News

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...

Apr 06, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 07 April 2020)

Bail reporting suspended

The Home Office website now says that “reporting as a condition of immigration bail is temporarily paused”.

People out on immigration bail should have received a text message telling them not to report for now. Anyone worried about missing an appointment when reporting resume should “let us have an up to date telephone number then we will be able to maintain contact with them to update them on any developments”. This can be done by emailing the relevant reporting centre.

No recourse to public funds

Migrants whose visa stipulates that they can have “no recourse to pub...

Apr 05, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 06 April 2020)

Visa extensions and other concessions

If you are in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

To get this extension, those affected must fill in an online form by the following link: https://gov.smartwebportal.co.uk/homeoffice/public/webform.asp?id=199&id2=5C97E7

The blurb on the online form says that “we’ll respond to you within 5 working days”. Replies to successful extension requests are worded as follows:

Your l...

Apr 02, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 03 April 2020)

Visa extensions and other concessions

If you are in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring and you were not planning to stay in the UK.

Replies to successful extension requests are worded as follows:

Your leave has been extended under existing conditions until 31 May 2020. You will not be regarded as an oversta...

Apr 01, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 02 April 2020)

Immigration tribunal hearings

HM Courts and Tribunals Service is now issuing a daily operation update. The latest version usefully summarises the position with First-tier and Upper Tribunal immigration and asylum cases:

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 not call us unless your enquiry is urgent. Bail a...

Mar 31, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 01 April 2020)

UK visa application centres

Outside the UK

A second Home Office factsheet of 24 March notes that “many of the UK’s Visa Application Centres (VACs) are currently closed and we anticipate more closing”.

That includes all the visa application centres run by VFS Global on behalf of the Home Office. As of 1 April, the VFS website reports that “UK has stopped accepting visa applications globally”.

All other visa centres overseas are run by TLScontact. It does not appear to have a centralised list of closures, but applicants can check the situation in their country through the TLScontact website.

Op...