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Immigration News - July 2021 update

 

Introduction

The last 12 months have been a period of significant change in the area of immigration. We appreciate that this has been quite challenging for employers and education providers alike and want to reassure you that we are available to support you in any way we can.

Now is the time to ensure you are familiar with the new system and we are happy to assist through bespoke training delivered on your premises or remotely via Microsoft Teams or Zoom. We also continue to help employers and education providers who did not previously require a sponsorship licence but who, following the changes will now need to apply for one. If you are in this position and need any assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

Working in the UK

Right to Work - guidance for employers (updated to reflect EUSS deadline ending)

The Home Office (UKVI) have updated their guidance for employers on right to work checks with changes to the acceptable document list. Amendments have also been made to the section on ‘Outstanding UK EU Settlement Scheme applications made up to and including 30 June 2021’ and ‘EEA citizens without lawful immigration status after 30 June’.

The updated guidance can be viewed here.

Veristat provides training on the latest guidance on right to work checks, so please do get in touch for further details and a quote, should you be interested. This training can be delivered on the client’s site or remote via Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checks-employers-guide

 

EU Settlement Scheme - Information for Employers

The Home Office (UKVI) have published updated information for employers on the EU Settlement Scheme now that the application deadline (30th June 2021) has passed.

The updated EU Settlement Scheme: employer toolkit can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/eu-settlement-scheme-employer-toolkit

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-introduction-for-employers

  

Fee arrangements for CESC nationals

The Home Office (UKVI) have published guidance explaining who is eligible for a reduction in certain fees under the Council of Europe’s Social Charter of 1961 (known as CESC). It includes information for work visa applicants and sponsors.

The guidance has been updated to add the Graduate route to the list of immigration routes eligible for the fee reduction.

You can view the updated guidance here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fee-arrangements-for-cesc-nationals

  

Studying in the UK

The new Graduate route opened on 1 July 202. This will enable international graduates to kick-start their careers in the UK after they have finished their studies at a UK university.

This visa will enable international graduates who have been awarded a degree at a UK university to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for at least 2 years.

Applicants will need to have completed the entirety of their course in the UK as a student, apart from permitted study abroad programmes or remote study due to COVID-19, for which specific concessions have been agreed.

Those applying under this route will not need to show funds or finances, and they will not need to demonstrate English language ability, as they would have already proved this by successfully completing their degree at a UK university.

Information  about the launch of the new Graduate route can be viewed here and additional information here.

The Home Office (UKVI) have also published guidance for their staff on considering applications under the new Graduate route, which can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/graduate-route-for-best-and-brightest-launches

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-graduate-route-information-for-international-students

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/graduate-caseworker-guidance

 

Updated temporary COVID-19 guidance for student sponsors, migrants and short-term students

The latest guidance for student sponsors, migrants and short-term students in relation to Covid-19 can be viewed here.  A number of amendments has been made to this guidance and the key changes are as follows:

  • Amendment made reflecting an extension to the concession permitting sponsors to provide tuition via distance learning for international students studying overseas.
  • Clarification added to confirm that sponsors are not required to withdraw sponsorship for existing students who are continuing their studies by distance or blended learning.
  • Clarification added to confirm that students who commence study overseas by distance learning before entering the UK to study, must undertake face-to-face study or blended learning once in the UK and cannot study entirely by distance learning.
  • A section has been added on Blended learning to confirm that study within the UK must include some face-to-face study from 27th September 2021 onwards. Clarification added to confirm that sponsors must provide at least two face-to-face contact points during every four week period.
  • Clarification added to confirm that from 27th September 2021, students studying below degree level must undertake at least 15 hours of study per week and that the study can be composed of face-to-face and remote learning.
  • A clarification has been added to confirm that sponsors must undertake academic engagement monitoring for students who are studying by blended learning within the UK.
  • Clarification added to highlight the distinction between distance learning overseas and blended learning within the UK.
  • Additional concession added to enable students who commence a one-year programme of studies by distance learning by Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022 to be eligible for the Graduate route.
  • Clarification added to confirm that students undertaking courses longer than 12 months will not have any distance learning counted against them for the period between 24 January 2020 and 6 April 2022 for eligibility to the Graduate route.

