Around the world, COVID-19 has resulted in wide-spread disruption, including office closures, travel bans, cancelled flights and quarantines. This has many serious knock- on effects to immigration compliance and visas. We have prepared our ‘Guide to the immigration implications of COVID-19 for UK employers’ to cover the most common questions and things you should be considering as an employer and sponsor
Employers and sponsors are dealing with the following issues:
- Conducting right to work checks while onboarding new hires remotely
- Ensuring sponsorship duties continue to be met with sponsored workers who may have delays/changes to work start dates or locations due to travel restrictions, or salaries needing to be cut or employees on unpaid leave
- Managing ongoing recruitment to ensure business continuity – e.g. in some cases non EEA-nationals can still be hired and start working remotely overseas pending a decision on their visa application and travel to the UK
- Managing changes to the process for new visa applications and those already in progress
- Dealing with issues where people are stuck in the UK, or stranded outside the UK trying to come back
For further information on these issues, please see the guide and insights below.
The situation is continuing to evolve and we are monitoring developments closely whilst anticipating Home Office guidance and changes before they are announced. We will be updating our resources as necessary in light of this.
The UK Government Website for updates is GOV.UK - Coronavirus (COVID-19): immigration guidance
Please liaise with your Lewis Silkin immigration specialist if you have specific queries or concerns related to coronavirus that we can assist with.
A guide to the immigration implications of COVID-19 for UK employers16 September 2020
This article sets out the main immigration law issues and Home Office guidance that you need to be aware of so you can consider the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for your business. The Home Office is making policy announcements and issuing revised guidance regularly and we will keep you updated as this is published.
Your ten point plan for the Autumn26 August 2020
This infographic sets out ten key considerations for employers following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Home Office issues communications to sponsors about licence renewals13 August 2020
The Home Office has now started to make early contact with sponsors whose licences are due to expire up until the end of the year. These sponsors will be able to apply to renew their licences earlier than the usual maximum 90 days before expiry.
Pandemic right to work check procedures13 August 2020
Under the Home Office’s current guidance for right to work checks (“RTW”), it is possible to conduct a fully compliant initial or follow-up RTW without seeing the individual face-to-face. Where this is not possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office has instituted a temporary adjusted procedure, which must be backed up by retrospective checks in due course. We have summarised the options and procedures below, as well as highlighting some general points to be aware of during the pandemic.
How does COVID-19 affect UK migrants accessing public funds and the NHS?10 August 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has put questions around the rights of migrants to access public funds and the NHS into the spotlight. Migrants are allowed to access the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the ‘Furlough Scheme’) via their employer. However, there are limits to what government assistance some migrants are entitled to following disruption to their normal income, and access to free NHS healthcare may also be unavailable to some people.
Home Office confirms COVID-19 immigration arrangements beyond 31 July 202003 August 2020
In a last-minute update on 29 July 2020, the Home Office has pivoted towards a return to business as usual on immigration policy. Some significant concessions remain available until at least 31 August 2020, however there are a number of potential pitfalls for employers and individuals to be aware of.
Home Office publishes COVID-19 minimum income policy for family visa route applicants21 July 2020
On 17 July 2020 the Home Office updated its policy guidance to confirm a surprisingly limited concession to the usual minimum income requirements that most applicants for partner and child visas must meet.
UK immigration and COVID-19 beyond the lockdown16 June 2020
UK visa processing is slowly starting to resume this month, but it is not yet business as usual. There are still many things that employers and applicants need to monitor, and potential pitfalls to avoid.