UK Immigration News & Updates

Coronavirus (COVID-19): immigration and borders

Home Office UKVI has published guidance for those affected by changes to UK immigration and borders due to coronavirus. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

High court rejects call to free 736 detainees at risk from coronavirus.

The high court has rejected calls to free hundreds of immigration detainees who, lawyers and human rights activists say, are at risk from Covid-19 while behind bars.

The ruling, following a hearing over Skype on Wednesday, was handed down in response to an urgent legal challenge from Detention Action.
The legal action asked for the release of hundreds of detainees who are particularly vulnerable to serious illness or death if they contract the virus because of particular health conditions, and also for the release of those from about 50 countries to which the Home Office is currently unable to remove people because of the pandemic. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

Home Office to hold on evicting asylum seekers during lockdown.

The Home Office will stop evicting asylum seekers from government accommodation for the next three months while the UK remains in coronavirus lockdown, the British Red Cross has said.

Home Office minister Chris Philp wrote to the charity on Friday to confirm that people would not be asked to leave their asylum accommodation once their claim or appeal had been decided. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

NHS frontline workers visas extended so they can focus on fighting coronavirus

Doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year.

As part of the national effort to combat coronavirus, doctors, nurses and paramedics will automatically have their visas extended, free of charge, for one year. The extension, announced today (31 March) by the Home Secretary Priti Patel, will apply to around 2,800 migrant doctors, nurses and paramedics, employed by the NHS whose visa is due to expire before 1 October.

The extension will also apply to their family members, demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff are to the UK. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

The UKVCAS service is currently suspended

The worldwide response to COVID-19 continues to affect the UK’s Visa and Immigration Service. As a result, the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS), led by Sopra Steria on behalf of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), has suspended all services to help protect the health and wellbeing of our customers and staff.

This will remain under review with UKVI as the situation evolves.

UKVI has now issued guidance that all foreign nationals whose permission to stay in the UK expired from 24th January 2020 may access a visa extension until 31st May 2020 therefore you will not be disadvantaged in any way due to the COVID-19 crisis. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

EU Settlement Scheme: application processing times

The Home Office UKVI has published following news regarding processing time of applications under the EU settlement scheme: 

"There will be delays in processing your application due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

We are not accepting documents by post.

If you’ve already started or submitted your application, please do not post any documents to us. If you post a document to us after 25 March 2020, there may be a delay in it being returned to you.

If you posted a document to us on or before 25 March 2020, we will return this to you as soon as possible. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

Visa decision waiting times: applications outside the UK

Due to the operational impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), most of the UK’s visa applications centres are currently closed. All visa decision waiting times will be delayed until further notice.

The ‘priority service’ and ‘super priority service’ are suspended for applications made outside the UK. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

Coronavirus: Deferral of requirement to report to immigration reporting centre

Following Public Health England’s advice on coronavirus (COVID-19), the Home Office has decided that reporting as a condition of immigration bail should be temporarily deferred while it reviews how frequently people should report. You will receive an SMS text message soon with details of your next reporting date. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

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

This is Home Office UKVI advice for visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.
You should provide:

  • your full name (include any middle names)
  • date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • nationality
  • your previous visa reference number
  • why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

We’ll let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.

If you’re applying to stay in the UK long-term

During these unique circumstances you’ll be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.

You’ll need to meet the same visa requirements and pay the UK application fee.

This includes those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020. You can apply online. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

UK Visas extended for those currently unable to return home due to COVID-19

Leave extended to 31 May for individuals who are currently unable to return home at the end of their visa. Visa nationals who cannot return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to extend their visa.

The extension, announced today (24 March) by the Home Secretary Priti Patel, will apply to anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation.This will last until 31 May but will be kept under regular review in case further extensions are needed.

A dedicated COVID-19 immigration team has been set up within UKVI to make the process as straightforward as possible. Anyone in this situation just needs to contact this team, via this email address, to let them know their visa has expired and they will be issued with an extension.

To help those who want to apply for visas to stay in the UK long-term, the Home Office is also temporarily expanding the in-country switching provisions.
This will mean people can apply to switch routes, such as from Tier 4 (student) to Tier 2 (General Worker), whilst remaining in the UK. UKVI will continue to process applications as quickly as possible, however some applications may take longer than usual due to COVID-19 related operational pressures. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

Coronavirus: EU Settlement Resolution Centre

The Settlement Resolution Centre telephone lines are currently closed in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The SRC is providing an automated message to state they will open the line again once they are able to do this safely.

Coronavirus: First Tier Tribunal Appeal Hearings Update

The President of the First Tier Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber (FTTIAC) has now directed that all immigration appeals will proceed by way of a  Case Management Hearing (CMR)  via telephone or Skype which will take place on a date to be notified  in a time slot to be allocated. All current scheduled hearings are vacated.

