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Within the global mobility industry covid-19 has caused many disruptions worldwide; when it comes to immigration updates, regulations continue to change daily, globally. That’s why, during the last week of April, here at K2 we ran two live webinars, which dove into all things relating to UK immigration amidst the chaos of covid-19.

Access the recording of this session here

These live webinars were presented by our dedicated K2 immigration team and were designed to help attendees consider more deeply what the latest news in immigration may mean for them, and answer any questions.

The webinars were kicked off with an overview of the current covid-19 crisis and what the landscape of immigration looks like with Simon Higson, UK Immigration Manager and Visa Expert. This included conversation surrounding visa extensions, switching to a long-term visa within the UK, absence reporting and Right To Work checks, home working, life in the UK and English Language tests for ILR, the current status of Biometric Centres and also overseas applications to come to the UK. Whilst discussing these topics, Simon explained the most topical impacts and solutions we are experiencing.

After this introduction, Alpa Morjaria, UK Immigration Manager, then talked us through what the latest updates may mean for EU nationals. The discussion included the impacts of Brexit, what the latest situation is for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, family members, and finally, what is expected after 31st December 2020.

To complete the presentation aspect of the webinars, we then heard from Sandra Toppin, UK Immigration Manager and HR Consultant, on what we can expect from the future of immigration. Sandra talked us through the new UK Points Based System, what is needed to become an approved sponsor, as well as what is recommended in terms of actions and timelines.

To conclude the session, our expert immigration panellists then answered live questions from the attendees. Please see below for a summary of these questions and answers.

The session was intended to be insightful and also interesting, if you would like to watch the session you can do so via the link below.

Access the recording of this session here

Questions recap 

For an EU national moving to the UK this year, what is the best approach? Would this be to pursue the settlement scheme?

Any EU nationals moving to the UK this year will need to apply under the settlement scheme. This will be really beneficial as it’s a free service, it’s very quick, and the rules and regulations for the EU settlement scheme are less stringent then what they will be under the new settlement system.

In view of the COVID-19 situation, are there any indications that the Brexit timetable will shift?

The Points Based System is due to come in from the 1st January. The discussions through parliament, have been postponed, hence why there is a slight area of hesitation in terms of the absolute details of the process and when it comes into affect.  Brexit has happened, we are supposed to be in a new system from January next year, the absolute detail of that will now be under negotiation over the next few months. It’s hard to imagine that it wont go ahead, it may just be in a slightly different format than what was once agreed.

Do we anticipate that the application fees/surcharges for Tier 2 under the new Point Based System will remain the same despite a lot more applications expected to be made?

Yes, they are expected to remain the same. EU nationals and non-EU nationals are now going to be treated the same in terms of process, the only difference is that under the entry clearance application EU nationals will be able to make their application online or through an app. Similar to the process for the EU settlement scheme. As a result of that, the fees may be slightly reduced for that entry clearance application route. Apart from that, everyone will be treated the same, so do expect a skill surcharge, a health surcharge and an application fee as well.

Will EU citizens be subject to the advertising criteria and monthly panel approval?

In terms of the new system that will be coming into place next year, one of the points that had been addressed was that potentially, the resident labour market test was going to be removed completely from applications, so that wont be a requirement. We are hoping that this will still be on the agenda, so do for the moment assume that it wont be a requirement, as this was stated in the original plan. However this could be subject to possible change over the coming year.

What is the current situation in Hong Kong with regards to immigration? Do you have this specific insight? 

For the most part (right now), Hong Kong is implementing a mandatory quarantines for people who are travelling into the country, for a period of 14 days on arrival. In terms of containment measures, the restrictions on activities and movement is not as strict as we are experiencing in the UK, bars are closed, but restaurants are open but prohibited from serving alcohol. Hong Kong is not in full lock down.

I understand that other EU countries will have individual approaches but do we have clarity as to which countries have confirmed definitely what they expect the immigration process to be for UK nationals going to work in those countries? Will it just be the standard approach they adopt for any non-EU nationals? 

Brits will be considered non-EU nationals and will have to go through the normal process. I have not seen any countries looking to implement an eased immigration process for Brits, but this may come in the future. For now, consider Brits to be in the category of non-EU nationals at the end of the transition period.

How will Right To Work checks change for EU nationals from Jan 2021. I have heard we can rely on the EU passport still but anyone who enters after Jan 1 2021 would not have right to work. This feels unclear!

As far as we are aware, the Right to Work checks will still continue as they are at the moment in terms of what documents you need to see. There is the employer checking service, that will be expanded to take into account the new scheme once it is up and running.

General good practice is to assume that nobody has the right to work, unless you can prove otherwise. Use the employer checking service and the EU settlement checking service.

Will current approved sponsors need to re-apply for sponsorship?

No. If you’ve already got an approved sponsor license, you do not need to re-apply, for another. This is purely for sponsors who do not have a sponsor license at the moment.

What happens if I am unable to get my documents certified when applying for a Sponsored Licence?

The Home Office has eased the rules and regulations slightly due to covid-19, therefore will accept supporting documents that have not been certified. Please note, the Home Office will make a note of this on their system, and it may trigger an audit when everyone is back working, and they may come to your office to audit your documents. We would suggest that you keep the original documents on file to be able to show the auditor.

If we haven’t been audited and given the situation how likely is it that the UKBA audit will happen?

The Home Office conduct random audits. So if you have not yet been audited, the Home Office may contact you about an audit. Also, the Home Office can turn up unannounced at your office. With everything going on with covid-19, we do not expect audits to resume straight away when work resumes, but they can come usually at any point.

How much lead time will I need to gain a certificate of sponsorship?

Generally, we recommend an application process to be started 3 months in advance of an application.

If someone starts 1st Jan 2021 will they be subject to Resident Labour Market Test if the job advertised in 2019.

Advertisements are only valid for 6-months. You would not be able to use that advertisement for any job in 2021. If the individual is going to be coming to the UK in January 2021, they will be subject to the new immigration law.

It is also rumoured that under the new immigration scheme starting in January 2021, the Resident Labour Market Test might be removed from applications. This is subject to change, but was suggested as part of reducing the RQF level 6 to 3.

Access the recording of this session here

We are here to help in any way we can

Should you need any additional information, consultation, or guidance, 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 immigration experts, please contact us we would be happy to arrange this.

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