UK Visas and Immigration news

Keep up to date with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) changes and other immigration updates.

If you'd like to register to receive notification of updates on this page, please email Staff Immigration

Useful COVID-19 information

14 June 2021

New staff who are already in the UK and existing staff who are changing job type (eg research to teaching)

If you are already in the UK and you are coming to the University from another employer/sponsor, or if you are an existing member of staff with a different type of job to the one you have been doing (for example, you have been a researcher who is moving into a lecturer role) you cannot start the new job until you have your Biometric Residence Permit/or your new online status and we have carried out a right to work check.

This also applies to Tier 4/Student visa holders who are switching into Skilled Worker but have not yet completed their studies. 

Switching visa type in the UK

The coronavirus concession allowing you to switch from a Visitor visa in the UK into a longer term route (such as Skilled Worker) has now ended. To be eligible to switch, your current visa type must be listed on the relevant gov.uk page (for example the Skilled Worker Visa "switch to this visa type" page).

EEA/Swiss staff and family members

Our Brexit webpage will be updated soon. In short, if you have lived in the UK since before 31 December 2020, you and your family members are likely to need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you have not already done so. Please check the Brexit webpage later this week for more information and links.

EU Settlement Scheme - absences from the UK due to coronavirus

The Home Office has updated their guidance to explain your situation if covid-19 has affected your residence in the UK. Please check the information on absences if you are concerned. 

17 May 2021

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The UK government has taken the decision to extend the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) with effect from Friday 21 May 2021 to international employees and visitors carrying out research in certain disciplines.  The scheme, which has applied to postgraduate students since 2008, provides a vetting service to prevent knowledge gained in the UK from being used inadvertently to support the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction or advanced conventional weapon technologies. 

All sponsored employees who meet the criteria must supply an ATAS certificate with their visa application if this is submitted on or after 21 May 2021.

All relevant visitors must have an ATAS certificate before any research activity is undertaken, where the engagement begins on or after 21 May 2021.

Existing employees and visitors to whom this is relevant will not need to apply for an ATAS certificate during their current period of permission to work in the UK, but will need to do so if/when they apply to extend their permission or switch in the UK into a relevant immigration route.

Please see the HR website for further details (information for applicants and managers).

Travel to the UK

From 17 May 2021, countries which are not on the the 'red list'​ for entering England will be rated 'amber' or 'green'. Each list has its own rules for coming to the UK, so please check to find out which list your country is on, and make sure you comply with all travel restrictions including pre-departure testing. Please check the travel advice issued by your carrier and check what you need to do before entering the UK.​​ 

New staff coming to the UK from overseas

The Home Office has asked us to point out that you must not travel to the UK before your permission begins. If you do, you will be regarded as a visitor and will not be allowed to begin work until you have left the UK and re-entered during the validity period of your permission.

Now that many overseas Visa Application Centres have reopened, you will no longer be able to use an expired Certificate of Sponsorship when you apply for a visa.

You can attend a Visa Application Centre in another country if the centre(s) in your home country is/are closed. This concession has been extended to 30 June 2021. 

Replacement entry clearance vignettes are no longer free of charge - the cost is £154. Having said that, they are being issued with a 90 day validity period, instead of 30 days. The Home Office advises that you should not apply for entry clearance, or for a replacement vignette, unless you are confident you can travel to the UK.

Visitor visa applications from countries on the 'red list' may be delayed until suspension of travel is removed.

Staff already living in the UK

If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain but have been outside the UK for more than 2 years and unable to return as a result of covid-related travel restrictions, you can apply under the "Returning Resident" visa route​ to return to the UK on a permanent basis.

