Coronavirus and the UK immigration system as of 18 May 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 20 June 2021.
The process for conducting a right to work check during the pandemic is as follows:
- ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app
- arrange a video call with the worker – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents
- record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”
- If the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system you can use the online right to work checking service while doing a video call – the applicant must give you permission to view their details.
If the above is not possible, use the Home Office Employer Checking Service.
The policy originally said that once the emergency was over, employers would have to re-check people hired under the temporary procedure. The Home Office has since announced that this will no longer be required: “You do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 20 June 2021 (inclusive)”.
Normal checks for new workers were originally set to resume from 17 May 2021. The Home Office then changed its mind and pushed the date out to 21 June.
Right to rent checks
Much the same procedure applies for landlords checking the immigration status of new tenants, also ending on 20 June 2021:
- ask the tenant to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app.
- arrange a video call with the tenant – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents.
- record the date you made the check and mark it as “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.
- if the tenant has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system you can use the online right to rent service while doing a video call – the applicant must give you permission to view their details.
No retrospective checks on existing tenants assessed under the Covid concession between 30 March 2020 and 20 June 2021 will be required after all. Normal checks resume from 21 June (not 17 May as originally announced).
EU Settlement Scheme
The telephone helpline for EU settled status enquiries was closed for some time, and documents were not being accepted by post. But both services are now back up and running, according to a Home Office email bulletin of 22 May 2020:
We are pleased to confirm that Home Office support services and application routes have now all fully reopened in line with public health guidance. This includes the reopening of the postal route for submitting identity documents for applicants who are unable to use the EU Exit: ID Document Check app to verify their identity.
However, for those who prefer to scan their own ID document if unable to use the app, rather than posting it away, scanning service locations remain closed.
There are no plans to extend the application deadline beyond 30 June 2021. The Home Secretary said in April 2020 that “we see no reason to extend the deadline when there’s still over a year to apply”.
There was guidance for EU Settlement Scheme applicants affected by coronavirus, published on 15 December 2020. This has been withdrawn following a legal challenge and a revised version is due by 31 May 2021.
Posted on May 18, 2021.
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