Employment and Immigration Law Update – Immigration Update May 2020
29 May 2020
Read on for an update on the extension of the Coronavirus concessions, IHS exemptions and public funds.
Coronavirus concessions extended
We previously reported on two different concessions from the Home Office, to help migrants whose visa was expiring before 31 May 2020. Those concessions have now been extended until 31 July 2020.
This means that if your visa is expiring, but you cannot leave the UK because of coronavirus, for example due to travel restrictions in your home country, you can request an extension until 31 July 2020, to avoid becoming an overstayer. The latest guidance makes it clear that you will be expected to return to your home country “as soon as it is safe and possible to do so”. If you have already been granted an extension until 31 May 2020, you will not have to apply again and the extension will be automatically increased until 31 July 2021.
The concession regarding switching has also been extended until 31 July 2020. This helps migrants who want to apply for a new long term visa, but would normally have to leave the UK in order to apply. For example Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa holders or PBS Dependants who wish to switch to Tier 2. If your visa expires before 31 July 2020 you can now apply to switch in the UK, subject to meeting all the other requirements for the new visa.
For further details please see our April update.
Despite repeatedly saying that it was essential for all migrants to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), Boris Johnson has now asked the Home Secretary and Health Secretary to work together to find a way of exempting NHS and care workers from paying the IHS “as soon as possible”.
As the IHS will be increasing to £624 per year of the visa from October this will be of significant help to this group of migrants who are often poorly paid for the key work they are doing. The Prime Minister’s decision was apparently influenced by his experience of being cared for by migrant workers whilst he was suffering with COVID-19.
No recourse to public funds
Last month we reported on the support available for migrants and the challenges faced by those who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). As the COVID-19 crisis develops, this issue is becoming even more pertinent.
This month the High Court considered a case where an individual faced with destitution had been told their visa was subject to NRPF. They ruled that the current NRPF regime “does not adequately recognise, reflect or give effect to the Secretary of State’s obligation not to impose, or to lift, the condition of NRPF in cases where the applicant is not yet, but will imminently suffer inhuman or degrading treatment without recourse to public funds.” As such it breached Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and was unlawful.
This means that the NRPF policy should be changed to ensure that those who are at risk of destitution are able to access public funds, either when they apply for a new visa or apply to have their conditions changed. However, those who bought the case are unsure to what extent this will change things in practice.
When told about a migrant facing destitution due to the current pandemic, the Prime Minister’s response was that they should use Universal Credit. It had to be carefully explained to him that their visa conditions did not permit this. We can but hope that he shows the same interest in this issue, as he did in the immigration health surcharge payable by NHS and care workers.
This article is from the May 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact a member of Birketts’ Immigration Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at May 2020.