The updated guidance can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-student-sponsors-migrants-and-short-term-students

 

Sponsorship Transparency Data: Q1 2021 (Student routes)

The Home Office (UKVI) have published the latest sponsorship transparency data for Q1 of 2021. You can view the full data published here.

The key points in relation to the Student route of the Points-based systemare as follows:

  • As of Q1 2021, there were 1,120 registered Student sponsors.
  • During Q1 2021, new licence applications were received from: 19 Student sponsors, 9 (Student/Skilled Worker) sponsors, and 6 (Student/Skilled Worker/Temporary Worker) sponsors.
  • The average length of time taken to process a sponsor application was 40.11 days (significantly longer than the 27.41 days in Q1 2020).
  • 3% of registered Student sponsors had full sponsor status.
  • During Q1 of 2021, 7 Student sponsors were issued with an ‘Intention to Revoke’ notice but no Student sponsor licences were revoked.

You can view the full data that has been published here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sponsorship-transparency-data-q1-2021

  

Other Immigration News

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

The latest advice for visa applicants and temporary UK residents affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus can be viewed here

The key changes are as follows:

  • Updated information under the ‘If you’re applying to enter the UK or remain on the basis of family or private life’ section.
  • The Returning Resident visa refund request email has been updated to CovidRRR@fco.gov.uk.
  • Changes to the ‘If you’re outside the UK’ section and paragraphs under heading ‘If you’re outside the UK and your leave has expired before you are able to return’ has been removed to reflect the end of the concession on 19 July 2021.
  • The section relating to enrolment of biometrics at Post Office branches has been removed from the paragraph titled ‘Application and service centres in the UK’.

You can view the latest information/advice here. The full collection of guidance to applicants and sponsors for those affected by changes to UK immigration and borders due to coronavirus can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-immigration-and-borders

  

News Story: UK secures the rights of millions of EU citizens

The Home Office (UKVI) have confirmed that more than 6 million applications were made to the EU Settlement Scheme before the 30 June deadline. As of Friday 2 July, 6.02 million applications had been made and there had been 5.1 million grants of status. There will be indefinite scope for those with reasonable grounds for applying late, to do so. The full news story can be viewed here.

If somebody who may be eligible for the EUSS and has not made an application is encountered by Immigration Enforcement, they will be issued with a notice giving them a further opportunity, generally 28 days, to apply to the EUSS, and will be signposted to the support available to do so.

The Home Office (UKVI) have also updated their guidance for EUSS applicants in or outside the UK who have been affected by restrictions associated with coronavirus. The guidance has been updated to reflect the revised policy on coronavirus related absences under the EUSS. Content has also been added to show that the deadline for most people to apply under the EUSS was 30 June 2021, but eligible individuals may still be able to apply. You can view the updated guidance here.

Additional information has also been published about late applicants now that the EUSS deadline has passed. This information can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-secures-the-rights-of-millions-of-eu-citizens

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-eu-settlement-scheme-guidance-for-applicants

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-information-for-late-applicants

 

Applying for naturalisation as a British citizen (Form AN guidance updated)

The Home Office (UKVI) have updated their guidance (Form AN) for those applying for naturalisation as a British citizen.

