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Immigration monthly round-up: October 2022

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


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

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 ended on 30 September 2022.

From the 1 October 2022 employers must carry out one of the prescribed checks before employment commences as set out in the Right to work checks: an employer’s guide.

These checks are:

  1. a manual right to work check
  2. a right to work check using Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) through the services of an identity service provider (IDSP) (read further information on digital identity checks)
  3. a Home Office online right to work check

Conducting any of these checks in line with the Home Office’s right to work guidance will provide employers with a statutory excuse against a civil penalty.

If an applicant or existing worker cannot show their documents then employers must contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service.

Note: Since 06 April 2022, Biometric residence permit, Biometric residence card and Frontier Worker permit holders can only evidence their RTW status online.

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.

Changes to visa processing times outside the UK

The UKVI recently reinstated some of its expedited services, Priority Visa (PV) and Super Priority Visa (SPV) for new study and work (including global talent) applications made outside of the UK. There is a reduction in availability of these services however and this is subject to applicant jurisdiction and capacity at local centres. In some jurisdictions the suspension of these services may still be in place.

At present the standard service is taking an average of:

  • 3 weeks to process work visas;
  • 7 weeks to process visit visas;
  • 3 weeks to process study visas;
  • 7 weeks to process short-term study visas;
  • 24 weeks to process family visas;
  • 12 weeks to process British National (overseas) visas;
  • 3 weeks to replace biometric residence permits (BRP).

Further delays should however still be 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: Applicants are reminded to check their chosen visa application centre for the Priority and/or Super Priority service availability. Employers are advised to assess on-going applications and cases which may be impacted by the limited availability of premium services/temporary suspensions and manage working start and travel dates accordingly.

It is important to monitor the visa decision waiting times for applications outside of the UK as service availability can change at any time.

Note: Applicants are reminded that they cannot purchase premium / priority services retrospectively. 

New: Scale-up Worker visa 

On the 22 August 2022, the Government announced a new ‘Scale-up Worker visa’ route allowing high-growth businesses the opportunity to sponsor and attract the world’s top talent to the UK in support of their business growth strategies. The route has been introduced to offer sponsors greater flexibility recruiting talent and sponsoring when needed to boost their organisational growth whilst also contributing to the UK’s high-skilled pool of workers.

To qualify for Scale-up Worker sponsorship, eligible sponsors in the 3 year period immediately before they are approved by the Home Office to sponsor scale-up workers, must be fast-growing businesses who meet the following criteria:

  • have grown by 20% on average annually in either employment or turnover;
  • had at least 10 employees at the start of the 3 year period.

Eligible businesses will be able to attract highly skilled talent including sponsorship of:

  • scientists
  • engineers
  • programmers
  • software developers
  • research and development professionals
  • economists
  • architects
  • technicians
  • financial and investment advisers

For individuals, this route is highly attractive to the global work force as successful applicants will be granted entry clearance for 2 years and during that period are only required (at a minimum) to work in the sponsored role for at least the first 6 months of sponsorship. They can take on additional work during this period and leave the sponsor after the minimum term period has passed to work elsewhere (including taking roles with those who do not have a sponsor licence).  Similarly the salary threshold is higher at either £33,000 per year, the ‘going rate’ for the relevant occupation code or a minimum of £10.10 per hour (whichever is highest).

The Home Office issued Points-based system sponsor licensing: application guidance  note has been updated to include details and further guidance on sponsorship under the Scale-up route.

Immigration Statistics

The latest Immigration statistics have been published for the previous year ending June 2022. The data includes quarterly and annual statistics covering the global mobility movement. This includes data on those coming to the UK, extending their stay, gaining citizenship, applying for asylum, and being detained or removed, as well as immigration for work, study and family reasons, including new visa routes where these are operational.

The data this year shows a substantial increase in work, study and family visa applications in comparison to previous years. This suggests that the UK has been an attractable place for nationals globally.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents (If you’re working for the NHS: Health and Care Worker Visa)

The Home Office has updated its guidance for those currently working in the NHS. The guidance in relation to the concession allowing individuals to commence employment whilst awaiting a decision on their application expired on the 4 October 2022.

Further details can be found under the 'If you're working for the NHS' section of the 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. This applies to all data obtained where an applicant has made a new valid application for leave to enter or remain in the UK, entry clearance or registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.

A key change outlines the retention rules including a 15-year retention period to fingerprints enrolled from 1 July 2021 and whether this data can be reused. Fingerprints enrolled prior to this date will be retained for up to 10 years.

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 31 October 2022 (previously 30 September 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 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.

Global Talent Visa – UKRI list of approved research organisations 

On 26 August 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 and approved research organisations.  

EU Settlement Scheme: Updated guidance (evidence of residency and evidence of relationship) 

The Home Office has released updated EU Settlement Scheme guidance to assist applicants with providing evidence of their UK residence where this cannot be confirmed through the automated checking process.

Similarly the guidance on evidencing relationship particularly that of a family member of an EEA or Swiss national or a person of Northern Ireland has been updated to provide further clarity on the requirements.

Global Business Mobility and Scale-up routes pre-licence priority service

The Home Office has updated its pre-licence priority service guidance to confirm that Global Business Mobility UK Expansion Worker, Service Supplier Worker and Secondment Worker and Scale-up Worker sponsor licence applications cannot be expedited through the pre-licence priority service.

This means that sponsor licence applications for the above-mentioned routes can take approximately 6-8 weeks to be processed.

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been commissioned to review the shortage occupation list

The MAC has been commissioned by Kevin Foster MP to review the shortage occupation list.

The review of the Shortage Occupation List which the Migration Advisory Committee is due to report on by the end of March 2023 is expected to be implemented in Autumn 2023. In the past, the review of the Shortage Occupation List (September 2020) resulted in a number of roles being added to the list of occupations that are eligible for the Skilled Worker route through the submissions provided by stakeholders. Therefore, this is an opportunity to consider whether or not you would like to make any representations regarding shortage occupations.

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.
  • 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.

The helpline contact phone number has changed. Non-British nationals and their family members in Afghanistan in need of assistance can call the helpline on: +44 300 790 6268 (or 0300 790 6268 in the UK). Opening hours: 9am to 5pm UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Alerts, webinars and resources

Global employment and labor law update  - We issued our third edition of our quarterly Global Employment and Labor Law update for 2022 earlier this year. This update includes reports on themes emerging globally around equality and fairness; work-life balance and family leave; and status, working arrangements and transparent conditions. Read our latest update on legal employment and labor law developments. 

Bookmark: Brexit legal publication hub: resources and guides

Upcoming public courses

30 November 2022 at 09:30 am to 12:30 am Future of work – how can you combat skills shortages?

This half-day virtual workshop is aimed at those with recruitment experience and responsibility for the talent of the future. This includes HR professionals, global mobility professionals, recruiters, in-house legal professionals and diversity and inclusion leads.

This workshop will involve specialist recruiters from leading UK employers together with a team of dedicated lawyers with experience in employment law, immigration and diversity and inclusion to explore skills shortage challenges and potential solutions.

We will focus on the following areas:

  • current skills shortages for UK employers and resulting operational challenges
  • retraining opportunities for the existing workforce given increased reliance on technology
  • employment strategies to address skills shortages
  • immigration options to support with skills shortages
  • engaging with the talent of the future
  • diversity and inclusion considerations when recruiting from a limited talent pool

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

Tip of the month

Employers should review their right to work processes to ensure that they are fit for purpose. More specifically, employers should check that they are no longer carrying out any COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks on or after 01 October 2022.