not recognised.

 

Reminder: It is important to monitor and regularly check the UK’s international travel rules as your travel to the UK might be impacted. Furthermore, specific guidance should be checked should you be travelling to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland to ensure you comply with the relevant requirements which apply in those jurisdictions.

Generic Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) letters - pilot scheme

The Home Office are currently trialling a pilot scheme for BRPs issued outside of the UK.

Out-of-country applicants usually receive an approval letter with their passport containing details on their visa expiry and the process for collection of their BRP card in the UK. Applicants under the scheme will no longer receive a personalised letter; instead UK Visas and Immigration will only issue a generic guidance letter which individuals are required to present to an Immigration Officer upon arrival to the UK. The letters do not include specific personal details or information on where the BRP can be collected from. Details will need to be obtained by the individual by logging into their online visa application form instead to confirm the location where their BRP can be collected from. 

The aim of the pilot is to make the decision process efficient by issuing generic approval letters. The Home Office are yet to issue guidance and confirmation on the results of this pilot but it is important applicants are aware that they will need to source the specific details relating to collecting of BRP following receipt of this letter.

Please note: The generic letters do not include validity or expiration details of the visa as per the previous approval letters. It is therefore essential that pre-employment Right to Work checks are conducted in a compliant manner to attract a statutory excuse and minimise any risk of illegal working. Employers are encouraged to use the Government’s online portal (view a job applicant's right to work details) to check an individual’s right to work status if they hold a valid Biometric Residence Permit in these circumstances.

Entry clearance amendments

If an applicant finds, after they have arrived in the UK, that their visa has been issued with an incorrect endorsement they can request to have it amended. This can be done directly, via their representative or their sponsor.

If an applicant finds, before they have arrived in the UK, that their visa has been issued with an incorrect endorsement they must contact their visa application centre immediately to correct it.

  • If the error is on a biometric residence permit (BRP) the applicant must report the problem online.
  • If the error relates to a vignette endorsement and is raised within 3 months of arrival in the UK the applicant should contact UKVI International Sheffield.

Further details on correcting an incorrect endorsement guidance can be found on GOV.UK.

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

As a reminder, 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 are able to enter and live in the UK and can continue to use a passport card to travel to 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 of their stay in the UK. These nationals can continue to use the automatic ePassport gates to pass through the border on arrival.

New Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules

The Home Office has published a lengthy new Statement of Changes to the Immigration rules. In addition to making amends to the current immigration rules/guidance where necessary, it introduces the International Sportsperson route and highlights changes to the Tier 5 Temporary Worker routes. Unless the Statement of Changes document states otherwise, the changes take effect for applications made on or after 6 October 2021.

Some of the changes and immigration sponsorship updates include:

  • a change to the immigration rules to make it clearer that individuals cannot leave the Common Travel Area once they have submitted their application as this will cause the pending application to be treated as withdrawn. The changes also confirm that travel while an application is pending will not be permitted where an application has been made using the Identity Verification app or UK ID checker app;
  • the rules for settlement will be amended to take account of a COVID-19 concession that allowed some applicants to start work before the grant of permission where their current conditions allowed that and the application had been supported by a valid Certificate of Sponsorship. Time spent in the UK in this way will now count towards the continuous qualifying period for settlement, where the application had been subsequently granted;
  • the Skilled Worker guidance will be amended to confirm that the £10.10 per hour salary requirement also applies to settlement applications;
  • in January 2022, the Youth Mobility Scheme will be expanded to include nationals or passport holders of Iceland and India. Iceland will be subject to an annual allocation of 1,000 places and India will be subject to 3,000 places with specific eligibility rules applying in respect of each country; and
  • changes to the business visitor route will provide clarity on the permitted activities employees of overseas manufacturers or suppliers can do whilst in the UK as a visitor.

The Government has also released a sponsorship ‘roadmap’ setting out a New Plan for Immigration improvements and proposals over the next few years. The roadmap includes a number of developments to systems and current processes to provide a simplified and more efficient service. The plans for the upcoming year include:

  • Simplification of the supporting evidence required to becoming a sponsor with a view to shortening the sponsorship process;
  • Introduction of a new support service for small sponsors;
  • Skilled Worker eligibility tool to enable prospective employers and workers to understand if a role is eligible for the Skilled Worker visa;
  • Pilot a salary checking system in conjunction with HMRC to verify salary payments;
  • Review of application and sponsorship fees;
  • Review of sponsor licence renewal platform and working to avoid ongoing delays with services (including priority).

Information & Guidance Sheets

  • The UK’s points based immigration system - Information for EU, EEA and Swiss business travellers: The Home Office’s 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.
  • 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 a 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. A separate factsheet has also been issued to provide information for late applicants.
  • Identifying visa fraud: The Home Office have set up a page providing advice on protecting people from fraud, tricks and visa scams. 


Alerts, webinars and resources

Bookmark: Brexit legal publication hub: resources and guides


Upcoming public courses

  • Commencing 09/11/2021 at 09:30 to 12:00 : Immigration UK - Business travellers: masterclass for HR practitioners:
    This course will address the possible issues of business travel post-Brexit and how the end of the transition period has changed this. The programme will consider obligations employers have to assess business travel with reference to the right-to-work requirements in the UK and the practical solutions for HR practitioners with assessing the steps that need to be implemented.

  • 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.