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Immigration News - May 2020 update

 

Introduction

We appreciate this is a very difficult time for employers and education providers in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Veristat Ltd is still operating as normal and please feel free to contact us if you need any advice or support, now or in future.

If you have any questions or concerns about your sponsored workers or students in light of the current situation, please do not hesitate to get in touch. During the lockdown period a number of organisations have been contacting us looking to apply for sponsorship licences in advance of the implementation of the new Immigration system in 2021, if you are an organisation that doesn’t have a licence but believe you will need one in the future, we would be happy to help you.

 

New Immigration System

New immigration routes will open from autumn 2020 for applications to work, live and study in the UK after 1 January 2021. The latest Home Office (UKVI) information on the new immigration system can be viewed here

We will be using this update to inform you of any key news or announcements about the new immigration system as they are published by the Home Office (UKVI). We will also be working very closely with our retainer clients to support them with the implementation of the new immigration system. If you would like details of our retainer advice/support services to employers and education providers, please email enquiries@veristat.co.ukor call us on 01344 624016.

We will also be delivering a training package for employers and education providers on the new points-based immigration system to be offered from Autumn 2020 onwards, provided either remotely via Microsoft Teams or on the client’s site. We anticipate this training will be in high demand, so if you would like to book a date now for a session later this year, please email us at enquiries@veristat.co.ukor call us on the number above. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-immigration-system-what-you-need-to-know

 

Working in the UK

Visa extensions for NHS and frontline health workers during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Frontline health workers, whose visas expire before 1 October 2020, may be eligible for a 1-year extension to their visa for free due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

To get this extension, the migrant must:

  • have a visa that’s due to expire before 1 October 2020; and
  • work for the NHS or an independent healthcare provider in an eligible profession

The migrant’s family members’ visas will also be extended to the same dates if their visa(s) also are due to expire before 1 October 2020. However, if the visa is due to expire after 1 October 2020, they will not get a free extension and the visa(s) will instead need to be extended in the normal way.

Further information can be viewed here.

The government have also agreed to waive the Immigration Health Surcharge for health workers, and plans are underway to establish a process for doing so.

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-frontline-health-worker-visa-extension

  

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for Tier 2 & 5 sponsors

The latest guidance for Tier 2 & 5 sponsors in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) can be viewed here.

The key points in relation to sponsored workers under Tier 2 & 5 of the Points Based System are as follows:

  • Enforcement action will not be taken against a sponsor who continues to sponsor employees despite absences due to coronavirus.
  • You do not need to report employee absences related to coronavirus. This can include absences due to illness, their need to isolate or inability to travel due to travel restrictions.
  • You do not need to withdraw sponsorship of an employee if because of coronavirus they are absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks.
  • If you have issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and the sponsored employee has not yet applied for their visa, they will still be able to apply for their visa but will not be able to book the appointment until the visa centres reopen. The work start date stated on the CoS may have changed, but UKVI will not automatically refuse such cases.
  • UKVI may accept a CoS if it becomes invalid because the employee was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. They will consider this on a case by case basis.
  • You do not need to notify UKVI if you’re sponsoring employees who are working from home due to coronavirus. However, other changes to their working arrangements must still be reported as usual.
  • You can allow employees to start work before their visa application has been decided if:
    • you have assigned them a CoS;
    • the employee submitted their application before their current visa expired; and
    • the role they are employed in is the same as the one on their CoS.
  • You can temporarily reduce the pay of your sponsored employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower. Any reductions must be part of a company-wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same. These reductions must be temporary, and the employee’s pay must return to at least previous level once these arrangements have ended.

Please note that these arrangements will apply until 31 May 2020, when they will be reviewed.

Further information can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-tier-2-4-and-5-sponsors

 

Changes to the Immigration Rules: Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

A statement of changes to the Immigration rules was presented to Parliament on 14 May 2020, which includes proposed changes to the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa category.

An amendment is being made that relates to the implementation of the April 2010 policy change that ended settlement for intra-company transferees. A transitional measure ensure that migrants sponsored as a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) migrant prior to 6 April 2010 could still qualify for indefinite leave to remain. As more than nine years has passed since the change in policy, all migrants eligible for this transitional arrangement have now either gained settlement or left the UK. Consequently, the transitional rules in relation to this visa category have been deleted.

You can view the full Statement of Changes and explanatory memorandum here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-changes-to-the-immigration-rules-cp-232-14-may-2020

 

Changes to the Immigration Rules: Start-up and Innovator visas

A statement of changes to the Immigration rules was presented to Parliament on 14 May 2020, which includes proposed changes to the Start-up and Innovator visa categories.