If you have not yet applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain and are concerned about exceeding the 180 day absence limit from the UK during your 5 year qualifying period, the Immigration Rules now allow absences relating to "travel disruption due to natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic" (Immigration Rules Appendix Continuous Residence CR 2.3) to be discounted from the 180 day limit. It is strongly recommended that you keep evidence of the reason, for example evidence of any travel bans in specific countries, closures of visa application centres and evidence of illness and/or caring for family members who are unwell.​

If you need to extend your permission but are overseas and unable to return to the UK to submit the application, you may be able to apply online where you are if:

  • you left the UK before 17 March 2020, and
  • your permission expired while you are overseas and, as a result of covid-19 travel restrictions, you were unable to return to the UK before its expiry, and
  • you plan to return to the UK once you receive confirmation you are eligible by UKVI - you should give UKVI at least 21 calendar days' notice of the proposed date of travel unless either:
    • you cannot travel because travel restrictions remain in place;
    • you choose not to travel due to a COVID-19 risk to yourself or your family, for example, showing symptoms, a requirement to self-isolate or being high-risk and unable to travel.

Right to work checks

The Home Office has confirmed that we will need to re-start in-person right to work checks for some staff from 21 June 2021.  We are reviewing how to manage this, and will confirm further details in due course.

24 March 2021

- Exceptional assurance

'Exceptional assurance' has now been extended to all visas expiring before 30 June 2021. If you already have exceptional assurance, you'll need to reapply if it expires before then or if your circumstances have changed.

See gov.uk for more information. 

22 March 2021

- Exceptional assurance

The Home Office's 'Exceptional assurance' arrangement has been extended to all visas expiring before 30 April 2021. If you already have exceptional assurance, you'll need to reapply if it expires before then or if your circumstances have changed.

See gov.uk for more information. 

8 March 2021

- Leaving the Common Travel Area from England

From today, most people travelling to a country outside the Common Travel Area (the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Ireland) from England will need to complete a Declaration form for international travel. If you try to travel without this, you will be committing a criminal offence for which you could be fined. There are exemptions for certain jobs/conditions.

There are limited situations where travel is allowed, but the traveller must still complete a declaration form.

Dates for your diary: Monday 8 – Sunday 14 March

Not actually an update from UK Visas and Immigration, but we wanted to make you aware that Leeds University Union have arranged World Unite Festival 2021, a week-long festival of intercultural activities, performances and taster sessions that celebrate our diverse global community. It's for students and staff, and some events are already listed with more to come.

Visit the LUU website for more information on this year's event. You can also read about the event's background and the types of activity we've previously offered on Medium.

All staff are very welcome, so please do share this with your colleagues! 

3 March 2021

- Coronavirus 'exceptional assurance'

The Home Office has updated its information on exceptional assurance, extending the provision to visas expiring on or before 31 March 2021. Visit gov.uk for more details.

- UK NARIC services

Due to the UK leaving the European Union, the UK NARIC national agency function is now UK ENIC managed by Ecctis. The services offered have not changed - if you have a qualification taught/researched overseas and you need certification that it is equivalent to a UK qualification and/or you need certification that your PhD is eligible for PhD points under the Skilled Worker Visa immigration route, please use the Ecctis Visas and Nationality Service. If already have a UK NARIC account, you can use this to log into Ecctis.

- Global Talent Visa: 'academic and research appointments' path

We have received the following clarifications (additional guidance in italic text):

A significant function of the applicant's role must be:

a) responsibility for academic, research or innovation leadership and development in a leadership role at a departmental, faculty or institutional level (typical duties may include strategy development and delivery, and overseeing management of staff/resources)

b) directing/leading an individual or team, which requires them to act independently and without supervision, in a research or innovation project or programme of work (this is likely to mean that entry level postdoc research positions will not be eligible).

24 February 2020

- New style Biometric Residence Permit

If you've received a BRP recently, you may notice that the design has changed. No notification has been received from the Home Office, but it looks like the differences are as follows:

  • It's a different colour/design
  • "Place and date of issue" has been removed
  • The holder's signature is no longer used
  • The biometric chip is hidden​

- Rules for lockdown in England 

The UK Prime Minister announced a 'roadmap' for getting out of the current lockdown situation. There are several key dates when, all being well, changes will be introduced. At the moment, England is still in a national lockdown. You must stay at home, leaving only where permitted by law, and follow the rules in the guidance. 

