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Immigration update: November 2021

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This month we take a look at the key immigration events that affect businesses, professionals, entrepreneurs and their family members and some of the most topical questions that we are being asked.

Key UK Immigration Events for November 2021

EU lockdowns restrict travel

Austria has suspended visits from overseas until 13 December 2021 as the country goes into a national lockdown in response to rising Covid19 infection levels. Non-essential trips to Germany are permitted only for those who are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated travellers are also able to travel to the Netherlands, however the country has entered into a three-week lockdown with non-essential retail and services closed. Visitors from the UK to Belgium have been added to Belgium’s ‘red list’ meaning that only the fully vaccinated are permitted to enter and quarantine is mandatory until cleared to be released by a negative Covid19 test. Similar requirements to be fully vaccinated prior to travel and to test upon entry to the country are in place for other European countries such as Italy and Switzerland. 

UK’s HGV scheme fails to address shortage of drivers

Last month we wrote about the government’s scheme to offer haulage companies a route to employ HGV drivers from overseas for a limited period of time. As of the middle of November, only nine endorsement letters had been issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy out of a potential 300. Professionals in the UK haulage industry have explained that drivers from Europe have been put off by the government’s insistence that all drivers leave the UK by the end of March 2022. Since there are also HGV driver shortages in mainland Europe, the demand for drivers is high within the EU and there has been little incentive for drivers to work in the UK for a short period of time. 

Australia partially opens borders

Fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible visa holders can travel to and from Australia without needing to apply for travel exemption. Travellers returning to New South Wales, Victoria or the Australian Capital Territory no longer need to quarantine upon arrival. From 1 December 2021, full vaccinated eligible visa holders, including Temporary Work and Working Holiday Maker visa holders can travel to Australia without having to apply for a travel exemption. 

House of Commons debates e-petition asking for a visa-free work permit for touring professionals and artists

Following the end of free movement between the UK and the EU as a result of Brexit, touring artists such as musicians, stage performers and exhibiting artists have been restricted by domestic immigration restrictions. The Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez, contributed to the debate by stating that a visa waiver for touring musicians to the UK is not viable and that whilst the UK/EU Trade Cooperation Agreement didn’t allow for visa-free travel of visitors on paid engagements, progress had been made on a state-by-state basis. The Spanish government announced short-term visas for touring artists following talks between the two countries. 

Update to policy on Continuous Residence rules

Any visa-holders making an application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK will be subject to a requirement to have been continuously resident in the UK i.e. having lawful permission to be in the UK for the required amount of time and not being absent from the UK for more than a specified period during that time. The Home Office’s latest guidance adds exceptions for those who may have overstayed a UK visa during the UK’s initial lockdown and examples of when absences can be permitted owing to work-related overseas research or attending overseas close relatives with ‘life-threatening’ illnesses. 

Key Questions:

Here are a few of the questions that our clients have been asking us this month:

What do we know about the proposals for a Scale Up visa?

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced proposals for a new visa due to commence in Spring 2022. The Scale Up visa is proposed to require a ‘high skill’ job offer from a UK employer and a proposed salary of at least £33,000 per annum. Employers wouldn’t be required to sponsor these workers. To qualify, the employing company would need to demonstrate that they are a ‘scale-up’ by showing a rate of growth of more than 20% over a 3-year period. ‘Growth’ can be in terms of revenue or employment if at the start of the 3-year period the company employed at least 10 people. More details of this visa will likely follow in the new year.

Are there now visas for Au Pairs and Nannies?

The Skilled Worker visa route replaced the Tier 2 (General) visa route and one difference between the two visas is how highly skilled a position is. Whereas formerly job roles had to meet a minimum requirement of being NQF6 of above (degree level or above essentially), the Skilled Worker visa route allows for NQF3 level roles (A-Level and equivalent) and even some roles assessed to be ‘unskilled’. Included in the list of Skilled Worker Occupations is SOC code 6122, ‘Childminders and related occupations’, with related job titles including ‘Nanny’ and ‘Au pair’. This means that this role can be sponsored by a company with a Skilled Worker sponsor licence. However, individuals being sponsored will also need to meet minimum English language and salary requirements. Companies should also be mindful of a high level of scrutiny by the Home Office in assessing whether or not the role is relevant to the company’s particular line of business. 

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