Immigration round-up – January 2022
27 January 2022
Changes to the Youth Mobility scheme, the closure of the Norwich visa application centre and the extension of the Agricultural Seasonal Worker scheme and the Health and Care visa scheme plus the re-use of biometric data for in-country visa applications are covered in this immigration round-up.
Changes to the Youth Mobility scheme
Individuals who hold a valid passport from Iceland are now able to apply for a Youth Mobility Visa, effective 1 January 2022. All other eligibility criteria must still be met in order to apply; which, for Iceland nationals, includes an additional requirement to provide a Criminal Certificate for private use.
Similarly, those applying who are nationals of San Marino must provide a letter from the Directorate of Political and Diplomatic Affairs of the Republic of San Marino Department of Foreign Affairs.
Details of the ballot process for applicants under the India Young Professionals scheme are still to be confirmed but looks unlikely to be open before February 2022.
Closure of Norwich visa application centre
Sopra Steria – the third party company that operate biometric enrolment appointments on behalf of the Home Office have recently closed the application centre in Norwich. Applicants are encouraged instead to use the biometric re-use service where eligible (using the new biometric re-enrolment app’ on their mobile phone). Alternatively the nearest alternative centres are Cambridge/Chelmsford. Please speak to your Birketts’ contact in the immigration team for support to find a convenient service.
Agricultural Seasonal Worker scheme has been extended
It was announced on 24 December 2021 that the Seasonal Workers visa scheme has now been extended until the end of 2024 in order to allow foreign workers to come to the UK for up to six months to work in the horticulture sector and pick edible crops, and now for the first time, also ornamental crops (including bulbs, cut flowers and also Christmas trees).
The demand under this visa scheme is set to be high due to challenges in recruiting domestic workers. 30,000 visas will be available in 2022, with this being kept under close review, with potential to further increase this by an additional 10,000 places if deemed necessary.
Health and Care visa scheme expanded
In response to the pressures encountered by the pandemic such as severe staff shortages, the Health and Care visa scheme, which was introduced in August 2020, has been expanded and now care staff and social care workers will be added to the shortage occupation list from February 2022. In addition, from February 2022, the Home Office are expected to introduce further concessions to enable 12 months visa sponsorship for individuals to fill care worker roles (previously it was only possible to sponsor senior care workers under the Skilled Worker route).
This change will make it quicker, cheaper and easier for social care employers to be able to recruit eligible workers to fill in vital gaps in their workplace. Successful applicants will be granted a visa for up to 12 months and will be able to bring their dependents with them.
It is expected that the expansion of the scheme will be in place for at least 12 months in order to help provide support to the care sector dealing with the additional pressures of the pandemic.
Re-use of biometric data for in-country visa applications
As of 14 December 2021, applicants applying for an extension of their visa within the UK under the same visa category or individuals switching between some visa categories from within the UK, will no longer be required to attend a biometric appointment upon submission of their visa application. Instead an ID verification app can be used to certify the biometric data already held by the Home Office.
Eligible applicants will have their application and supporting documents submitted electronically, similar to the process used by EU national applicants who have passports with biometric chips.
This new process will make the visa process cheaper and quicker for applicants and help alleviate the issues encountered at biometric appointments. At the moment this is only rolled out to single applicants and does not currently extend to any dependants.
Start-up visa extra concession
Individuals in the UK who are currently have a Start-up visa are now able to apply for an additional leave of 12 months, allowing their visa to go beyond the normal maximum two year permitted period. This concession is in place until 30 September 2022 and the additional leave will enable them to continue developing their business against their agreed business plan.
Applicants must continue to be endorsed, and their endorsing body must be satisfied that reasonable progress has been made – factoring in the impacts of coronavirus – and provide an endorsement letter
These articles are from the January 2022 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 January 2022.