In brief, the following changes are scheduled for 8 March 2021:

  • We will be able to socialise outdoors with one other person, or with our household or support bubble.
  • Schools and further education colleges will reopen for all students.
  • Childcare will be available.
  • Students on practical Higher Education courses at English universities will be able to return if they have not already only if they would not be able to complete their course if they did not return.
  • International travel will still be restricted and anyone wishing to leave the UK will need to complete an outbound declaration of travel form before leaving (holidays will still not be a reason to leave the UK).
  • Regular indoor visits with someone in a care home will be allowed for a single named visitor.

The Clinically Extremely Vulnerable are advised not to attend work, school or education until 31 March.

You can find more information on gov.uk.

12 February 2021

- Hotel quarantine for arrivals in the UK from countries on the 'red list' (banned travel)

The details of the hotel quarantine scheme for arrivals in England have now been announced.

The only people allowed to enter the UK from countries on the UK government's 'red list' will be British and Irish nationals, and those with residence rights in the UK (which currently includes entry clearance and permission to stay). Importantly, the list does not refer to your nationality, but to a country/countries you have visited or passed through in the 10 days before your arrival in England - everyone entering England from the relevant countries must quarantine for 10 days in a quarantine hotel.

Please see the gov.uk page on hotel quarantine for details of how to book, cost, which ports you can arrive in, what you need to do before you travel and what you'll be allowed to do during your 10 day quarantine period.

- Travelling to the UK from a country which is not on the 'red list'

If you are entering the UK from a country which is not on the 'red list', you'll still need to quarantine but you can do this in a location of your choosing.  Please see gov.uk's How to quarantine when you arrive in England which tells you what you will need to do before you travel, and how and where to quarantine.

- Unauthorised migrants can get the coronavirus vaccine

The Home Office has confirmed that "Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to everyone living in the UK free of charge, regardless of immigration status." Treatment for coronavirus is also available to unauthorised/undocumented migrants.  

- EU Settlement Scheme FAQs 

The Free Movement website has produced an article giving the six most frequently asked questions about the EU Settlement Scheme, along with answers:

  1. What if… I don’t have an identity document?
  2. What if… I don’t have evidence of residence?
  3. What if… some of my documents are not in English?
  4. What if… I was outside the UK for more than six months?
  5. What if… I was stuck abroad due to COVID-19?
  6. What if… I already have a UK residence card?

10 February 2021

- New quarantine requirements from Monday 15th February

From 15 February, anyone entering the UK from a country with a travel ban to the UK must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

Visit gov.uk to check which countries are on the travel ban list (note: this changes regularly)

View the Home Office announcement on quarantine - exact details, such as which 'facilities' will be used and how to book, are due to be published on Thursday 11 February.

- Information for indefinite leave holders

Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) / Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK expires after 2 years' absence.

The Home Office has announced updated guidance in light of the pandemic for people who find themselves in this situation.

In short, you will need to complete the online Returning Resident application form and pay the fee (which will be refunded) to get back into the UK and resume your ILE/ILR.

Please see the section titled "If you’ve remained outside the UK for over 2 years and due to coronavirus travel restrictions your indefinite leave has lapsed" on gov.uk for more information.

- New requirement for some STEM jobs

The Home Office has confirmed that the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) will be expanded to cover research staff in certain roles as well as research students. From 21 May 2021, research staff in relevant areas of research will need to hold an ATAS certificate when they apply for a Skilled Worker or Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange (T5) visa. 

The ATAS scheme is designed to protect UK research from exploitation and from inadvertently supporting the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) or advanced conventional weapon technologies. ATAS provides vetting to ensure that universities don't inadvertently support foreign military programmes of concern.

