Dec 17, 2020 - Government extends Furlough scheme to April

The Furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April 2021 with the government continuing to contribute 80% towards wages – giving businesses and employees across the UK certainty into the New Year, the Chancellor announced today.

Rishi Sunak also confirmed he would be extending the government-guaranteed Covid-19 business loan schemes until the end of March.

These changes come ahead of the Budget, which the Chancellor has confirmed will take place on 3 March 2021. This will deliver the next phase of the plan to tackle the virus and protect jobs, so the extensions to the business loan an...

Dec 17, 2020 - Next Budget set for March 2021

The UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed that the next Budget will be held on 3 March 2021.He said it would "set out the next phase of the plan to tackle the virus and protect jobs".

A budget had been expected to take place in Autumn, but this was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Sunak also announced that the Furlough scheme, which subsidises the wages of workers hit by the virus, will be extended from March to April 2021.

Governments usually use the Budget to outline the state of the country's finances and propose tax changes. The budget will come at a difficult time for the UK...

Dec 11, 2020 - What is an “Australia-style” Brexit trade deal?

Time for negotiations between the UK and the European Union (EU) to produce a trade agreement is fast running out - bringing the possibility of no deal back onto the agenda.

If there's no agreement by the end of the year, the UK would automatically fall back on the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The government refers to this no-deal outcome as an "Australia-style deal" (Australia trades with the EU largely on WTO rules).

On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "There is now a strong possibility that we will have a solution that is more like an Australian relationship with...

Dec 10, 2020 - Brexit: EU proposes contingency plans to prepare for possible “no-deal” scenario

The EU has published contingency plans in case of the possible collapse of Brexit trade talks with the UK.

The aim of these contingency measures is to ensure smooth UK-EU air and road travel, as well as allowing the possibility of fishing access to each other's waters for the period during which there is no agreement in place. If no agreement enters into application, they will end after a fixed period.

They come after talks between UK PM Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen aimed at ending a deadlock over the deal ended without agreement.

The UK is due to stop following EU trading r...

Dec 08, 2020 - Immigration and nationality fees unchanged for 2020/21

The list of fees for immigration and nationality applications was updated on 1 December 2020 to reflect the new or rebranded visa routes introduced on that date. The actual amounts are unchanged, though, and indeed application fees have mostly been frozen for the last two years. But there is a catch: the Immigration Health Surcharge, a separate tax on immigration, has increased sharply.

At the end of 2018, the health surcharge was £200 a year. A spouse applying for permission to remain in the UK would have paid £1,033 in processing fees for permission lasting two and a half years, plus £500 in...

Dec 08, 2020 - Major Upper Tribunal judgment on draft evaders and Ukraine

The Upper Tribunal has handed down a new country guidance decision on draft evaders from Ukraine, PK and OS (basic rules of human conduct) Ukraine CG [2020] UKUT 314 (IAC). The judgment contains important guidance on the relationship between the Refugee Convention and international humanitarian law (IHL), as well as on the present situation in Ukraine.

The issue in these appeals was whether refusing to serve in an army which has committed serious breaches of IHL is sufficient for refugee status.

Ukraine has a long-standing conscription system and made extensive use of conscripts in the first f...

Dec 08, 2020 - Brexit: Latest updates about the UK leaving the EU

The UK government has said talks with the EU on reaching a post-Brexit trade deal have reached a "critical stage".

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. If it feels like little has changed, that is because both sides agreed many things would stay the same for 11 months, to allow leaders time to agree a deal for life after Brexit.

Time runs out on 31 December, but things are far from settled. The two sides are still arguing about fishing rights and business competition rules.

The three main sticking points are:

  • The EU is worried the UK could give financial help to its own firm...

Dec 04, 2020 - How to apply for a Skilled Worker visa – explaining in simple words

EU citizens need visas too

With the end of EU free movement, the Skilled Worker route (like the rest of the Points Based Immigration System) is for EU citizens as well as non-EU citizens.

EU citizens who have arrived in the UK before 31 December 2020 can generally apply for a visa-free immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Getting settled or pre-settled status under this scheme is free, a sponsor isn’t needed and there are no restrictions on employment — no minimum salary levels etc. 

EU citizens who aren’t eligible for the Settlement Scheme have been able to submit an application...

Dec 03, 2020 - Brexit: UK-EU trade deal possible within days

Political editors report that talks between UK and EU negotiators have progressed to a point where a trade deal could be agreed within days. Some sources sagest that the process is likely to be concluded in the next few days, with an ambassador saying there is a hope the agreement could be finalised on Friday, while another diplomatic source said a deal at the end of the week is a possibility.

Despite this, there are concerns that any deal may not be turned into law before the transition period ends at the end of the month unless the process starts by the middle of next week. The deal will hav...

Dec 03, 2020 - London authorities refuse to cooperate in targeting of rough sleeping migrants

This week Immigration Rule changes targeting rough sleeping migrants came into force. The Home Office has confirmed that the new Rules will not be enforced until official guidance is published, but the changes have been met with defiance across the board. 

In particular, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has stated that it will not cooperate with the Home Office on this issue:

rather than supporting people to come off the streets, these new rules will punish rough sleepers simply for not having a home. Therefore, the GLA and its commissioned services will not collaborate with such draconian m...