Immigration in brief: a summary of recent changes

Written on 15 Feb 2021

Future of Work: our predictions

We have always been a future-focussed law firm, and we have increasingly been helping clients by advising them on how they can plan and be best prepared. We have produced this interactive document on our predictions, with considerations for businesses as they plan ahead.

BN(O) Visa launched

Despite the government announcing this visa in the media before any actual policy was confirmed, the special visa for British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens from Hong Kong was officially launched on 31 January 2021. Since we previously covered this development, it has been confirmed that the process for applications will be digital and managed entirely through a smartphone app. It is anticipated that there will be approximately 300,000 BN(O) citizens and their families looking to take advantage of this scheme, and any businesses in Hong Kong considering relocation should carefully consider this option.

Visa fees

On 1 February 2021, the Home Office confirmed there would be no changes to the current level of fees for all immigration applications. However, the news organisation Politico has picked up on a potential storm brewing. The UK is implementing different work visa costs for nationals of each of the EU nations, with five member states facing higher costs. There are 21 EU Member States (and five other non-EU states) that receive a £55 discount for several visa routes. However, five EU countries – Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania and Slovenia – are excluded from this list.

Impact of the new rules for musicians

Many will have read about the ongoing furore surrounding British musicians wishing to tour in Europe (and vice versa) after Brexit, but is this position being overstated? While it is undeniable that there are now significant further administrative barriers, and the various arguments regarding "who said what" appear to have blurred the issue, EU nationals coming to the UK are now subject to the same requirements, for example, as Americans – and plenty of US musicians tour the UK. Several specific routes exist to make obtaining a visa (where required) simpler for musicians. It is, however, more complex for UK acts travelling to the EU, as each country has its own rules, but, as a general position, these tend to be more favourable than the UK's position, with several even allowing permit free travel. Other issues do, however, arise such as around Carnets and the import and export of merchandise for sale, which are much more likely to cause headaches than visa requirements.

Caselaw update: procedural unfairness unlikely to help in PBS cases

The Court of Appeal has held that applicants have no right to argue that procedural unfairness has occurred when they have not been offered an opportunity to correct deficiencies in their application prior to refusal. In summary, the message is that the burden remains with applicants (and, therefore, also their sponsors) to ensure applications are complete and contain everything that is needed, including material in addition to the mandatory documents, where applicable, as the Home Office has no duty to provide any further opportunity for submissions. This is of special importance when the often unclear requirements of the rules are subjective, and only specialist experience and knowledge can assist.