The relevant subject areas are listed in Appendix ATAS of the Immigration Rules​ and are broadly in the areas of medicine, biological sciences, veterinary and agricultural sciences, ​physical sciences, mathematics and computer sciences, engineering and technologies. Applicants will be able to check if they need an ATAS certificate on gov.uk.

Please also check Appendix ATAS of the Immigration Rules​ to see a list of nationalities which are exempt from requiring an ATAS certificate.

- International staff content on the HR website

We are updating the content on our website for international colleagues and prospective colleagues. This is an ongoing piece of work, and so far the following information is available from the link above:

  • Support for international colleagues
  • Events
  • UK Visas and Immigration news
  • Information for EEA/Swiss citizens post-Brexit
  • News archive - immigration
  • Focus on visas - Global Talent Visa
  • Focus on visas - Visitor visa

We also have separate pages on:

We have also updated our guidance for managers on employing overseas nationals and the UK's immigration system from 2021.

Please do share this information with colleagues who you think would be interested. 

3 February 2021 

- Border restrictions (England)

​New measures were announced last week.

Travel out of the UK:

  • anyone trying to leave the UK will need a valid reason to travel (this will be checked) - it is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes
  • there'll be an increased police presence at ports and airports, fining those in breach of the stay at home regulations

Seeking to enter the UK:

  • travel from some countries into the UK is banned (note: a travel ban is in place even if someone's ju​st transited through an affected country)
  • those permitted to enter must (a) have a negative covid test within the 3 days before travel (with results in English, French or Spanish) and (b) complete a passenger locator form and (c) self-isolate for 10 days on arrival, even with a negative covid test (or 5 days if they have a negative test through the Test to Release scheme)
  • where the UK has introduced a travel ban, nationals who cannot be refused entry will have to self-isolate in a hotel
  • police will carry out more physical checks at addresses to make sure people are self-isolating

- Visit visas to the UK

Guidance for those wanting to come to the UK on a Visitor visa has been updated in line with border restrictions. Applications from countries where a travel ban is in place will be delayed, and visas will only be issued when suspension of travel is lifted.

If you need to travel urgently for compassionate reasons, you can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre (CIH) for guidance.  The email subject should be ‘Visitor Visa – Urgent Travel Request’, it must be in English andyou must provide your name, date of birth and full details of your circumstances.

Applications for visas for work, study or residence in the UK continue to be accepted from all locations but you  must comply with UK border measures.

- ​Tier 4/Student visa holders switching into Skilled Worker Visa immigration route

You should be aware that you will not automatically meet the English language requirement for a Skilled Worker visa if you hold a Tier 4 or Student visa. However, this is easily assessed:

1. Are you exempt?

  • Yes: this does not apply to you.
  • No: go to 2.

2: Have you completed the qualification you were studying under Tier 4?

  • Yes: you can rely on this UK taught qualification
  • No: to go 3.

3. Did you provide evidence of meeting the English language requirement when applying for your Tier 4 visa?

  • Yes: you can rely on having provided evidence with a previous visa application 
  • No (as your Tier 4 sponsor confirmed your English and you did not have to provide evidence): go to 4.

4. You will need to evidence how you meet the English language requirement - see gov.uk for how to do this.

- Submitting your biometric information for a visa application in the UK

The Home Office has clarified that, once you have submitted a visa application, you must attend a UKVCAS appointment to submit your biometrics within 240 days (7-8 months).

If you do not, your application will be closed, and you will need to reapply.

- Biometric Residence Permit delays

The Home Office has confirmed that it is aware that there are serious delays with BRPs at the moment, and significant delays in answering enquiries from customers on those delays.  It is currently taking them up to 40 days to respond, working through enquiries in date order. They have offered the following guidance:

Right to work

If you need to prove your right to work and do not have a BRP, the University can apply to the Employer Checking Service to confirm your status.

Right to rent

Similarly, landlords can apply to the Landlord Checking Service.

