United Kingdom – Covid-19 – Immigration update

To check the real time evolutions concerning international mobility all over of the world, discover the GoWork – COVID-19 Digital Card.

Update: May 27, 2020

Visas extended, measures implemented to ease immigration requirements

What is the change?

The government has announced visa extensions and other measures to ease immigration requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Leave shall be extended to July 31 2020 for those whose leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, and who are unable to return to their home country because of COVID-19 travel restrictions or quarantine. UKVI has set up up a link to an online form to assist with the visa-extension process. If you have already had your visa extended to 31 May 2020 your visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020.
  • The Home Office is temporarily expanding in-country switching provisions until 31 July 2020 for those wishing to apply for a visa to stay in the U.K. long term, e.g., from Tier 4 (Student) to Tier 2 (General Worker), while remaining in the U.K. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country (where your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020).

For more information and advice regarding immigration and the COVID-19 virus, visit the gov.uk website.

The visa extension policy is good news for employers and their foreign national employees, as it should lessen compliance concerns amid travel restrictions and quarantine measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Foreign nationals who avail themselves of the visa extension policy, however, are reminded that they must return to their home country as soon as possible once travel restrictions are lifted.

New rules introduced for those entering the UK

What is the change?

As of June 8, there will be new rules for residents and visitors entering the U.K.

Key Points

  • Those entering the U.K. must provide journey and contact details via an online form before traveling.
  • Those entering must self-isolate for 14 days after entering the U.K. except in very limited situations. Exceptions include the following :
    • Anyone moving from within the Common Travel Area, covering Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man;
    • Medical professionals who are travelling to help with the fight against coronavirus;
    • Seasonal Agricultural Workers who will self-isolate on the property where they are working;
    • Road haulage and freight workers, to ensure the supply of goods is not impacted;

Those traveling from June 8 onward must check the latest public health advice on the coronavirus before they travel and after entering the U.K. Travelers should also download the NHS contact tracing app from the same website once it is available. Travelers entering the U.K. who refuse to provide contact details may be fined £100; those who refuse to self-isolate in England and Wales may be fined £1,000.

Update: April 28, 2020

Offices closed, services suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic

What is the change?

The Home Office updated its guidance for visa applicants who are currently outside the UK and whose recently approved 30 day entry visas to work, study or join family in the UK have expired or is due to expire. The key points in the guidance are as follows:

  • If the 30 day visa to travel to the UK has expired or is due to expire, a replacement visa can be requested free of charge until the end of 2020. Note, you cannot travel on an expired vignette but will need to follow the steps outlined below.
  • Those affected are required to contact the Home Office’s Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre via email. Details must be provided of the visa applicant’s name, nationality, date of birth and the ‘GWF’ visa application reference number. The subject line of the email must be entitled ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’.
  • Affected applicants will be contacted once the visa centres reopen to allow the replacement 30 day visa to be endorsed in the passport.
  • Once the individuals arrive in the UK on the re-issued 30 day visa labels, they will be able to collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). The guidance confirms any such individuals will not be penalised for late collection of the BRPs while the coronavirus measures are in place.

Deloitte’s view

The new guidance is welcome as it provides a clear process for how to replace the expired 30 day visa label from outside the UK; thus removing any previous uncertainty.
Deloitte will provide additional updates as further information becomes available.

Update: March 31st, 2020

Offices closed, services suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic

What is the change?

The Home Office has announced that in-country immigration-related processes deemed “non-essential” are suspended owing to office closures.

Key Points

  • All Visa Application Centres in the UK are closed until further notice.
  • There will be no penalties for failure to attend a pre-booked online appointment or being unable to book an appointment. Those who booked an online appointment should receive an email canceling the appointment.
  • Although, applications under the EU Settlement Scheme can still be made online using the ‘EU Exit ID Document check app’, the postal route for submitting identity evidence is suspended. Documents by post can not be accepted at this time.
  • Visiting the Overseas Visitors Records Office (OVRO) to register under the Police Registration Scheme is suspended. Those returning to their home country before completing registration should not face any difficulties when re-entering the U.K.
  • Life in the UK test centers are closed until April 13. For those who have booked an appointment, these will be rescheduled automatically to a date after April 13.
  • English language test centers are temporarily closed with the earliest appointment available mid April, which could be subject to cancellation.

Last week, the government announced that it would be extending visas for those unable to return to their home country owing to COVID-19 related travel restrictions/quarantine. There is still 15 months before the deadline of 30 June 2021 for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme.

The suspension policy is good news for employers, as it will ease immigration requirements for affected foreign national employees and their dependents. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available.

United Kingdom – Right to work check requirements relaxed

What is the change?

The government has made temporary adjustments to ease requirements for right to work checks.

Key Points

  • Right to work checks can now officially be completed over video calls.
  • Job applicants and current workers can send scans or photographs of documents for right to work checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals.
  • Employers should use the Employer Checking Service for prospective or current employees who are unable to provide documents for the right to work check. If the employee has a right to work, the service will send the employer a Positive Verification Notice that will provide a statutory excuse valid for six months.
  • For employees/applicants with a current Biometric Residence Permit/Biometric Residence Card or EU Settlement Scheme status employers can use the online right to work checking service during a video call. Employees/applicants must give the employer permission to view their details.
  • Once the temporary measures are lifted, employers must conduct retroactive right to work checks for employees who either began working during the temporary measures or required a follow-up check within 8 weeks of the COVID-19 measures ending. The government will announce when this occurs.

Employers carrying out virtual right to work checks must have employees send a scan or photograph of their original documents and then have them hold up the original documents to the camera during a video call. Employers can check the gov.uk website for more information on right to work checks and employer obligations during COVID-19 measures.

The ability to carry out virtual right to work checks is good news for employers, as it will allow them to complete the process while adhering to social distancing and self-isolation requirements. Please reach out to your Deloitte contact should you have any questions. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available.

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Diane Artis

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