Apr 26, 2020 - Chancellor announces micro-loan scheme for small businesses worth up to £50k

Small businesses will benefit from a new fast-track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced today (Monday 27 April).

  • businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days
  • loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form

The government, which has been consulting extensively with business representatives about the design of the new scheme, will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pa...

Apr 22, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 23 April 2020)

NHS workers

As was announced previously, most people who need their leave extended must contact the coronavirus helpline to ask for the extension. Some NHS workers and their families, however, are to get a one-year extension automatically.

The Home Office announced that around 2,800 doctors, nurses and paramedics with leave due to expire by 1 October would get a free one-year extension. Family members are included and there are no fees involved.

The government website suggests that this concession is limited to NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics with a “work visa” only. Someone on a different ...

Apr 20, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 21 April 2020)

Switching inside the UK

The new Home Office guidance includes information on switching visas. It allows people to “apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May 2020. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country”.

From what we gather, this would be an in-country application rather than an application for entry clearance. The concession is limited to people whose visa is due to expire by 31 May 2020.


The Home Office released a separate guidance document about coronavirus and student visas on 20 April. It covers a n...

Apr 19, 2020 - Foreign nationals, including those on work visas, are eligible to be furloughed

The government’s furlough scheme went live today, 20 April 2020. Under what is officially known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the state will pay 80% of staff wage costs (up to £2,500 a month) so long as employers keep people on the books rather than making them outright redundant.

For avoidance of doubt, the scheme does cover migrant workers. HM Revenue and Customs guidance says:

Foreign nationals are eligible to be furloughed. Grants under the scheme are not counted as ‘access to public funds’, and you can furlough employees on all categories of visa.

Sponsors will still need to re...

Apr 16, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 17 April 2020)



The Home Office has decided to “pause face to face substantive asylum interviews for now”, according to correspondence from the Asylum Operations team. All interviews scheduled from 19 March onward are cancelled.

Some initial screening interviews are also being cancelled, according to Right to Remain, although the Law Centre NI reports that they are continuing in Northern Ireland.

Lunar House in Croydon remains open for people to register an asylum claim. This can’t be done remotely. Home Office is reportedly working on “regional processes” so that people don’t have to trave...

Apr 15, 2020 - No knowing how many Europeans will be left unlawfully resident by Brexit, experts warn

There is no way of telling how many EU citizens will be left living illegally in the UK because of Brexit, a new report has concluded.

The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford says that the government doesn’t collect or release the data needed to work out how many Europeans “fail to come forward” to get settled status by the June 2021 deadline.

The institute’s report, Not Settled Yet?, finds that the EU Settlement Scheme is a black box, with researchers unable to properly measure take-up or the general efficiency of the scheme.

Why does it matter?

The post-Brexit right to live in ...

Apr 14, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 15 April 2020)

Sponsor duties under Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 visa categories

There is now separate coronavirus guidance for organisations that sponsor overseas workers or students under Tiers 2, 4 and 5 of the Points Based System. It promises:

We will not take enforcement action against sponsors who continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences due to coronavirus.

Sponsors are not currently required to report any absences from students or employees sponsored under Tier 2, Tier 4, or Tier 5, where those absences have been the result of the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Finally, an i...

Apr 08, 2020 - Government: we don’t want “low-skilled” workers after the pandemic

What a moment for the Home Office to update its guidance on the new immigration system to reiterate:

There will not be an immigration route specifically for those who do not meet the skills or salary threshold for the skilled worker route.

Basically, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the Home Office felt it necessary to state that care workers, nurses, hospital porters, cleaners, logistics personnel, postal workers etc will not be able to apply for a UK work visa from January.

The only “low-skilled” workers that the government envisages letting in are agricultural labourers.

Apr 08, 2020 - Employers urged to apply now for licence to sponsor overseas workers once free movement ends

Under the new immigration system planned to kick in from January 2021, the minimum skill level needed to be sponsored for a general work visa will be reduced from RQF level 6 to RQF level 3. This means that jobs which are considered to be A-level standard can be sponsored, instead of the Bachelor’s degree qualifications which are required now.

Organisations that don’t use the sponsorship system at the moment but think they are likely to be recruiting overseas workers at this lower skill level next year can apply now for a sponsor licence. In an update to the sponsor guidance, the Home Office h...

Apr 08, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 09 April 2020)

Immigration tribunal hearings

HM Courts and Tribunals Service is now issuing a daily operational update. There are specific status reports for First-tier and Upper Tribunal immigration and asylum cases. They provide a useful summary of the state of play (as of 9 April):

The [First-tier] tribunal has suspended face to face hearings (other than in exceptional circumstances) until further notice. A notice containing instructions on the next steps in your case will be sent to you. We are working through the listed cases in priority and date order and you should wait until we contact you. Please do...