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Immigration News - February 2021 update

 

Introduction

We appreciate this continues to be an exceedingly difficult time for employers and education providers in light of the pandemic. Please feel free to contact us if you need any advice or support.

UKVI have now introduced their new sponsorship system based around the previous Points Based System and its principles but with several significant changes. Now is the time to familiarise yourself with the new system and we are happy to assist through training delivered on your premises or remotely via Microsoft teams or zoom. We also continue to help Employers or Education providers who previously did not require a sponsorship licence but who, following the changes will now need to apply for a licence - if you are in this position and need any assistance please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

New Immigration System

New immigration routes have opened up for applications to work, live and study in the UK.

The Home Office (UKVI) have published guidance to employers about the new UK points-based immigration system, which can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-points-based-immigration-system-employer-information

Information about the new points-based immigration system has also been published for EU students at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/

We are delivering comprehensive training to employers on the new Skilled Worker route, as well as education providers on the new Student and Child Student routes, so please email us at enquiries@veristat.co.ukif you would like further information and a quote for providing training. This training can either be delivered on-site, or in light of Covid-19, we can also deliver via Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who were not already living in the UK before 31stDec 2020 or do not have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement or any other Immigration category, will need to meet specific requirements in order to study or work in the UK. They will also be subject to relevant checks, including UK criminality checks. They can continue to visit the UK for up to 6 months without applying for a visa and may participate in a wide range of activities, including tourism, visiting family and friends, short term study and business-related activities, such as events and conferences. The Home Office (UKVI) have also published information about the UK’s points-based immigration system for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020, which can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-information-for-eu-citizens

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-points-based-immigration-system-employer-information/

 

Working in the UK

Coronavirus (Covid-19): sponsoring pre-registration nurses or midwives

The Home Office (UKVI) have confirmed that the deadline for pre-registration nurses and midwives on the NMC’s temporary register to sit the Occupational Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been extended to 30 September 2021. If they do not pass the OSCE on the first attempt, they will have until 31 December 2021 to pass the exam.

This means that sponsors do not need to stop sponsoring pre-registration nurses and midwives if they have not sat their first attempt at the OSCE within 3 months and achieved full registration within 8 months.

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

 

PAYE references

From 1 December 2020, sponsors are required to provide their PAYE reference number when assigning a Skilled Worker or Intra-Company Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).

To do this, the sponsor must first add the PAYE reference number(s) using the new ‘PAYE Reference’ function in the SMS. Once the PAYE reference number has been added you will be able to select the reference number when assigning the CoS.

If the worker is not paid through PAYE, you do not need to use this function but you will need to explain why the worker will be paid differently on the CoS.

 

Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) - process guidance updated by UKVI

The Home Office (UKVI) have updated the guidance for their staff about how to process all transactions relating to the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC). Amendments have been made in relation to who is exempt from paying the ISC, priority visa details and the ISC refund process.

The updated guidance can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-skills-charge-process-guidance

 

Innovator/Start-up routes - updated guidance

The Home Office (UKVI) have published updated guidance for their staff on how decisions are made about applications from Innovators and entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time under the Start-up route.

The Innovator guidance has been restructured to reflect the changes made to the Immigration Rules and reflects both route specific changes such as the introduction of points and wider changes such as the extension of routes that are permitted to switch into this route. The updated Innovator caseworker guidance can be viewed here.

The Start-up guidance has been amended to update links on page 10 to ‘Validation, variation and withdrawal of applications’. The updated Start-up caseworker guidance can be viewed here.

The list of endorsing bodies for the Innovator and Start-up routes have also been updated and can be viewed at the following links:

Endorsing bodies: Innovator visa - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/endorsing-bodies-innovator

Endorsing bodies: Start-up visa - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/endorsing-bodies-start-up

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/innovator-appendix-w-workers

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/start-up-appendix-w-workers

 

Global Talent visa - updated guidance

The Home Office (UKVI) have updated the guidance for their caseworkers on how they consider applications made for a Global Talent visa. 

The key changes are as follows:

  • Simplified the guidance about completion of the Stage 2 application form in Key Facts
  • Updated Isle of Man guidance
  • Redirected hyperlinks to appropriate government guidance and removed broken links

The updated guidance can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/global-talent-appendix-w-workers

 

Offshore wind workers

The Home Office (UKVI) have published updated guidance explaining the terms of the concession for foreign nationals who are joining vessels engaged in the construction and maintenance of offshore wind projects in UK territorial waters. The updated guidance can be viewed here.

The concession, which was first introduced in 2017, is time limited and leave to enter under the terms of the concession will not be granted beyond 1 July 2021.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/offshore-wind-workers-immigration-rules-concession-2017

  

T2 (Worker) and T5 (Temporary Worker) sports governing bodies

The Home Office (UKVI) have published updated details and contacts for all T2 (Worker) and T5 (Temporary Worker) sports governing bodies.