Home Office releases 300 from detention centres amid Covid-19 pandemic

The Home Office has released almost 300 people from detention centres in the last few days because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Guardian has learned.
The speed and scale of the release is unprecedented in recent years. Detainees and charities estimate that more than a quarter of those currently locked up have been set free.

The release comes in the wake of a legal action launched last week which argued that the Home Office had failed to protect immigration detainees from the coronavirus outbreak and failed to identify which detainees were at particular risk of serious harm or death if they do contract the virus due to their age or underlying health conditions. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

Home Secretary announces new UK points-based immigration system

Home Secretary Priti Patel will today (Wednesday 19 February) launch a new points-based immigration system which will open up the UK to the brightest and the best from around the world.

The new system, which takes effect from 1 January 2021, will end free movement, reassert control of our borders and restore public trust. It will assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions and visas will only be awarded to those who gain enough points. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

UK’s expensive visa fees 'could deter NHS staff and scientists'

The UK’s “sky-high” visa fees could deter vital NHS staff and the “brightest and best” scientists that Boris Johnson wants to attract with his new immigration policy, experts have warned.
Nurses, lab technicians, engineers and tech experts who currently flock to the UK from the EU may not be able to afford to do so if the prime minister’s proposed immigration overhaul becomes law. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

New immigration rules: where will UK find its drivers and pickers?

Business groups warned that major industries would face a shortage of vital workers after the government outlined its new points-based immigration system to limit the number of low-skilled workers coming to the UK. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

Landmark Immigration Bill to end free movement introduced to Parliament

The Immigration Bill has been introduced to the House of Commons today (Thursday 5 March) ending the European Union’s rules on free movement.

It represents an important milestone in paving the way for the new UK points-based immigration system. It will be introduced by the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster, and marks an historic moment in the country’s history, following the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 January 2020.

Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said:

Today we’ve taken the momentous first step to end free movement and take back control of our borders, delivering on the people’s priorities.

Our firmer and fairer points-based immigration system will attract the brightest and best from around the globe, prioritising those who come to Britain based on the skills they have to offer, not on the passport they hold. READ MORE FROM SOURCE

IHS Fee Increase

It was announced in March Budget that the immigration health surcharge (IHS) will increase from £400 per year to £624 per year for adults and £470 for children under the age of 18. The discounted rate for students, their dependants and those on the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme will increase from £300 to £470. This will take effect from October 2020.

Changes To The UK Immigration Rules

On 12 March 2020, the government has laid a new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules.The main changes relate to the EU settlement scheme (EUSS) which can be summarised as follows:

  • The EUSS has been extended to those who hold a relevant document issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 as an extended family member on the basis that they are a child under the age of 18 who is subject to a non-adoptive legal guardianship order in favour of an EEA citizen; they are the relative of the spouse or civil partner of an EEA citizen; or they are a child under the age of 18 of the durable partner of an EEA citizen (implementing the CJEU decision in SM (Algeria)).
  • The Rules have been clarified to confirm that the eligibility criteria for family members of British citizens (Surinder Singh cases) need to be satisfied before the end of transition period on 31 December 2020 and immediately before the British citizen and family member return to UK.  The Surinder Singh route also applies to extended family members of British citizens in line with SM (Algeria).
  • The Rules have also been amended to bring within scope those non-EEA nationals issued with a residence document under transitional provisions in the 2016 Regulations as the family member of a British citizen with dual UK/EEA nationality following the decision in McCarthy.
  • Durable partners and dependent relatives applying to the EUSS may rely on expired documents issued under the EEA Regulations 2016 but only where they had applied for a further residence document under the 2016 Regulations based on the same family relationship and that further document was issued after the first had expired.
  • Where an individual has an application for a residence document under the 2016 Regulations outstanding at the end of the transition period, that individual can rely on that document (if issued to them) in applying to the EUSS.
  • Applications can now be refused where an individual has been or would be excluded from refugee or humanitarian protection, or Article 33(2) of the Refugee Convention applies or would do so, as they are a danger to the security of the UK, or applies as, having been convicted of a particularly serious crime, they are a danger to the community.
  • Leave to enter granted by virtue of having arrived with an entry clearance granted under Appendix EU (Family Permit) can now be cancelled where there has been a material change in circumstances since the family permit was granted. A cancellation decision on those grounds can be challenged by way of administrative review.
  • The returning resident provisions in Part 1 of the Immigration Rules for those with ILR returning to the UK after a lengthy absence abroad are disapplied to those with ILR under Appendix EU.

Alongside these, there have been a few other changes in other parts of the Rules, the most notable being:

  • The salary threshold in the eligibility criteria for indefinite leave to remain under Tier 2 will not increase annually following the recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee. As a result, it will remain at £35,800 for all applications submitted on or after 6 April 2019 (paragraph 245HF(vi)(3)).
  • Archaeology jobs fitting SOC 2114 - Social and Humanities’ Scientists are now in the UK-wide shortage occupation list.
  • There has been the annual update to the Permit Free Festival list in Appendix V (allowing performers to be paid while here as visitors).

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