Several changes have been made to the guidance, but in particular, the section on ‘European Union (EU), other European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and Swiss nationals has been updated. If an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen applies for naturalisation from 1 July 2021 onwards, they will no longer be able to apply on the basis of their permanent residence. They will instead need to show the Home Office (UKVI) that they were free from immigration time restrictions in a different way. They can show they are free from immigration time restrictions at the date of application if, for example, they:

  • Have ILR under the EUSS (They can show that they have been free from immigration time restrictions for 12 months before applying using a combination of current EUSS leave and permanent residence previously held under the EEA Regulations).
  • Have been granted indefinite leave to remain under the Immigration Rules on another basis.
  • Are entitled by virtue of diplomatic status to exemption from UK immigration control
  • Benefit as an Irish national

Furthermore, unless an applicant is married to or are the civil partner of a British citizen, they should normally have been free from immigration time restrictions for 12 months before applying for naturalisation. This means that the applicant may need to wait until they have been in the UK for 6 years before they can apply for naturalisation.

The updated Form AN guidance can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-an-guidance

 

Common Travel Area (updated Immigration Staff guidance)

The Home Office (UKVI) have published updated guidance for their staff on the common travel area (CTA) to reflect the ending of the grace period in the UK on 30 June 2021 and specific arrangements in place from 1 July 2021.

The updated guidance can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/common-travel-area

 

Nationality and Borders Bill

The Nationality and Borders Bill of 2021-22 was introduced to the House of Parliament on 6 July. You can read the Home Office news story about the bill here.

The 3 key objectives of the bill are as follows:

  1. To make the system fairer and more effective so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum.
  2. To deter illegal entry into the UK breaking the business model of criminal trafficking networks and saving lives.
  3. To remove from the UK those with no right to be here.

The factsheet on the Nationality and Borders Bill can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/landmark-borders-bill-to-enter-parliament

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-nationality-and-borders-bill-factsheet/nationality-and-borders-bill-factsheet

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/the-nationality-and-borders-bill

 

Using your UK Visas and Immigration account to prove your rights in the UK and keep your details up to date

The Home Office (UKVI) have published information on how individuals can use their UK Visas and Immigration account to prove their rights in the UK and keep their details up to date. 

This service allows applicants who have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme or applied for a visa and used the UK Immigration: ID Check app to:

  • View and prove their online immigration status (also known as an eVisa)
  • Keep their details up to date

Applicants who visited a Visa Application centre (VAC) or Service Support Centre (SSC) to prove their identity when applying for a visa will not be able to use this service.

The information can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-your-uk-visas-and-immigration-account

 

Right to Rent - Landlords' code of practice (updated guidance and code of practice)

The Home Office (UKVI) have updated current versions of their guidance for landlords, homeowners and letting agents affected by the introduction of right to rent immigration checks. They have also uploaded a new pdf version of the Code of Practice on right to rent and the civil penalty scheme for landlords and their agents. The updated Landlords’ Code of Practice can be viewed here.

The guidance on right to rent checks has also been updated to show the rules that apply from 1 July 2021 following the end of the grace period. The updated right to rent guidance can be viewed here.

The updated guidance on which documents are acceptable in relation to right to rent checks can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/landlords-guide-to-right-to-rent-checks

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-document-checks-a-user-guide

  

Biometric enrolment at Post Offices

From 31 July 2021, applicants will no longer be able to enrol their biometric information at a Post Office. New guidance will be published by the Home Office (UKVI) shortly. Further information on biometric information can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/biometric-information

 

British nationals (overseas) in Hong Kong

From 20 July 2021, British nationals (overseas) in Hong Kong can no longer enter the UK on ‘Leave Outside the Rules’, so if they want to come to the UK, they should apply for the BN(O) visa and wait for a decision before travelling. If they do not, then they might not be allowed to enter the UK.

Further information can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/british-nationals-overseas-in-hong-kong

 

Veristat Services

Training on the Skilled Worker or Student routes/Right to Work/Forgery

We provide comprehensive training on all aspects of immigration matters; the Student route, the Skilled Worker route, Right to Work and the identification of fraudulent documents.

We can also deliver a session simply focusing on the recent changes being brought about by the new points-based immigration system and how employers and education providers can be prepared going forwards.

