Category: Legal Advice

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors

As a Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsor, it is imperative to stay updated on procedures which may impact you. If you are currently sponsoring someone affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), you must ensure you are acting in accordance to the latest legislations.

Here’s what you need to know.

(Updated as of 20 April 2020)

If your student or employee is absent:

  • Enforcement action will not be taken against sponsors who continue to sponsor students/employees despite absences due to coronavirus – absences related to coronavirus do not need to be reported
  • Sponsorship will not be withdrawn because of coronavirus
  • Sponsorship will not be withdrawn if student is unable to attend for more than 60 days / employee is absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks

This will be kept under continuous review.

If you’re sponsoring a student who is distance learning:

  • Tier 4 students whether in the UK or another country can be sponsored if they are continuing their studies through distance learning
  • If a student defers or permanently withdraws from their studies for reasons unrelated to coronavirus, this must be reported as usual

These procedures apply until 31 May 2020. They will be reviewed.

If you have issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) or a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and the sponsored employee or student has not yet applied for a visa

  • The employee or student will still be able to apply for a visa
  • The start date for the course or employment stated on the CoSor CAS may have changed. We will not automatically refuse such cases

If you’re sponsoring a student who’s waiting for their Tier 4 visa application to be decided

You may allow students to start their studies before their visa application has been decided if:

  • you are a Tier 4 sponsor (other than Tier 4 Legacy Sponsors)
  • you have assigned the student a CAS
  • the student submitted their application before their current visa expired and has shown you evidence of this
  • the course they start is the same as the one listed on their CAS
  • the student has a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme(ATAS) certificate if required
  • Reporting responsibilities commence from the date you issue the CAS

If you’re sponsoring employees who are working from home

  • If sponsored employees are working from home due to coronavirus, the Home office does not need to be notified
  • Other changes must be reported as usual

If you’re sponsoring an employee who’s waiting for their Tier 2 or 5 visa application to be decided

You may allow employees to start work before their visa application has been decided if:

  • you have assigned them a CoS
  • the employee submitted their application before their current visa expired
  • the role they are employed in is the same as the one on their CoS
  • Reporting responsibilities commence from the date you have assigned them a CoS

 

If you cannot pay the salaries of sponsored employees because you’ve temporarily reduced or ceased trading

  • You can temporarily reduce the pay of your sponsored employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower
  • Any reductions must be part of a company-wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same
  • These reductions must be temporary, and the employee’s pay must return to at least previous levels once these arrangements have ended

For more information on Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), send an email to info@compasslaw.org.uk or contact us on 01204 531 535 to book a telephone/Skype consultation. The fee is £30.

To limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), until further notice, our drop-in service and all scheduled appointments will be held remotely. Please be advised that whilst our remote drop-in service will be held on Mondays between 10am – 1:30pm, our Friday service (usually held in Preston) has been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Thank you for your cooperation and stay safe.

Compass Immigration Law LTD:

“The direct route to immigration expertise.”

EEA FREE MOVEMENT RIGHTS: FAMILY MEMBERS OF BRITISH CITIZENS

Since March 2019, applicants for an EEA residence card can be either a family member or an extended family member of a British citizen, this is in light of the Banger judgement and subsequent changes to the 2016 European Economic Area regulations. If the conditions are met, a family member or an extended family member of a British citizen will be treated as if they are the family member of a European Economic Area (EEA) national under the 2016 regulations.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • If the British citizen exercised free movement rights as a worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or student in an EEA host country immediately before returning to the UK, or had acquired the right of permanent residence in the EEA host country
  • If the British citizen would satisfy the conditions for residence if they were an EEA national (that is they are within their first 3 months of residence or are a qualified person)
  • If the family member or extended family member and British citizen resided together in the other EEA member state and that residence was genuine
  • If the extended family member’s residence in the other EEA member state was lawful
  • If the family member or extended family member met these conditions for the entire period being relied upon
  • If the purpose of the residence in the EEA host country was not to avoid any UK immigration law applying to non-EEA nationals (for example the Immigration Rules)

For more information on free movement rights for family members of British citizens, send an email to info@compasslaw.org.uk or contact us on 01204 531 535 to book a telephone/skype consultation. The fee is £30.

To limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), until further notice, our drop-in service will be held remotely on Mondays between 10am – 1:30pm (Bolton). Please be advised that our Preston drop-in service held on Fridays have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Compass Immigration Law LTD:

“The direct route to immigration expertise.”

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS: SKILLED WORKERS

To meet the English language requirements, applicants must have passed a test at or above the level required for the route in which they are applying. To meet the requirements for a qualification taught in English, it must have been taught in English to the appropriate level. Where the language requirements are met, points-based system applications must be awarded 10 points. Appendix W workers are not awarded points – they either pass or fail the English language requirements.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • Tier 1 entrepreneurs and graduate entrepreneurs with entry clearance and leave to remain must have a knowledge of English equivalent to level B1 or above of the Council of Europe’s common European framework for language and learning
  • Tier 2 Minister of religion with entry clearance and leave to remain must have a knowledge of English equivalent to level B2 or above of the Council of Europe’s common European framework for language and learning
  • Tier 2 (general) with entry clearance, leave to remain or any other application not covered elsewhere must have a knowledge of English equivalent to level B1 or above of the Council of Europe’s common European framework for language and learning
  • Tier 2 (sportsperson) with entry clearance and leave to remain must have a knowledge of English equivalent to level A1 or above of the Council of Europe’s common European framework for language and learning
  • Appendix W worker (start up / innovator) with entry clearance and leave to remain must have a knowledge of English equivalent to level B2 or above of the Council of Europe’s common European framework for language and learning

For more information on English language requirements for skilled workers, send an email to info@compasslaw.org.uk to book a telephone/Skype consultation. The fee is £30.

To limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), until further notice, our drop-in service will be held remotely on Mondays between 10am – 1:30pm (Bolton). Please be advised that our Preston drop-in service held on Fridays have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Compass Immigration Law LTD:

“The direct route to immigration expertise.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the UK immigration system – Where do you stand?

In these testing times of uncertainty, clarity is of the utmost importance. Irrespective of one’s social, political or economic status, we are all impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in some capacity. To shed some light, here is some advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents.

(Updated as of 09 June 2020)

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020:

“your visa will be extended to 31 July 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). You must request an extension by updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) if your visa is expiring and you cannot leave the UK at present but are not planning to stay in the UK in the long term.”

Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Your email must be in English.

Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre.

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 your home country, for example if the border has closed

You will be notified when your request has been received and when your visa has been extended.

If you’re applying to stay in the UK long term:

“during these unique circumstances you’ll be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 July. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country. You’ll need to meet the same visa requirements and pay the UK application fee. This includes those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 July 2020. You can apply online. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.”

Application and Service Centres in the UK

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19). You cannot book an appointment.

If you’ve already made an appointment to attend a UKVCAS or an SSC, you will be contacted to be informed that it has been cancelled. You’ll be advised when you can book a new appointment.

Your immigration status in the UK will not change as a result of you not being able to attend an appointment.”

If you’re on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa and your business has been disrupted

 “You no longer need to employ at least 2 people for 12 consecutive months each. The 12-month period you are required to employ someone for can be made up of multiple employees across different months.

Time when your employees were furloughed will not count towards the 12-month period.

If have not been able to employ staff for 12 months in total by the time your visa expires, you will be allowed to temporarily extend your stay to give you time to meet the requirement.

These arrangements will continue for applications made after 31 May 2020, where the jobs you are relying on were disrupted due to COVID-19.

If you’ve applied for a Tier 4 visa and are waiting for a decision on your application

You can start your course or studies before your visa application has been decided if:

  • your sponsor is a Tier 4 sponsor
  • you have been given a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • the course you start is the same as the one listed on your CAS
  • you have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme(ATAS) certificate if required

If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must stop your course or studies.

