Covid-19 and Immigration Policy update

Written on 18 May 2020

interAnnouncements following the outbreak of the global pandemic came thick and fast from UK Visas and Immigration, and at times it was almost impossible to keep up. UKVI appeared to predominantly take the lead from the Treasury, and announcements were often contradictory, ill thought through or simply nonsensical.

Fortunately, in many areas, UKVI did however seem to listen and once the initial chaos calmed a little, pragmatic and helpful clarifications were can be accessed here, or if you don’t have time, a copy of the slides highlighting the key changes can be downloaded here. The key areas we look at include:

  • Changes to Right to Work checks
  • Workforce changes and redundancy
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and sponsored workers
  • Addressing mobility issues – both for in country individuals and out of country
  • Compliance requirements
  • “Post-Covid” considerations

Not much has been announced since this webinar was run, but many key gaps in policy still exist. We are in regular contact with the UKVI Coronavirus team, so do get in touch if you have any specific query.

We also ran a follow up webinar on 12 May 2020 to provide an update, following significant clarifications from the government over the bank holiday weekend, as well as answering specific questions, which can be submitted in advance. You can sign up for this free update here.

In the meantime, we have also started to hear several rumours of changes that will be implemented. This includes:

  • The return to using Post Offices for biometric enrolment for applications made within the UK
  • Potential automatic extensions to expired entry clearance visas
  • Greater flexibility on the ability to utilise the in country switching concession, where an individual’s current visa expires after 31 May cut off currently stated

While all the above would be welcome changes, and offer many clients greater options, it remains to be seen which, if any, will become a reality. As my colleague Tina also discussed in this edition below, it will be interesting to see whether any of these changes remain in the long term, when the policy makers come to realise the benefits of the changes that have been forced upon them.