The updated list of approved T2 and T5 sports governing bodies can be viewed here.

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

  

Studying in the UK

New UK points-based system - EU students

The UK government has published information to EU students about the new UK points-based immigration system, which can be viewed here.

This provides useful information to relevant EU students on applying for a visa under the Student route and guidance about working whilst studying in the UK.

Please note that EU nationals who were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, do not need to apply for a visa under the points-based immigration system. They and their family should instead apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). Applications for the EUSS are free and the deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Student sponsors

The latest advice for Student sponsors in the UK who are sponsoring those affected by coronavirus (Covid-19) can be viewed here.

This provides up-to-date guidance to Student sponsors in relation to student absences, distance learning, students who have been issued with a CAS but not yet applied for a visa, and students who are awaiting a decision on their visa application.

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

 

Sponsorship Management System

Using Google Chrome to access the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)

There is an issue which is affecting some users from accessing the SMS via the Google Chrome web browser. When completing actions on the SMS, users may receive a warning message stating that the site is not secure. The issue has not been reported with other web browsers. The Home Office (UKVI) has confirmed that all its sites are fully secure in line with the appropriate regulations and that they are trying to resolve this issue.

  

Other Immigration News

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

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

The exceptional assurance visa expiry dates have been updated to 1 January 2021 and 28 February 2021. The section under ‘if you intent to stay in the UK’ section has also been updated.

The concessions to the family and private life have also been extended until 31 May 2021.

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

  

Covid Visa Concession Scheme (CVCS)

The Home Office (UKVI) have published guidance for their staff for considering cases where leave expires while the holder is overseas and unable to return to the UK due to coronavirus (Covid-19). This scheme applies to migrants who left the UK before 17 March 2020 when FCO travel guidance changed and who had, or are seeking to apply for, leave on an eligible route.

As a result of Covid-19 global travel restrictions, some migrants who had leave to enter or remain in the UK have been unable to return to the UK to make an application for leave to remain (LTR) or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) before their current visa/leave expires.

If they are a visa national, as they no longer have valid leave, they may not be able to return to the UK due to the carriers’ liability regime. The government’s position is that those affected by Covid-19 travel restrictions should not be penalised for circumstances beyond their control.

Those who are eligible for this concession will be allowed to travel back to the UK to make an LTR or ILR application. However, it is important to note that the CVCS is not a guarantee that any application for LTR or ILR will be successful, nor is it a guarantee that permission to enter the UK will be granted on arrival.

All those affected will be told to complete a SMART form on the GOV.UK website to commence the process. They will not be required to attend a Visa Application Centre overseas as they are not making an application for entry clearance.

Those who were in the UK as Visitors are not eligible for this concession.

The guidance on CVCS can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-covid-visa-concession-scheme-cvcs

   

British Overseas Territory or Commonwealth country visa

The Home Office (UKVI) have published guidance to applicants applying for a British Overseas Territory or Commonwealth country visa.

The guidance can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-british-overseas-territory-or-commonwealth-country-visa

 

EU Settlement Scheme

There is now less than 6 months to go before the EU Settlement Scheme’s application deadline of 30 June 2021, so European nationals living in the UK by 31 December 2020 are being urged to apply now to secure their rights in UK law.

Further information can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/people-urged-to-apply-to-the-eu-settlement-scheme

 

EU Settlement Scheme caseworker guidance

The Home Office (UKVI) have published updated guidance for their staff on considering applications under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

The guidance has been updated with amendments to appendix EU made in statement of changes in immigration rules: HC813, laid before parliament on 22 October 2020.

The updated guidance can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-caseworker-guidance

 

3C and 3D leave

The Home Office (UKVI) have published updated guidance for their staff on how to prevent an individual from becoming an overstayer while they are awaiting or appealing a decision.

The guidance has been amended to reflect the following caselaw:

  • where a decision is withdrawn, section 3C resurrects from the time the decision is withdrawn, and
  • where an out of time appeal or administrative review application is accepted, section 3C resurrects from the time the decision to admit the out of time appeal or administrative review is made

The updated guidance can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/3c-and-3d-leave

 

Approved English Language tests (SELT) - acceptable ID documents

The Home Office (UKVI) have updated the list of acceptable documents that applicants can use to verify their identity when taking an English Language test (SELT).

The updated information can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prove-your-english-language-abilities-with-a-secure-english-language-test-selt

 

Points-based system: evidential flexibility

The Home Office (UKVI) have published updated guidance for their staff on using evidential flexibility when considering applications. This has been updated to reflect the Immigration Rules made in October 2020.

The updated guidance can be viewed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/points-based-system-evidential-flexibility

 

Veristat Services

Training on the new Skilled Worker or Student routes

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.

 

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.

 

 

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