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K2 have been running Brexit-Covid update webinars, to provide audiences with reliable industry information and the latest news.

As Q1 comes to a close the global community continues to face Covid-19 together. K2 have been running Brexit-Covid update webinars, to provide audiences with reliable industry information and the latest news.

For this session, updates were provided by the following K2 subject matter experts:

  • Ken McCully, Group Commercial Manager (Shipping)
  • Jose Pose, Group Commercial Manager (Destination Services)
  • Jesper Albrekt, Global Immigration Manager (Global Immigration)
  • Simon Higson, UK Immigration Manager (UK Immigration)

The session was facilitated by Huw Thomas, UK Business Development Manager, who welcomed the attendees, provided an introduction, and fielded questions at the end.

To start the session, Ken gave an insightful overview of what we are experiencing in the shipping world as a result of both Brexit and Covid-19.

Ken explained that the issues that we had predicted and planned for, in the transition period following Brexit- largely did not come into fruition. The initial issues that we had feared, did not materialise. For example, we are not experiencing huge delays or shipment rejections!

Ken then explored the impacts that we are experiencing due to Covid-19. In the UK, there are no real problems due to Covid-19 and shipping. However, throughout Europe different countries are taking a slightly different approach. Ken reassured the audience that K2 are in regular contact with all vendors and are keeping a close eye on the global situation. Sometimes logistics can be challenging when it comes to shipping- but generally it is business as usual for the UK.

As always with shipping, K2 are trying to pre-empt as much as we can. Freight rates are still volatile, and we have seen increases over the past year. When it comes to these increased costs, Ken explained that K2 will do everything they can to negotiate rates, however fundamentally it is the shipping lines who hold the purse strings, and K2 will always prioritise ensure that service never suffers. On a positive note- Ken confirmed that K2 expect these rates to come down again once things go back to normal.

Lastly, Ken addressed the Suez Canal fiasco, and noted that it is likely to cause a delay in shipments, however as these occur K2 can advise when needed.
Destination services 

The session then heard from Jose Pose, who gave a review of where we are now, and what to expect moving forwards in terms of destination service provision.

Jose began by exploring the nuances in healthcare access in Europe and in the UK, highlighting that there are differences between visitors and residents. Visitors/ tourists in Europe will be able to use their EHIC cards for health provisions, however residents will need to have private healthcare.

When looking at the housing market, Jose highlighted that many assignees are not relocating when they had originally planned. This trend has led to a reduction in moves across Europe, and less properties becoming available. For the properties that are available, Jose explained that those with more space and especially outdoor space are coming at a higher premium, as the demand for more comfortable space has increased. As there are less people moving, it may be expected that the decreased demand would lead to more opportunities to negotiate rental prices- however this is not the case. Even though the demand is reduced, stock is limited and therefore there is less opportunity to negotiate.

In terms of education, generally across Europe school classes have resumed. Although there are some exceptions, for example, the Dutch are back to school for 1 day per week. Places in international schools remain available, however places for secondary schools are a bit more of a challenge.

Looking ahead, Jose reflected that there has been relatively limited impact on destination services following Brexit, in Europe. K2 are also expecting an increase of international travel in summer 2021 as many countries are well on their way to moving out of lockdowns and away from restrictions.

Jose noted that K2 are keeping abreast of the ongoing changes and updates and will be liaising with clients and partners to ensure everyone is up to date and aware of the developing situation.
Global immigration 

The session then heard from Jesper, who gave an update to the audience on global immigration with regards to Brexit and Covid-19.

Jesper noted how many countries around the world are starting to prepare for increased travel plans, with vaccination rollouts underway and travel and immigration looking to resume. For example, many European countries are starting to put plans in place, as is the USA and it’s the same in APAC. These are positive signs for a brighter future!

Jesper noted that in the coming months, some regions may open quicker than others. For example, APAC is likely to open up much slower than other regions, due to its tight restrictions so far and its ability (largely) to keep infection rates low. Therefore, Jesper predicts that borders will open up slower here than in other regions- and highlighted that the world will likely have to live with special travel requirements for some time to come.

Jesper also touched upon the long term affects of Covid-19 that we can expect. For example, due to Covid-19 many countries have experienced a rise in unemployment rates, which led to the introduction of many protectionist employment policies. These policies were designed to protect local work forces and encourage companies to hire local talent. Jesper noted that we can expect such policies to remain in place long after Covid-19 is gone.
UK immigration 

Simon Higson concluded the session by discussing the latest updates regarding UK Immigration, amidst Covid-19 and Brexit. To start, Simon reminded everyone that we are only 3 months away from the end of the final transitional period, for Brexit. Which means that EU nationals who are living and working in the UK, who have been in the UK since before December 31, 2020, have 3 months left to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). They need to do this before June 30th 2021. If they do not do this, they will not be qualified to live and work in the UK.

The New Points Based System has been in place for a few months and seems to be working well. Simon confirmed that approvals typically are issued in a few days. Simon also introduced the new Grad Scheme visa option- which allows graduates to apply for a 2 year extension on their visa; applications begin on July 1st.

For more information on Brexit and how K2 can assist you, please visit out Brexit page.

With regards to Covid-19, we have seen throughout the pandemic a number of immigration rules relaxed, however amidst recent developments we have seen many of these relaxations removed. Simon ran through a few of the significant changes to be aware of, with regards to sponsored employees, premium processing routes, biometric appointments and applications, minimum salaries, temporary visas, visa applications and more.

Simon concluded by noting that concessions and regulations are changing all the time, so K2 are continuously checking in with the Home Office and keeping abreast of the seemingly moving targets and are advising clients on moves on a case by case basis.

Watch a recording of this webinar.

The session concluded with a live Q&A. To view a summary of the questions, please see below.

Please can you give a little more detail on the extra costs such as import tax on commercial goods?

There should be no import taxes on commercial goods. The tax and duties will not apply if they are used personal affects (used for more than 12 months).

Additional costs will be incurred if we cannot get the container booked on a vessel at the time of packing- and we would have to temporarily hold the goods at a warehouse, which is cheaper than keeping the goods in a container at the port.

Is there a safe amount of Corporate Housing available or is this the same case of housing?

There is corporate housing currently available.

Stock of corporate housing has reduced over the past few months due to less demand- therefore landlords are removing properties from the serviced accommodation market, and changing them to long term rentals, or removing them from the market entirely.

However, there is still sufficient stock, and many properties are returning to the market following an increase in demand.

What are the current estimated processing times to apply for a Skilled worker visa for someone already working in the UK?

Processing times are somewhat flexible, based on where the application is being made. The London office is taking 3-4 weeks, priority routes are on a 1-day, 5-day and 8-week service.

We are here to help in any way we can

Should you need any additional information, consultation, or guidance on any of the above, please do contact us as we would be delighted to assist you.

Additionally, if you would like to have a virtual coffee with any of our experts, please contact us we would be happy to arrange this.

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