National Insurance Numbers

NI numbers continue to be added to the back of BRPs. If you need to know your National Insurance Number before you receive your BRP, you can contact the Department for Work and Pensions. 

Registering with a GP/accessing NHS services

BRPs aren't required to register with a GP.

Emergency healthcare is free and available for everyone. For secondary healthcare, you can ask the NHS to contact Status Verification, Enquiries and Checking (SVEC) at the Home Office. Find out more about NHS access on the NHS website.

Opening a bank account

The Home Office says a BRP shouldn't be required. However, this is at each bank's discretion.

Travel

Under current UK Covid-19 restrictions, non-essential travel, including abroad, is not permitted unless there's a legally permitted reason to do so.  

If someone travels/leaves the UK without their BRP, they'll need to apply for a single-entry visa to return to the UK. This costs £154 and is not refundable by the Home Office or reimbursable by the University (unless we have obliged you to travel on University business).

Remember that, if you have applied for a visa but have not yet received a decision, the Home Office will withdraw your application if you travel outside the Common Travel Area (the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Ireland). 

- Necessary travel to Europe

If you need to travel to Europe, gov.uk has a helpful list of things you might need to consider. This includes information on passports, travel insurance, driving etc.

There is a second page which lists additional considerations for business travellers such as entry requirements and earning money in the EU.

8 January 2021

Happy new year, colleagues! Unfortunately there has been no rest for the Home Office, so there has been quite a lot of activity over the Christmas break.  There were two particularly wide-ranging changes which came into effect on 1 January 2021:

1. End of free movement with the European Union

A very warm welcome to new EEA/Swiss colleagues to the UK immigration system. If you are coming to the UK in 2021 and beyond to work, you will need to apply for permission before you travel (see Skilled Worker Visa section below).

If you were living in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you don't need a visa, but you do need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled or settled status. As long as we have a copy of your passport, you don't need this to continue to work for us, but you will need it to continue to access UK benefits and services like the NHS. The deadline for you to apply is 30 June 2021. 

2. Skilled Worker Visa

This new immigration route replaced Tier 2 (General) as the route for skilled overseas nationals coming to be employed in the UK. It is more flexible than Tier 2 but, with that flexibility, also comes complexity. However, we are getting to grips with it. You will need sponsorship from the University to be able to apply for the visa, and your school/institute will arrange this.

If you are an existing colleague with a Tier 2 visa, you will not need to do anything until your existing permission to stay is due to expire - at that time, you could apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if you are eligible, or we will need to make sure you are eligible to extend your Tier 2 visa under the Skilled Worker route. Unlike Tier 2, the new route has no time limit on residence so, if you cannot apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, there is an option to extend your Skilled Worker Visa for as long as you need to. 

- Existing visa holders who are already in the UK and starting a new job at Leeds

Covid adjusted rules have been in place allowing you to start work for a new sponsor/employer as soon as you were able to provide evidence that you had submitted your visa application. These rules now only apply to Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned before 1 January 2021.

If your CoS has been assigned to you since then, you will not be able to start work at Leeds until you receive your new Biometric Residence Permit and can provide this to us.

- Switching between immigration routes in the UK

The temporary concession allowing people to switch in the UK to a visa for which they would normally need to apply overseas has now ended. In particular, it is no longer possible to switch from a visitor visa to any other kind of permission while in the UK

- Absence from the UK if you have pre-settled status

If you are overseas at the moment and have been for more than 6 months, you may have lost your right to 'upgrade' to settled status after 5 years residence in the UK. The only exception is for "an important reason" - in relation to the pandemic, this is where the Home Office considers that you are/have been forced to remain outside the UK due to travel restrictions, quarantine or COVID-19 related health complications. Unfortunately, this does not cover you choosing to remain overseas for economic reasons, to be closer to your family members or because you considered the risk to your health to be greater in the UK than in another country. 

