Around the world, COVID-19 has resulted in wide-spread disruption, including office closures, travel bans, cancelled flights and quarantines. This has many serious knock- on effects to immigration compliance and visas. We have prepared our ‘Guide to the immigration implications of COVID-19 for UK employers’ to cover the most common questions and things you should be considering as an employer and sponsor.
Employers and sponsors are dealing with the following issues:
- Conducting right to work checks while onboarding new hires remotely
- Ensuring sponsorship duties continue to be met with sponsored workers who may have delays/changes to work start dates or locations due to travel restrictions, or salaries needing to be cut or employees on unpaid leave
- Managing ongoing recruitment to ensure business continuity – e.g. in some cases non EEA-nationals can still be hired and start working remotely overseas pending a decision on their visa application and travel to the UK
- Managing changes to the process for new visa applications and those already in progress
- Dealing with issues where people are stuck in the UK, or stranded outside the UK trying to come back
For further information on these issues, please see the guide and insights below.
The situation is continuing to evolve and we are monitoring developments closely whilst anticipating Home Office guidance and changes before they are announced. We will be updating our resources as necessary in light of this.
The UK Government Website for updates is GOV.UK - Coronavirus (COVID-19): immigration guidance
Please liaise with your Lewis Silkin immigration specialist if you have specific queries or concerns related to coronavirus that we can assist with.
Carrying out adjusted right to work checks up to 5 April 202227 September 2021
Under the Home Office’s current guidance for right to work checks (RTW), it is possible to conduct a fully compliant initial or follow-up RTW without seeing the individual face-to-face. To cover practical difficulties arising during the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly where the checker cannot easily gain access to original documents required for a manual RTW, the Home Office has instituted a temporary adjusted procedure.
COVID-19 travel lists for England updated from 8 August 202106 August 2021
Liberalised arrangements for travelling to England are in place from 4 am BST on 8 August 2021, including France being removed from the ‘amber plus’ list and countries being moved between lists. The next review is scheduled for Wednesday 25 August 2021.
Current COVID-19 considerations for travelling to and from England03 August 2021
Significant changes to the COVID-19 requirements for entry to England were made with effect from 19 July 2021.
Home Office extends adjusted right to work checks to 31 August 202118 June 2021
The Home Office has confirmed to the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association that adjusted right to work checks will remain in place until at least 31 August 2021. The development comes at the eleventh hour, as full right to work checks were set to resume from 21 June 2021.
Updated COVID-19 absences policy enables more people to qualify for the EU Settlement Scheme14 June 2021
The Home Office has significantly expanded the policy to allow continuity of residence in the UK to be preserved in certain circumstances where an EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) applicant has been absent from the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Traffic light system comes into effect for travel to England19 May 2021
On 17 May 2021 a set of traffic light ratings was put in place for determining pre-and post-arrival COVID-19 measures for travelling to England.
COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks extended to 20 June 202112 May 2021
The Home Office has today confirmed that the COVID-19 adjusted right to work check process will remain in place until 20 June 2021, instead of 16 May 2021 as previously announced.
Home Office announces end to COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks22 April 2021
The Home Office confirmed on 20 April 2021 that the COVID-19 adjusted right to work check process will only remain in place until 16 May 2021. Although employers will need to undertake fully compliant right to work checks from 17 May 2021, they will not have to carry out retrospective checks where the adjusted process has been used.