Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 06 September 2021)

People stuck outside the UK

For people who were “unable to travel back to the UK due to coronavirus travel restrictions” up to that date, “a short break of up to 6 months in continuous residence will be overlooked and you will face no future adverse immigration consequences as a result”.

For those worried about breaking their period of continuous residence in the UK for the purposes of indefinite leave to remain, Appendix Continuous Residence now states that absences caused by “travel disruption due to… pandemic” will not count towards the 180-day maximum. There is also guidance for people with EU pre-settled status worried about losing the right to upgrade to full settled status (a form of indefinite leave to remain).

Those who already had indefinite leave to remain but have now been outside the UK so long that it has lapsed will have to apply for a returning residents visa and pay the usual fee, but have most of it refunded.

Immigration tribunal hearings

Emergency measures, including a shift to remote hearings where possible, have been extended to September 2021.

The Senior President of Tribunals first issued an emergency practice direction on 19 March 2020 which says:

Where it is reasonably practicable and in accordance with the overriding objective to hear the case remotely (that is in any way that is not face-to-face, but which complies with the definition of ‘hearing’ in the relevant Chamber’s procedure rules), it should be heard remotely.

The practice direction was originally due to expire in September 2020 but has since been extended twice, most recently to 18 September 2021.

Right to work checks

Checks on the immigration status of employees to see if they have the legal right to work in the UK can be carried out remotely under a concession in place since 30 March 2020 and due to end on 6 April 2022.

Normal checks for new workers were originally set to resume from 17 May 2021. The Home Office then changed its mind three times, pushing the date out to 21 June 2021, then 31 August 2021, and now 5 April 2022. 

Right to rent checks

Much the same rule applies for landlords checking the immigration status of new tenants, also ending on 5 April 2022.

No retrospective checks on existing tenants assessed under the Covid concession between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022 will be required after all.

Posted on Sep 06, 2021.

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