If you are in this situation you will be able to return to, and remain in, the UK until your pre-settled status expires. If you are unable to upgrade to settled status, you may be eligible for a visa.  If you have any concerns, please contact us.

- UKVCAS centres 

If you have an appointment at a UKVCAS centre in the UK, please rest assured that the centres "are considered an essential public service and will continue to operate safely under local and national restrictions."  

- Home Office updates to existing information

The following gov.uk pages have been updated recently:

- UK NARIC Visas and Nationality Service

UK NARIC, which allows visa applicants to use their non-UK qualifications to meet visa requirements, has changed its services to meet the needs of the new immigration system. They now offer 3 services under their Visas and Nationality umbrella:

Visas and Nationality (English proficiency)

This service is for qualifications which were taught overseas, but in English, to demonstrate the level of the qualification and English proficiency for a UK visa application. Assessments will normally be completed with 10 working days of receipt of documents and payment, though fast-track services are available.

Visas and Nationality (PhD verification)

This service allows verification of an overseas PhD to qualify for tradeable points for the Skilled Worker route. To be able to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to someone who is relying on having a relevant PhD to gain 70 points for a Skilled Worker Visa, we need to supply the UK NARIC reference number on a CoS application so this must be provided before we can issue a CoS. Assessments will normally be completed with 30 working days of receipt of documents and payment.

Visas and Nationality (PhD verification with English proficiency)

This is a combination of the above 2 services. Assessments will normally be completed with 30 working days of receipt of documents and payment.

- Our immigration reimbursement and interest-free loan schemes

We have now updated these to include Skilled Worker Visa costs. The loan scheme can also be used by existing employees to apply for money in advance of paying for a visa extension, then applying for reimbursement once the application is submitted and repaying the money to the University.

17 December 2020

This is our last update of 2020. Our shared inboxes won't be monitored over the 2 week break, but we will provide an alternative point of contact on our 'out of office' message for emergencies only.

Merry Christmas to all colleagues who celebrate, and our best wishes to everyone for a relaxing break. We look forward to seeing/speaking to you in 2021.​ 

If you're in the UK

- Longer term extension to permission to stay

You can currently switch to a longer term visa (for example Skilled Worker Visa) in the UK rather than having to apply from overseas as you might need to do in normal times.  You will need to meet the requirements of the route you are apply for (including, from 1 January 2021, the rules relating to the visa types you can switch from in the UK), and the terms of your permission in the UK will remain the same until you get a decision.  You can also apply for a longer term visa if you have exceptional assurance.

You need to show your application is urgent, for example explaining in a covering letter with your application that you are starting a new job or course of study.

- Short term extension to permission to stay

Arrangements for requesting ‘exceptional assurance’ for those intending to leave the UK, but unable to do so, have been extended to apply to visas expiring up to 31 January 2021.  You can apply using the process outlined by the Home Office.

If you have applied for exceptional assurance already, but have not yet had a decision, you do not need to apply again or chase the application.  If you already have exceptional assurance, and it expires before 31 January, you can apply to extend it as above, stating clearly that you are making a subsequent application.

- Starting work if your Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”) was assigned on or after 1 January 2021

If you’re already in the UK and your CoS from us was assigned before 1 January 2021, you can start work as soon as you can give us evidence that you’ve submitted your visa application.

However, if your CoS is assigned on or after 1 January 2021 (when we email the CoS to you, we’ll tell you what date it was assigned), then you won’t be able to start work for us until you can show us evidence that your visa application has been granted.

- Christmas in the UK

Not sure what the rules are over Christmas?  The Home Office is keeping their webpage up to date.

If you're outside the UK

- 30/90 day entry vignettes

If your 30 or 90 day entry vignette has expired, you can apply for a replacement by completing an online form.  The cost is £154 and you will need to re-submit your biometric information.

Until 31 December 2020, replacement of a 30 day vignette is free. You can arrange a replacement by following the instructions on gov.uk (under “If your 30 day or 90 day visa vignette to work, study or join family has expired”).