The key changes are as follows:

  • Changes are being made to make it clearer that, to be endorsed, applicants must be founders of their businesses and be relying on their own business plans.
  • An Innovator applicant’s business may already be trading, providing they were a founder.
  • Further information or evidence can be requested by the decision makers from the applicants or endorsing bodies if they have concerns that an endorsement has been issued inappropriately, and to refuse applications if not satisfied endorsement criteria has been met.
  • The “viability” criteria are being amended to also require that a business plan must be realistic and achievable based on the applicant’s available resources.
  • Applicants can change their business venture, providing their endorsing body is satisfied the new venture meets all of the criteria for endorsement. In this situation, the applicant does not need to obtain fresh endorsement or make a fresh application.
  • If an applicant changes their business venture, it will not prevent them from applying under the “Same business” criteria in their next Innovator application.

You can view the full Statement of Changes and explanatory memorandum here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-changes-to-the-immigration-rules-cp-232-14-may-2020

 

Changes to the Immigration Rules: Representative of an Overseas Business

A statement of changes to the Immigration rules was presented to Parliament on 14 May 2020, which includes proposed changes to the Representative of an Overseas Businessvisa category.

The following changes are being made:

  • An amendment is being made to prevent an overseas business sending a representative to facilitate their entry to the UK when there is no genuine intention for them to establish a branch or subsidiary in the UK.
  • Clarification is being added to reflect that overseas businesses must be active and trading and intend to maintain their principal place of business outside the UK

You can view the full Statement of Changes and explanatory memorandum here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-changes-to-the-immigration-rules-cp-232-14-may-2020

 

Changes to the Immigration Rules: Global Talent

A statement of changes to the Immigration rules was presented to Parliament on 14 May 2020, which includes proposed changes to the Global Talent visa category. 

The following changes are being made:

  • Applicants who already hold leave under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) who want to extend their stay must apply under the extension requirements for the Global Talent category, rather than obtaining a new endorsement from an Endorsing Body. Changes have been made to the Immigration Rules to clarify this.
  • The criteria for consideration by the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) allows some applicants to provide evidence of awards from the 10 years before the date of application. An erroneous requirement limiting evidence to being from the last five years has therefore been removed.
  • At the request of the endorsing bodies, letters of recommendation have been restricted to three sides of A4, excluding the credentials of the author, to prevent applicants providing lengthy letters.
  • A small number of technical changes applying to digital technology applicants have been made at the request of Tech Nation, including increasing the length of documents.

You can view the full Statement of Changes and explanatory memorandum here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-changes-to-the-immigration-rules-cp-232-14-may-2020

 

Tier 2 and 5 sponsors governing bodies

The Home Office (UKVI) have published an updated list of the contact details for the sports’ governing bodies which are included in Appendix M of the Immigration Rules in relation to applications under Tier 2 and 5 of the points-based system.

The updated list of Tier 2 and 5 sports governing bodies can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tier-2-and-5-sports-governing-bodies 

  

Studying in the UK

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for Tier 4 sponsors

The latest guidance for Tier 4 sponsors in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) can be viewed here.

The key points in relation to sponsored students under Tier 4 of the Points Based System are as follows:

  • Enforcement action will not be taken against sponsors who continue to sponsor students despite absences due to coronavirus.
  • You do not need to report student absences related to coronavirus.
  • You do not need to withdraw sponsorship if because of coronavirus a student is unable to attend for more than 60 days.
  • You can continue to sponsor existing Tier 4 students who are continuing their studies through distance learning, whether they are in the UK or another country.
  • If a student has permanently withdrawn from their studies or deferred their studies for reasons unrelated to coronavirus, you must report this as usual.
  • You do not need to withdraw sponsorship for new students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but are distance learning because they have been unable to travel to the UK.
  • New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but want to start a course by distance learning do not require sponsorship under Tier 4. This is because they do not need to travel to the UK.
  • You do not need to tell the Home Office (UKVI) when students have moved to distance learning.
  • If you have issued a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to a student, they will still be able to apply for a visa, but will not be able to book a biometric appointment until the visa centres reopen.
  • If the start date stated on the CAS changes before they have applied for their visa, they will not automatically be refused. For example, UKVI may accept a CAS if it becomes invalid because the student was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. UKVI will consider this on a case by case basis.
  • You may allow students to start their studies before their visa application has been decided if:
    • you are a Tier 4 sponsor (other than Tier 4 Legacy Sponsors);
    • you have assigned the student a CAS;
    • the student submitted their application before their current visa expired and has shown you evidence of this;
    • the course they start is the same as the one listed on their CAS; and
    • the student has a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required;
  • Your reporting responsibilities start from the date that you issue the CAS, not from the date that their application is granted.
  • If the student’s application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must terminate the student’s studies.

Please note that these arrangements will apply until 31 May 2020, when they will be reviewed.

Further information can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-tier-2-4-and-5-sponsors

 

Changes to the Immigration Rules: Appendix W (Sponsored students)

A statement of changes in immigration rules was presented to Parliament on 14 May 2020, which includes proposed changes to Appendix Wof theImmigration Rulesin respect to sponsored students.

A change has been made to the requirement for students sponsored for their studies in the UK by a government or international scholarship agency, to obtain written consent from the relevant organisation. The change ensures that the requirement applies to both entry clearance and leave to remain applications in any of the categories in Appendix W.

