27-03-20 – Remote hearings in the immigration tribunal: what could possibly go wrong?

Over recent weeks we have all had to spend more of our personal and professional lives online. The justice system is also shifting towards holding hearings via live video or audio link wherever possible. Taking stock of what we stand to lose from the expansion of these technologies may help us navigate the challenges ahead.  The immigration tribunal goes remote During the coronavirus pandemic, Immigration and Asylum Chamber cases that cannot be decided on the papers will most likely be heard remotely. A Pilot Practice Direction of 19 March 2020 informs us that hearings should be conducted remo...

27-03-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 27 March 2020)

Sponsor duties under Tiers 2, 4 and 5 of the Points Based System There is now brief Home Office coronavirus guidance for organisations who sponsor overseas workers or students under Tiers 2, 4 and 5 of the Points Based System. It promises: “We will not take enforcement action against sponsors who continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences due to coronavirus”. Sponsors are not currently required to report any absences from students or employees sponsored under Tier 2, Tier 4, or Tier 5, where those absences have been the result of the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.  S...

26-03-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 26 March 2020)

Relaxation of sponsor duties Sponsors are not currently required to report any absences from students or employees sponsored under Tier 2, Tier 4, or Tier 5, where those absences have been the result of the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.  Sponsors will also not be required to withdraw sponsorship for affected students who have been unable to attend for more than 60 days or for employees who have exceeded four weeks of absence without pay. Immigration detention The Home Office has already released around 350 people from immigration detention. But a senior official told the Home Affai...

26-03-20 – The chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced 26.03 that self-employed workers will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,500 a month to help them cope with the financial impact of coronavirus.

The money will be paid in a single lump sum but will not begin to arrive until the start of June at the earliest. Self-employed people will be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month. Mr Sunak said the grants would be available to people across the UK for at least three months, and longer if necessary. In all, 95% of people who earn most of their income as self-employed would be covered, the chancellor added. The Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support scheme is targeted at up to 3.8 million of the 5 million people...

25-03-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 25 March 2020)

Visa extensions and other immigration concessions If you are 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). The guidance continues: 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...

25-03-20 – Home Office aims to completely rewrite “confusing” Immigration Rules by January 2021

The Home Office has accepted the need to simplify the “complex and confusing” Immigration Rules and says that the work is already underway. In an official response to the Law Commission’s recent report on the subject, the department says that “we have already begun the process of reviewing, simplifying and consolidating the Rules”. Immigration minister Kevin Foster adds that the aim is to complete the overhaul by January 2021. The Law Commission’s report, published in January 2020, made 41 recommendations for redrafting the “overly complex and unworkable” regulations at the heart of the UK imm...

24-03-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 24 March 2020)

UK visa application centres Outside the UK VFS Global, which runs many of the UK visa application centres aboard, has a dedicated coronavirus page listing the ones which have closed. As of 24 March 2020, it reports that: UK has stopped accepting visa applications in Wuhan (China), Gurugram and North Mumbai (India), Kingston (Jamaica), Kuwait City (Kuwait), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), Lima (Peru), the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Miami, San Francisco and Seattle (USA), Caracas (Venezuela), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Bogota (Colombia) , Miami (USA) , Gurgaon (I...

23-03-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 23 March 2020)

Visa extensions and other concessions Particularly pressing is the situation for people who are in the UK on an expiring visa and unable to leave because of travel restrictions. Government guidance on this on currently focuses on Chinese citizens and residents of China stuck in the UK, as they were most affected at the time that guidance was first published, in mid-February 2020. At time of writing, that guidance had not been updated to cover other nationalities. Senior Home Office officials told the Home Affairs committee of MPs on 18 March that it soon would be, on the general principle of “...

20-03-20 – Leave in a time of coronavirus: can the Home Office grant blanket visa extensions?

With international travel closing down due to the coronavirus it is becoming not just unwise but impossible to move from some countries to others. Even if inbound flights are not banned by a country, airlines are finding it increasingly difficult to keep flights going anyway. This raises the question of what happens to people trapped outside their country of nationality. If their visas are coming to an end, do they need to apply to extend them and, if so, on what basis? Visitors and students at the end of their course would normally have no legal basis to extend their stay in the UK. Making a...

20-03-20 – The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

Here are the main points from the UK government measures to support businesses including: the government will step in to help pay people's wages through a coronavirus job retention scheme  Businesses can apply for a grant of up to £2,500 a month to cover 80% of salary for those retained but not working VAT for all businesses is being deferred until the end of June and the business loan scheme will now be interest free for 12 months Universal Credit allowance increases £1,000 a year grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a...