Immigration Monthly Update – November 2022
23 November 2022
Reduction in BRP replacement fee
On 9 November 2022, the Home Office released its updated list of fees for immigration and nationality applications. As expected, all the fees remained unchanged, except for the cost of Replacement Biometric Residence Cards (BRPs), which was reduced by £37. The cost to replace a BRP card was previously £56, and has now been reduced to £19, this is definitely a welcome change!
Visa Processing times
The Home Office has updated its processing times guidance. It has advised that the revised processing times is due to the continuing war in Ukraine and high global demand for visas. For example, although a Skilled Worker visa would usually be decided on within eight weeks, it is currently taking an average of 16 weeks to get a decision for in-country Skilled Worker or Health and Care Worker visas.
The UKVI is working hard to reduce the extended waiting times, advising that it aims to reduce processing times back within the eight week service standards for Skilled Worker visa and three week service standards for Health and Care visas by the end of the year.
The Home Office stress that individuals should factor in the significant delays to processing times when making an in-country application as individuals are unable to leave the UK once their application is submitted and until they have received a decision or a new BRP card, otherwise their application will be withdrawn.
The Home Office has advised that out of country visit visa processing times have reduced from seven weeks to six weeks.
The Home Office has updated its guidance to stress that individuals should check their junk/spam folders if they are waiting for a decision letter – this is applicable to both out of country and in country applications.
Individuals and business are reminded also to prepare now for delays in processing times as we approach the festive period and to upgrade to premium services if required. The Home Office won’t accept liability for missed travel or interruption to Christmas plans.
UKVI Digital BRP Letters
The Home Office has recently announced that the UKVI has streamlined parts of the BRP process for individuals making entry clearance applications (applying for visas outside of the UK) with a duration of more than six months.
From 10 October 2022, BRP letters are now issued via e-mail only. Individuals will no longer collect a physical letter at the Visa Application Centre. Therefore, it is important that individuals use their own personal, up-to-date email address, or one that is easily accessible when completing their visa application.
This is part of the Home Office’s ongoing transformation to a digital enabled process.
Offshore wind workers Immigration Rules concession 2017
In 2017, the Home Secretary granted a concession outside of the Immigration Rules to foreign national workers essential to the construction and maintenance of offshore wind projects in UK territorial waters.
On 31 October 2022, the Home Office announced a welcome extension to this concession, until 30 April 2023. This extension offers industries and businesses time to make necessary changes to fully comply with the UK immigration system. The Home Office however confirmed that this concession will not be renewed beyond this date.
High Potential Individual visa: Global Universities List 2022
The Home Office added three additional Universities to the 2022 High Potential Individual visa Global Universities List. The list now includes the following:
- Technical University of Munich – Germany
- University of Queensland (UQ) – Australia
- Zhejiang University – China
Non-visa National Status for Colombia, Guyana and Peru
From 9 November 2022, citizens of Colombia, Guyana and Peru can now benefit from non-visa nationals status and so can seek entry as a Visitor to the UK without needing to obtain a visit visa before travelling to the UK.
However, it is important to note that non-visa nationals could be subject to examination by an immigration officer and will be granted entry on arrival. Therefore, non-visa nationals must still satisfy the Visitor Entry Requirements, and should be prepared to explain the purpose of their visit, how they will be maintained and accommodated in the UK and details of their return travel arrangements.
The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC 719 Explanatory Memorandum confirms that this change has been introduced with the aim of improving trade, diplomatic relations and tourism.
Amendments to evidential requirements for Arts and Culture and Digital Technology endorsements for Global Talent applications
From 9 November 2022, Global Talent applicants applying for an Arts and Culture endorsement by Arts Council England will need to provide three letters of support from organisations and/or individuals who have directly worked with them and can comment on their skills through personal experience as opposed to through reputation.
Additionally, from 9 November 2022, Global Talent applicants applying for a Digital Technology endorsement by Tech National will need to provide three letters of support from three different well-established organisations who are acknowledged as experts in the digital technology field with detailed knowledge of the applicant’s work over the last 12-month period.
Amendment to Ukraine Extension Scheme
On 9 November 2022, the Home Office extended the Ukraine Extension Scheme to allow Ukrainian nationals who obtained permission to enter or stay in the UK between 18 March 2022 and 16 May 2023 to apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme and obtain 36 months permission to stay in the UK.
Additionally, the Home Office has now introduced a deadline of 19 November 2023 for Ukrainians to apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme.
Amendment to Hong Kong British National (Overseas) route
From 9 November 2022, adult children of British National (Overseas) holders can apply to the British National (Overseas) route independently along with their partners, dependent children and adult dependent relatives.
An end to Exceptional Assurance COVID-19 concessions
During the pandemic, the Home Office had previously introduced a system of ‘Exceptional Assurance’ for individuals who found themselves unable to return to their home countries due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Exceptional Assurance status gave individuals the security of knowing that they were not overstaying in the UK illegally if they were otherwise unable to make arrangements to leave the UK.
Following a general global return to travel as usual, the Home Office has now announced that the scheme will formally close on 30 November 2022.
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 November 2022.