You can view the full Statement of Changes and explanatory memorandum here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-changes-to-the-immigration-rules-cp-232-14-may-2020

 

Short-term students

The Home Office (UKVI) have published the short-term student guidance with the latest list of accredited institutions that a short-term student must be accepted onto a course of study with has been updated.

The latest guidance on short-term students can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/short-term-students

 

 

Other Immigration News

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

The latest advice from the Home Office (UKVI) to UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) can be viewed here.

Migrants who are in the UK and their leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, will have their visa extended to 31 July 2020 if they cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). They must request an extension by updating your records with the CoronavirusImmigration Team (CIT) if your visa is expiring and you cannot leave the UK at present but are not planning to stay in the UK in the long term by filling in the online form here.

Some UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) will reopen for existing customers (those who had an appointment booked which was postponed) on 1 June 2020. Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Sopra Steria will be sending an email explaining the next steps they need to take to rebook their appointment. Those who did not have an existing appointment prior to suspension of the service will be unable to book an appointment at this time. Further information can be viewed here.

For those applying for a UK visa from overseas, some UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are resuming services, where local restrictions allow. Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed. Contact your local VAC to find out the latest status. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted.

Some English Testing Centres are also resuming services. Please visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) website, the Pearson Test of English website or the Language Cert website or contact your test centre for more information.

It also provides information on the extension of visas for frontline health workers and their families.

If you have any questions not covered in the guidance, you can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline on 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or email CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.

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

https://www.ukvcas.co.uk/flash-message-detail?flashmessageId=74833

 

Inspection of Administrative Reviews, May to December 2019

The Home Office (UKVI) have published their response to an inspection on administrative reviews, May to December 2019.

The Home Office’s (UKVI’s) response can be viewed here. The initial inspection report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/response-to-an-inspection-on-administrative-reviews-may-to-december-2019

   

Changes to the Immigration Rules: EU Settlement Scheme

A statement of changes in immigration rules was presented to Parliament on 14 May 2020, which includes proposed changes to the EU Settlement Scheme.

The key changes are as follows:

  • Family members of the people of Northern Ireland are being brought within the scope of the EUSS (and of the EUSS family permit and travel permit) to be consistent with the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ published by the UK and Ireland on 9 January 2020 ahead of the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.
  • Any family member within the scope of the EUSS (a spouse, civil partner, durable partner, child, dependant parent or dependant relative) whose family relationship with a relevant EEA citizen (or with a qualifying British citizen) has broken down permanently as a result of domestic violence or abuse will have a continued right of residence where this is warranted by domestic violence or abuse against them or another family member.
  • Allowing for the continued right of residence in particular circumstances following the legal termination of the marriage or civil partnership of a relevant EEA citizen (or a qualifying British citizen).
  • To refer to scope for an EUSS application made on a paper application form to be submitted by e-mail rather than by post, where a Home Office e-mail address is specified on the form.
  • To clarify the circumstances in which a continuous qualifying period of residence on which an applicant relies for their eligibility for status under the EUSS does not have to be continuing at the date of application.

You can view the full Statement of Changes and explanatory memorandum here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-changes-to-the-immigration-rules-cp-232-14-may-2020

 

Veristat Service

Sponsor licence applications

With the announcement of the new Immigration system to be implemented from 1 January 2021, employers wishing to sponsor non-EEA and EEA/EU nationals from this date may wish to apply now for a licence.

We provide a comprehensive advice and support package to employers applying for a licence, including preparation for a Home Office (UKVI) visit and can also include training on Tier 2/5 or Tier 4 sponsorship and the SMS system, as well as assistance with applying for Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS).

Please email us at  enquiries@veristat.co.ukor contact us by telephone on 01344 624016 for further details and a quote for helping you apply for a licence.

 

Training for employers and education providers

We provide bespoke training on all aspects of immigration matters, including Right to Work, Tier 2 sponsorship, Tier 4 sponsorship, and identification of fraudulent documents. We will also be providing training on the new immigration system detailing all future requirements.

These training sessions are conducted on the client’s premises for a standard half-day rate for up to 12 persons per session.

Also, in response to demand from clients, we are now providing live bespoke online training via Microsoft Teams/Zoom, etc.

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.

 

Audits and Inspections

Veristat is hugely experienced at providing compliance audits across all immigration tiers. We have worked with hundreds of employers, ranging from small family businesses to multi-nationals, high street retailers and professional sports clubs. In the education sector, we have also 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, and is based on sound practical experience of UKVI’s policies, culture and approach.

  • For employers, we offer on-site Tier 2 compliance inspections (with staff aware or unaware to simulate a surprise 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 Tier 4 activities, assessing compliance with UKVI requirements and sharing best practice. We also offer targeted inspections covering specific issues, such as BCA, Tier 2 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 required to reassure management that recommendations have been implemented.

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

 

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.

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