If you’ve applied for a Tier 2 or 5 visa and are waiting for a decision on your application

You can start work before your visa application has been decided if:

  • you have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • the job you start is the same as the one listed on your CoS

“If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused your sponsor will stop sponsoring you and you must stop working for them.”

If you need more information about the measures in place for students and their sponsors, check out the information here.

If you’re outside the UK:

“many UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed or offering limited services. For advice on visa services in your country, contact”:

  • TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
  • VFS global for all other countries

“In some areas the UK cannot send visa vignettes across some borders and routes due to border restrictions. If you have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, you’ll be contacted and told your appointment will not take place. English Testing Centres are also affected. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website here or contact your test centre for more information.”

Getting your documents:

“As VACs reopen we will prioritise returning customer passports. If the VAC where you applied is still closed we will not be able to return your passport. We will reopen more VACs where local restrictions allow and social distancing can be maintained.”

British nationals abroad who need to apply for a passport:

“Her Majesty’s Passport Office is accepting online passport applications.

If you are advised that you must book an appointment at your nearest VAC to submit your passport application, you should check if it’s open.

If your country’s VAC is still closed, you won’t be able to apply for a British passport until it re-opens.

If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to discuss your options. You can also check the latest travel advice from the FCO.”

If you are applying for a Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visa

“If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you have not been able to travel to the UK you may still be eligible for a visa. You should make your application as planned and we will consider all applications on a case by case basis.”

If your 30-day visa to work, study or join family has expired

“If your 30-day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year.

To make a request, contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. You’ll need to include your name, nationality, date of birth and your GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line. If you’ve already contacted us about this, please let us know in your email.

You’ll be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in your passport.

You will not be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place.

This process will be in place until the end of 2020.”

If you’re applying to enter the UK or remain on the basis of family or private life

“There are temporary concessions in place if you’re unable to meet the requirements of the family Immigration Rules to enter or remain in the UK due to coronavirus.

If you’re unable to travel back to the UK due to coronavirus travel restrictions and your leave has expired, a short break in continuous residence will be overlooked. You are expected to make your next application as soon as possible.”

Fiancés, fiancées or proposed civil partners

“If you’re here with 6 months’ leave as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and your wedding or civil ceremony has been delayed due to coronavirus you can either request an extension until 31 July 2020 by updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team, or apply to extend your stay for a further 6 months to allow the ceremony to take place.”

Changes to the minimum income and adequate maintenance requirement

“If you have experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus, we will consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income due to coronavirus, provided the requirement was met for at least 6 months up to March 2020.

If your salary has reduced because you’re furloughed, we will take account of your income as though you’re earning 100% of your salary.

If you’re self-employed, a loss of annual income due to coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will generally be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.”

If you’re unable to provide specified documents

“In some cases, we will be able to decide your application without seeing certain specified documents if you cannot get them due to coronavirus. Otherwise, you may be asked to submit the specified documents after the date of application.”

Changes to the English language requirement

“If you’re asked to take an English language test as part of your application, you can apply for an exemption if the test centre was closed or you couldn’t travel to it due to coronavirus when you applied.”

For more information on how visa applicants/applications/extensions will be impacted during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, send an email to info@compasslaw.org.uk to book a telephone/Skype consultation. The fee is £30.

To limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), until further notice, our drop-in service will be held remotely on Mondays between 10am – 1:30pm (Bolton). Please be advised that our Preston drop-in service held on Fridays have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Compass Immigration Law LTD:

“The direct route to immigration expertise.”

Follow us:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CompassLaw

Twitter: @CompassImmLaw_

www.compasslaw.org.uk

Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK

The British Nationality Act 1981 provides that a person applying for naturalisation must have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK, and of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic. Regulations specify how a person can demonstrate knowledge of English language. Since 2007, the requirements for certain Indefinite Leave to Remain applications have included knowledge of English and of life in the UK.

