Dec 18, 2020 - How do Covid-related absences from the UK affect EU settled status?

On 15 December 2020 the Home Office published a short guidance document covering absences from the UK connected to COVID-19. It applies to EEA citizens and their family members who have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or those who are eligible but haven’t applied yet.

The guidance is important because many EU citizens have been forced to leave the UK for an extended period in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This doesn’t really matter to anyone who has settled status (or qualifies for it): as they have already completed their five-year “continuous qualifying per...

Dec 18, 2020 - Court of Appeal bombshell: EU citizens with pre-settled status can claim benefits

The Court of Appeal has handed down a ruling that should, if not successfully appealed, make it easier for millions of EU citizens with pre-settled status to claim benefits. The case is Fratila and Tanase v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2020] EWCA Civ 1741.

Ms Fratila and Mr Tanase argued that this was unlawful discrimination against them on the ground of nationality, contrary to EU law. In their favour was a line of decisions from the Court of Justice of the European Union on discrimination in benefits laws, including C-181/19 Jobcenter Krefeld v JD. That case was handed down so r...

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 17, 2020 - Future of economy “unusually uncertain”, warns Bank of England

The future of the UK's economy is “unusually uncertain”, the Bank of England has said, as it held interest rates at record lows.

It said new coronavirus vaccines boded well for long-term growth, but that a recent jump in cases would drag on the recovery of the economy.

Uncertainty over the future UK-EU trading relationship also clouded the outlook, it added.

The central bank held rates 0.1% and left its stimulus programme unchanged.

At 0.3% in November, inflation remains a long way below the central bank's 2% target.

However, it said it was ready to accept inflation above 2% if a no-deal Brexi...

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 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 - 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 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 - 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...