The Latest April 2021 UK Visa News and Guidance
If you would like to know more information regarding the information, which I covered in this article, you can get it HERE.
The Turing Scheme for Global Study and Work Opportunities
Excellent news for schools, colleges and universities that can now apply for funding to allow their students to study and work around the world as part of the new Turing Scheme. The Turing scheme is a student exchange programme. The UK Department for Education just created it to replace the EU Erasmus Programme, which existed before Brexit.
The programme, backed by £110 million, will fund 35,000 global exchanges from September 2021, including university study, school exchanges, and industry work placements.
The Turing scheme offers benefits to students, predominantly from disadvantaged backgrounds. If they are eligible under the new scheme, they’ll be getting up to £490 per month towards living costs. It is in addition to travel funding and other forms of additional funding to offset passports, visas, and insurance costs.
The most exciting news for the students is that the Turing Scheme is a truly global programme. In other words, it will be available not only in the EU countries but around the world. Now every country in the world may partner with UK universities, schools and colleges.
An Employer’s Guide to Right to Work Checks
The Home Office just amended its ‘Employer’s Guide to Right to Works Checks’.
This updated guide clarifies several points:
- Right to work checks for EEA citizens will not change until after 30 June 2021. Until then, EEA citizens can use their passport to evidence their right to work in the UK.
- Until 30 June 2021, the employers don’t need to differentiate between EEA citizens who arrived before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) and those coming to the UK afterwards, during the grace period from 1 January to 30 June 2021.
- EEA citizens with status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system may choose to use the Home Office online service to evidence their right to work.
- During the grace period, employers cannot refuse to accept a passport or ID card from an EEA citizen. Neither can they insist on using the Home Office’s online checking service to prove their right to work during this period
- The employers don’t need to undertake retrospective checks on EEA citizens who were employed on or before 30 June 2021. The UKVI clarified that employers would maintain a continuous statutory excuse against a civil penalty in the event of illegal working. It is only if the initial right to work check were undertaken in line with the right to work legislation and published guidance. However, if an employer does choose to make checks, they need to do so in a non-discriminatory manner. The Home Office published a guide ‘Code of practice for employers: avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working’. It will guide the employers further on this point.
Long residence cases: How Long is 18 months?
The Upper Tribunal made a positive judgement on a long residence case called the Chang case. To get Indefinite Leave to Remain on the ground of long residence in the UK, the applicants, in addition to other requirements, will need to prove that they have had at least 10 years of continuous lawful residence in the UK.
‘Continuous residence’ means residence in the UK for an unbroken period, and for these purposes a period shall not be considered to have been broken where an applicant is absent from the UK for a period of 6 months or less at any one time, provided that the applicant in question has existing limited leave to enter or remain upon their departure and return’.
The rules further state that the applicants will break the continuity of residence in the UK if they have spent ‘a total of more than 18 months‘ outside the UK during the qualifying period.
In the Chang case, Ms Chang was absent from the UK for 543 days. The Home Office refused her long residence application. They stated that Ms Chang broke the continuity of residence in the UK by 3 days. According to the Home Office, the applicants could be away for no more than 540 days (18 months x 30 days (1 month) = 540 days).
The Upper Tribunal disagreed with such an interpretation, saying that “month” is not defined in the Immigration Rules.
The Upper Tribunal Judge’s reasoning was as follows:
‘It is self-evident that not all calendar months are of the same length’. He continued by saying that ‘In everyday usage, 18 months means a year and a half, rather than a collection of months selected at random. Any year has either 365 or 366 days. Similarly, any half-year has either 182.5 or 183 days. As leap-years cannot follow each other, then a year and a half is either 547.5, 548 or 548.5 days.‘
The verdict, which allowed Ms Chang to remain in the UK indefinitely, was as follows:
‘Drawing these strands together, I conclude that on a proper construction of “18 months” within paragraph 276A (a) (v) must be interpreted as 548 days.‘
Claiming Benefits without Switching to a 10-year Route
Another very positive decision was reached during the Judicial Review process regarding Appendix FM applications.
In this case, an applicant had leave to remain in the UK as the sole carer of a British citizen child. She was following the 5-year route. One of the conditions of her stay in the UK was ‘no recourse to public funds (NRPF).
Unfortunately, she lost her job during the pandemic. To support her children, she claimed Universal Credit. The Home Office told her that they would move her to a 10-year route to settlement if she continued claiming public funds. In practice, it meant that as a result of this temporary loss of her job (even if she resumes her employment in the near future), she would only be able to settle after 10 years of continuous residence in the UK (as opposed to 5 years).
At that point, the applicant had no choice and made an application. However, she did the Home Office to exercise their discretion. The UKVI moved her to the 10-year route to settlement. The Home Office refused to exercise their discretion. The refusal was challenged by way of Judicial Review because:
- the decision was disproportionate and a breach of s55 Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (protecting children’s wellbeing)
- the Home Office penalised the applicant for circumstances, which were outside her control (pandemic). This was contrary to the UK Government’s promises that ‘nobody will be punished for circumstances outside of their control.’
In her official statement made on 24 March 2020, Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
- ‘The UK continues to put the health and wellbeing of people first, and nobody will be punished for circumstances outside of their control.’
- ‘By extending people’s visas, we are giving people peace of mind and also ensuring that those in vital services can continue their work.’
As a result, after Ms Change issued the Judicial Review proceedings, the Home Office conceded the claim. They agreed for the applicant to remain on a 5-year route to settlement. It is despite breaching the ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition.
New Plan for Immigration Policy Statement
And finally, the Home Office just published a ‘New Plan for Immigration’ policy paper. This paper sets out the government’s intentions to build a fair but firm asylum and illegal migration system.
The New Plan for Immigration has the following three objectives:
- To increase the fairness and efficacy of our system. It is to better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum
- Also, the Home Office intends to deter illegal entry into the UK. They aim to achieve this by breaking the business model of criminal trafficking networks. The UKVI confirmed the intention to protect the lives of those these networks endanger
- To remove more easily from the UK those with no right to be here
This policy statement is open for discussion, advice and suggestions. The consultation process will run for 6 weeks from 24 March 2021.