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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update by Immigration Law Team

BY PAUL TURNER – SENIOR PARTNER

LEGAL 500 Recognised Leading Individual

Any person wondering what the Home Office are doing in respect of Immigration in the UK can be visit this link that contains the current policy guidance

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-immigration-and-borders

There is a policy instruction for the following issues

– Coronavirus COVID-19 advice for UK visa-applicants and-temporary UK residents
– Coronavirus COVID-19 advice Landlord right to rent checks
– Coronavirus COVID-19 advice Right to work checks
– Coronavirus COVID-19 advice to Tier 2,4 and 5 visas
– Coronavirus COVID-19 and immigration removal centres

Coronavirus COVID-19 Advice for UK Visa-applicants and Temporary UK Residents

I have already written about this policy and my reservations applying for the automatic extension of leave by email. I advised a client today who could have found himself in difficulty using this procedure. My client is on the 5-year partner route and needs to apply for his extension of leave expiring later this month.

The Immigration Rules provide that in order to obtain an extension of leave on the 5-year route that you must satisfy the maintenance requirements. One of the requirements is to show that you are currently employed and earn a minimum of £18,600 (as he has no non-settled children). Right now, he has two options, a paid application to extend his leave to remain or an email request for an automatic extension of leave until 31 May 2020. Therefore, by making the normal paid application for an extension, he is able to satisfy the rules to be employed and earn £18,600 in the previous 12-months and thus satisfies the rules to be granted an extension on the 5-year route.

Had he not received advice the client would have elected for the simplified option to extend leave automatically by email. However, he would be at risk of having his application refused or being switched to the 10-year route, because by the end of May 2020, he would not meet the immigration criteria with his previous 12-month income, due to the 20% reduction of his salary for being furloughed by his employer. Also, in this environment, there can be no certainty of not being made redundant at a later stage in this pandemic.

I urge all those with limited leave to remain at this time to obtain legal advice from an experienced immigration law practitioner.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Landlord Right to Rent Checks

Right to rent checks have been temporarily adjusted due to coronavirus (COVID-19), to make it easier for landlords to carry them out. As of 30 March 2020, the following temporary changes have been made:

• checks can now be carried out over video calls
• tenants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
• landlords should use the Landlord’s Checking Service if a prospective or existing tenant cannot provide any of the existing documents

I have not yet been instructed to assist any clients with the right to rent scheme but Because of COVID-19, some individuals will be unable to evidence their right to rent. During this period, landlords have been advised by the policy to take extra care to ensure that no-one is discriminated against because they are struggling to evidence their right to rent.

Any landlord or tenant having issues can contact us for assistance and avoid an unlawful eviction or penalty from the Home Office. A documented advice concerning the rights of an immigrant to rent will reduce liability in this difficult time.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Advice to Tier 2,4 and 5 Visas

The UKVI will not take enforcement action against sponsors who continue to sponsor students or employees, despite absences due to coronavirus, and sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus. This can include illness, their need to isolate or inability to travel due to travel restrictions. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship if a student is unable to attend for more than 60 days or for an employee absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks.

Sponsors do not have to notify UKVI if you’re sponsoring employees who are working from home due to coronavirus, but other changes to their working arrangements must still be reported as usual. It is important to ensure full compliance with sponsoring requirements even in this time of pandemic. Any sponsors who are unable to self-audit or have queries concerning the application of this relaxed policy to your circumstances, should make contact with one of our experienced Immigration solicitors.

Coronavirus COVID-19 and Immigration Removal Centres

Immigration Removal Centres are now closed to the public. This means that detainees cannot be visited by family or loved ones. Visits by legal representatives can continue but only in exceptional circumstances and only if no other means of contact can be used instead.

At Barnes Harrild & Dyer we are continuing to submit applications for bail to the Immigration & Asylum Chamber First Tier Tribunal. We have also been busy advising clients on the legality of their detention and we are waiting for responses to pre action letters that have been submitted.

We believe that immigration detention must be used as a last resort and if removal is not imminent, that the use of the power to detain is unlawful. Please email me directly at paul.turner@bhdsolicitors.co.uk if you have a family member current detained under the Immigration Acts for urgent assistance.

How Barnes Harrild & Dyer Solicitors can help

Barnes Harrild & Dyer Solicitors are committed to doing whatever we can to help you in this tricky time and to give you peace of mind. We will continue monitoring the situation closely and providing updated guidance in due course.

Regarding any of the above you can contact me directly at paul.turner@bhdsolicitors.co.uk to arrange a consultation, or you can contact us via the blue contact us boxes above. Barnes Harrild & Dyer continue to provide full legal services during this COVID-19 pandemic.

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