- Priority and Super Priority Services

These services are now available in some locations.  If they are available for your visa application, you will be able to purchase the services when you book your Visa Application Centre (“VAC”) appointment.

- Requirement to self-isolate on entry into the UK

This requirement has now been reduced from 14 days to 10 days.  

The guidance also gives details of the new “Test to Release for International Travel” scheme – if you are only allowed to leave self-isolation for work-related activities in England, you can choose to take a coronavirus test under the Test to Release scheme. If you test negative you would be able to end your self-isolation.

- Visiting the UK from 1 January 2021

The Home Office has updated its guidance on what you will need to do before you come to the UK, and while you are here.

- Applying for your visa

If your VAC is closed due to coronavirus restrictions, you can apply online and select a VAC in another country (bear in mind you will need to be allowed to enter that country).  This concession is now valid until 31 March 2021.

- English language requirement

If you are 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 could not travel to it due to coronavirus when you applied.

Other news

- Global Talent Visa applications

If your endorsement has expired and you have not been able to apply for a visa because of coronavirus restrictions, your endorsement will remain valid if:

  1. it was granted on or after 24 January 2020, and
  2. you apply for your visa before 1 January 2021

The Home Office will consider applications that do not meet these requirements on a case by case basis.

Impact of coronavirus – EU Settlement Scheme, Turkish workers/business people and 

The Home Office has produced new webpages of advice:

They cover such subjects as the effect on permitted absences from the UK, furlough and alternative evidence for applications.

- UK nationals – travelling to Europe with your pet from 1 January 2021

We now have confirmation that the UK will become a “Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme” from 1 January, and current EU pet passports will no longer be valid.  Check the webpage to see what you’ll need to do before travelling with your ferret, cat or dog (including assistance dogs).

28 November 2020

- New immigration route for skilled workers

You may be aware that the current route for skilled workers to get permission to work in the UK, Tier 2 (General), will close to new applications on Monday 30 November and the new route, Skilled Worker, will open to applicants on 1 December. We'll be circulating some information to existing Tier 2 visa holders early next week on how it will affect you (in the short term, it won't).

The new route will also be open to applications from EEA and Swiss nationals who won't be resident in the UK before 31 December 2020, and who will therefore need a visa to work in the UK. EEA/Swiss nationals who live in the UK before 31 December 2020, and their family members, are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

- UKVI updates

UKVI has announced that the Immigration Health Surcharge portal will be closed between 11am and 2pm on Monday 30 November, meaning that visa applicants won't be able to complete an application during this time.

In further news, from 1 December there'll be a single customer contact centre number for all customer queries made within the UK and overseas - 0300 790 6268 (or 0044 300 790 6268 from overseas). You'll still have the option of 8 languages, and the core service hours and charges won't change. 

- Entering the UK

The 14 day self-isolation requirement remains in place for those who are not exempt (exemptions are only for nationals of countries in a 'travel corridor' with the UK, and for certain occupations). However, under new rules from 15 December you may be able to pay for a COVID-19 test to find out if you can reduce your self-isolation period after international travel.

5 November 2020

- Support information

UKVI now has a page which details support you can get during the pandemic if you don't have permission to live permanently in the UK.  This includes information on medical treatment, state benefits, help with housing costs and information for asylum seekers.

- 'Exceptional assurance' for those unable to leave the UK - visas expiring 1 November 2020 to 30 November 2020

If you intend to leave the UK but haven't been able to do so and your visa expires between 1 November and 30 November 2020, you can request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by completing an online form. You'll need to provide proof (UKVI will tell you what's suitable for this) and, if it's granted, your right to work/study/rent will continue.

If you've already completed the form, but haven't yet had a response, there's no need to chase - UKVI will be in touch with you and, until you hear from them, you won't be classed as an overstayer and there'll be no impact on any future UK immigration applications you make.

