07-04-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 07 April 2020)

Bail reporting suspended The Home Office website now says that “reporting as a condition of immigration bail is temporarily paused”. People out on immigration bail should have received a text message telling them not to report for now. Anyone worried about missing an appointment when reporting resume should “let us have an up to date telephone number then we will be able to maintain contact with them to update them on any developments”. This can be done by emailing the relevant reporting centre. No recourse to public funds Migrants whose visa stipulates that they can have “no recourse to pub...

06-04-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 06 April 2020)

Visa extensions and other concessions If you are in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020 Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). To get this extension, those affected must fill in an online form by the following link: https://gov.smartwebportal.co.uk/homeoffice/public/webform.asp?id=199&id2=5C97E7 The blurb on the online form says that “we’ll respond to you within 5 working days”. Replies to successful extension requests are worded as follows: Your l...

03-04-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 03 April 2020)

Visa extensions and other concessions If you are in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020 Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring and you were not planning to stay in the UK. Replies to successful extension requests are worded as follows: Your leave has been extended under existing conditions until 31 May 2020. You will not be regarded as an oversta...

02-04-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 02 April 2020)

Immigration tribunal hearings HM Courts and Tribunals Service is now issuing a daily operation update. The latest version usefully summarises the position with First-tier and Upper Tribunal immigration and asylum cases: The [First-tier] tribunal has suspended face to face hearings (other than in exceptional circumstances) until further notice. A notice containing instructions on the next steps in your case will be sent to you. We are working through the listed cases in priority and date order and you should wait until we contact you. Please do not call us unless your enquiry is urgent. Bail a...

01-04-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 01 April 2020)

UK visa application centres Outside the UK A second Home Office factsheet of 24 March notes that “many of the UK’s Visa Application Centres (VACs) are currently closed and we anticipate more closing”. That includes all the visa application centres run by VFS Global on behalf of the Home Office. As of 1 April, the VFS website reports that “UK has stopped accepting visa applications globally”. All other visa centres overseas are run by TLScontact. It does not appear to have a centralised list of closures, but applicants can check the situation in their country through the TLScontact website. Op...

31-03-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 31 March 2020)

Right to work checks As the labour market collapses under the weight of pandemic restrictions, the Home Office emphasises that employers must still carry out checks on the immigration status of employees to see if they have the legal right to work in the UK. But those checks can now be carried out remotely. Guidance published on 30 March says that employees can submit a copy of their passport or ID rather than the original, and verify it by showing the employer the original on a video call. An accompanying press release says that the changes are “effective immediately”. The process for conduct...

31-03-20 – NHS frontline workers visas extended so they can focus on fighting coronavirus

Doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year. As part of the national effort to combat coronavirus, doctors, nurses and paramedics will automatically have their visas extended, free of charge, for one year. The extension, announced today (31 March) by the Home Secretary Priti Patel, will apply to around 2,800 migrant doctors, nurses and paramedics, employed by the NHS whose visa is due to expire before 1 October. The extension will also apply to their family members, demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff...

30-03-20 – Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 30 March 2020)

UK visa application centres Within the UK  All visa application centres within the UK are closed as of 28 March. Sopra Steria, which runs the network of Visa and Citizenship Application Centres on behalf of the Home Office, has the following message on its website: The UKVCAS service is currently suspended The worldwide response to COVID-19 continues to affect the UK’s Visa and Immigration Service. As a result, the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS), led by Sopra Steria on behalf of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), has suspended all services to help protect the health and we...

30-03-20 – Home Office can ignore human rights claims bolted on to normal immigration applications

The case of MY (refusal of human rights claim) Pakistan [2020] UKUT 89 (IAC) represents yet another cutback in the rights of migrant victims of domestic abuse, and in appeal rights more generally. The Upper Tribunal has ruled that the Home Office can simply refuse to engage with a human rights claim which is not made in the particular way the department wants it made. When refusing to engage with a human rights claim submitted in the “wrong” format, the Home Office is not refusing that claim, and therefore there is no right of appeal. Some migrants will have to make very difficult decisions as...

27-03-20 – Remote hearings in the immigration tribunal: what could possibly go wrong?

Over recent weeks we have all had to spend more of our personal and professional lives online. The justice system is also shifting towards holding hearings via live video or audio link wherever possible. Taking stock of what we stand to lose from the expansion of these technologies may help us navigate the challenges ahead.  The immigration tribunal goes remote During the coronavirus pandemic, Immigration and Asylum Chamber cases that cannot be decided on the papers will most likely be heard remotely. A Pilot Practice Direction of 19 March 2020 informs us that hearings should be conducted remo...