This guidance tells you about the knowledge of language and life requirement for those applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain or Naturalisation as a British citizen.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • Applicants must meet the ‘knowledge of language’ requirement by either:
    • having a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
    • having a degree that was taught or researched in English
    • being a national of a majority English-speaking country and knowledge of ‘life in the UK’ requirements
  • Applicants must meet the ‘life in the UK’ requirement by taking the test booked through gov.uk
  • There are exceptions to these requirements (for a definitive list, please get in touch)

For more information on Knowledge of language and life in the UK, send an email to info@compasslaw.org.uk to book a telephone/skype consultation. The fee is £30.

To limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), until further notice, our drop-in service will be held remotely on Mondays between 10am – 1:30pm (Bolton). Please be advised that our Preston drop-in service held on Fridays have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Compass Immigration Law LTD:

“The direct route to immigration expertise.”

Points-based system: Tier 1 (Exceptional talent)

Closed to new entrants and extensions on 20 February 2020, this route was replaced by Global Talent. This category was for highly skilled people in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the Arts (encompassing culture, fashion, architecture, film and television), and digital technology who wished to work in the UK. Applicants were already internationally recognised at the highest level as leaders in their particular field or had demonstrated exceptional promise and were likely to become leaders in their particular field. Applications for settlement as a Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) migrant can continue to be submitted after 20 February 2020.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • Applicants must be 18 or over
  • Entry clearance is mandatory
  • Biometric information is required for applications made in the UK
  • Dependants are allowed
  • Knowledge of language and life is required (for indefinite leave to remain applications)

For more information on Points-based system: Tier 1 (Exceptional talent), send an email to info@compasslaw.org.uk to book a telephone/skype consultation. The fee is £30.

To limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), until further notice, our drop-in service will be held remotely on Mondays between 10am – 1:30pm (Bolton). Please be advised that our Preston drop-in service held on Fridays have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Compass Immigration Law LTD:

“The direct route to immigration expertise.”

 

Global Talent (Appendix W Workers)

Though Global Talent replaced Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) on 20 February 2020, the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) route remains open for settlement applications. This category is for talented and promising individuals in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, humanities, digital technology and arts and culture (including film and television, fashion design and architecture) wishing to work in the UK. Applicants will be leaders in their field, or have the potential to be leaders, as determined by a Home Office recognised endorsing body. Furthermore, all migrants entering the UK under the Global Talent category must have valid entry clearance under this route. If they do not, entry will be refused.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • Applicants must be 18 or over
  • Entry clearance is mandatory
  • Biometric information is required for applications made in the UK
  • Dependents are allowed
  • Knowledge of language and life is required (for indefinite leave to remain applications)

For more information on Global Talent (Appendix W Workers), send an email to info@compasslaw.org.uk to book a telephone/skype consultation. The fee is £30.

To limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), until further notice, our drop-in service will be held remotely on Mondays between 10am – 1:30pm (Bolton). Please be advised that our Preston drop-in service held on Fridays have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Compass Immigration Law LTD:

“The direct route to immigration expertise.”

Guidance on policy for UK visas under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) was replaced by the Global Talent category on 20 February 2020. Several transitional arrangements apply to applicants who are affected by this change.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • Applicants who hold a valid Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) endorsement (Stage 1) but have not yet applied for entry clearance or leave to remain in line (Stage 2), can use this endorsement to apply for Global Talent. The initial requirements mirror those previously applied to Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) applicants
  • Applicants who currently hold Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) leave and who wish to apply to extend their stay, must do so under the Global Talent The extension requirements mirror those previously applied to Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) applicants
  • Applicants who are currently in the UK under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) and who wish to apply for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) may do so without the need to switch into the Global Talent route
  • Applicants who wish to apply as the dependant of a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrant may continue to do so

For more information on Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) and how you may be affected by the changes, send an email to info@compasslaw.org.uk to book a telephone/skype consultation. The fee is £30.

To limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), until further notice, our drop-in service will be held remotely on Mondays between 10am – 1:30pm (Bolton). Please be advised that our Preston drop-in service held on Fridays have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Compass Immigration Law LTD:

“The direct route to immigration expertise.”