If you've already received 'exceptional assurance' but your circumstances have changed or you can't leave the UK by the date UKVI gave you, you must reapply, clearly stating that you're making a subsequent application. 

- Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) which expire on 31 December 2024 

If your permission to stay in the UK continues into 2025 but your BRP expires on 31 December 2024, that's not a mistake. New security measures for BRPs will be introduced in 2025 but these aren't available yet.  UKVI has confirmed that you don't need to do anything at the moment, they'll provide information on how to update your BRP in early 2024.

If there are any mistakes on your BRP, you should report these within 10 days of receiving it. 

- New immigration system from 1 January 2021

There are two major changes to the UK's immigration system from 1 January 2021:

  1. a new immigration route, Skilled Worker, which will replace Tier 2 (General); and
  2. the inclusion of EEA/Swiss nationals in the immigration system.

More information will be available soon but:

  • If you're an EEA/Swiss national who's already resident in the UK, or will be resident by the end of 2020, this won't apply to you as you'll be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline to apply is 30 June 2021, though we'd suggest applying earlier rather than later. Important: all EEA/Swiss nationals need to apply, even if you've been here for many years and/or you already have a Permanent Residence card.
  • If you're an EEA/Swiss national who'll be moving to the UK in 2021, we'll be in touch shortly to discuss your options. If you can move to the UK before the end of 2020, we'd strongly encourage this - the EU Settlement Scheme is straightforward and free to apply; a Skilled Worker visa has strict eligibility requirements and, with the requirement to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (currently £624 per person per year of the visa), it may cost you several thousand pounds.
  • If you're currently in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa, you don't need to do anything at the moment. You'll remain on Tier 2 until your current BRP expires, when you'll need to apply for an extension under the Skilled Worker route, or switch into another immigration route.
  • If you're moving to the UK and need a sponsored visa, your application would be reviewed under Tier 2 (General) rules if you submit it before 9am on 1 December 2020 and you'd be granted a Tier 2 visa; after that, Skilled Worker rules are applicable, and you'd be granted a Skilled Worker visa.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact immigration@leeds.ac.uk.

7 October 2020

UKVI has developed some information pages on the steps involved in applying for a visa which may be useful for new applicants and those applying to switch/extend in the UK:

The European Union has a useful document on what you need to know as a non-EU family member of an EU citizen in post-Brexit UK. Amongst other information, it covers what actions you'll need to take, and who's covered under the EU Settlement Scheme.

4 September 2020

- If your visa is expires between 1 September and 31 October 2020

If your visa expires between the above dates, and you weren't planning to stay in the UK but are struggling to leave, you can ask the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre for additional time in the UK (known as 'exceptional assurance'). If this is granted, it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave to remain has expired. If you've already completed the form, you don't have to do so again.

- Reuse of biometric information by UKVI

UKVI has produced guidance for its staff on when they can reuse your biometric details for an extension application or application to switch to another immigration route in the UK:

  • biometrics must have been enrolled post July 2015 or the applicant must already hold a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  • the new grant of leave must not exceed a period beyond 5 years from when the fingerprints were last enrolled
  • facial image must not be over 5 years old for persons aged over 16 and must not be over 2 years old for persons aged under 16

Further information is available on gov.uk.

- Information on working in the UK after 1 January 2021 for frontier workers

You're classed as a frontier worker if you're an EEA/Swiss national and you regularly commute to the UK because you're employed or self-employed here but live elsewhere. There are certain situations where you can keep your status while not working - these are explained on gov.uk.

The webpage also states that you'll need to apply for a frontier worker permit - we'll let you know as soon as there's any information on this new visa type.

- Applying for a visa if you're overseas and your Visa Application Centre is closed

Until at least 30 November 2020, you can attend a VAC anywhere in the world if there isn't one which is open in your home country, as long as you have the right to be in the other country. You’ll be able to make any type of application, but at the start of your application you must select the country where you'll submit your biometrics. 

Visit the immigration news archive page for older news.