The new routes have brought about significant changes for sponsors and our training outlines these changes and helps prepare employers and education providers for sponsoring employees and students under these routes.

All training can be provided in person on the client’s site or remotely via Microsoft teams/Zoom.

If you think your organisation would benefit from training in any of these areas, please contact us for a quote by emailing us at  enquiries@veristat.co.uk. If you would like to discuss the contents of our training packages or require a bespoke training package to be delivered, please contact us by telephone on 01344 624016 or email us as above.

 

Training on the new Hong Kong BN(O) visa

As stated above, we are now providing presentations on the new Hong Kong BN(O) visa to employers and education providers, which can either be presented to staff involved in the recruitment of students or workers, or alternatively to the students or workers themselves.

A session can be delivered either on the client’s site or remotely via Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

If you are interested in booking a session, please email us at enquiries@veristat.co.ukfor further information and a quote. 

 

Sponsor licence applications

With the introduction of the new immigration system, employers or education providers wishing to sponsor EEA/EU nationals or non-EEA nationals will need to apply for a Sponsorship licence.

We provide a comprehensive advice and support package to employers and education providers applying for a licence. This can include preparation for a Home Office (UKVI) visit and training on the new Skilled Worker or Student routes and the SMS system, as well as assistance with applying for Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) or Confirmation for Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and a step by step guide for completing the application itself.

Please email us at enquiries@veristat.co.uk or by telephone on 01344 624016 for further details and/or a quote for helping you with your application. 

 

Audits and Inspections

Veristat is hugely experienced in providing compliance audits across all immigration routes. We have worked with hundreds of employers, ranging from small family businesses to multi-nationals, high street retailers and professional sports/football clubs. In the education sector, we have worked with over 30 universities and a significant number of colleges and schools.

Our audit/inspection service is fully flexible and can be tailored to individual requirements. It is  based on sound practical experience of UKVI’s policies, culture and approach.

  • For employers, we offer on-site Skilled Worker or ICT compliance inspections (with staff aware or unaware to simulate an announced or unannounced UKVI visit). We also offer right to work compliance visits.
  • For education providers, our service ranges from a “lite” health-check to a comprehensive review of student route activities, assessing compliance with UKVI requirements and sharing best practice. We also offer targeted inspections covering specific issues, such as BCA, Skilled Worker compliance, policies, student unions, relationships with partner institutions, etc.

On completion, we provide a comprehensive, evidence-based report, together with an assessment of how compliant the business or institution is with UKVI’s requirements. We will support the introduction of change if required and offer a ‘spot check’ follow up service at a later date if beneficial to reassure management that recommendations have been implemented.

If you are interested in booking an audit/inspection, please call us on 01344 624016 or email us at enquiries@veristat.co.uk.

Please note we are also now offering remote audits and inspections- please contact us for more details.

 

File Inspection Days

If you’re unsure whether you require a full compliance audit or specific training but would like an independent check of your files to ensure they are fully compliant with Home Office requirements, we can provide a UKVI file compliance inspection of either your staff or student files.

Depending on the number of employees/students you have, we would either check all files or an agreed sample. After the inspection has taken place, we would provide a written report outlining any risks, feedback and recommendations.

For further information or a quote for our file inspection days, please call us on 01344 624016 or email us at enquiries@veristat.co.uk.

 

Advice/Support packages

These packages can either be on a fixed rate monthly retainer basis, which can include a number of services, such as: acting as your Level 1 user, issuing of CoS/CAS, immigration audit, etc.  Alternatively, you can purchase an annual package of either 5, 10, 15- or 20-hours advice/support per year at reduced rates.

If you are interested in discussing our retainer or hourly advice/support packages further, then please contact us on 01344 624016 or email us at enquiries@veristat.co.uk.

 

To download and print a pdf version of the monthly update, please click here.

 

 

If you or a colleague would like to receive this update by email every month, please click on the 'Receive our monthly immigration update' below.

 

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