Brexit – 31 January 2020
With the blink of the eye, it’s hard to believe that we’re almost a month into the new decade, and with the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill having completed its course through the Houses of Parliament, Brexit will take place on 31 January 2020 and the UK will leave the EU with an agreement, subject to approval of the European Parliament. It is unlikely that the European Parliament will reject. As such, at 11pm on 31 January 2020 the UK will no longer be a member of the EU, and a transition/ implementation period will last until 31 December 2020 (unless an extension/ other date is agreed) meaning that the UK will still be subject to EU rules while the future trading relationship with the EU is negotiated.
It will therefore be good practice for UK businesses and employers to keep open good communication channels with EEA employees in the workplace, and businesses may wish to consider encouraging relevant employees to submit applications under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021.
Applications for an allocation of Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship (“UCoS”) – 5 April 2020
The Home Office recently started to email registered UK businesses and employers who are Tier 2 sponsor licence holders to remind them to renew their annual allocation of UCoS. Tier 2 sponsor licence holders will likely recall that any unused allocation of UCoS will simply expire at the end of 5 April 2020.
It is recommended that Tier 2 sponsor licence holders apply for a new allocation of UCoS on or before 5 April 2020 for the following tax year (6 April 2020 to 5 April 2021) to avoid any potential delay in the recruitment of eligible sponsored migrants/ application of extension visas.
31 December 2020 and beyond
In theory, 31 December 2020 is the last day of the current UK immigration system being in operation. It’s not entirely clear anymore what the new system might look like. For instance, in December 2018, under Theresa May’s government, the Immigration White Paper was published setting out what the new future immigration system would look like from January 2021. However, the Boris Johnson government seems quite keen to implement an “Australian-style” points based system. It will be interesting to see how any new UK immigration system will interact with the Law Commission’s recent report on Simplifying the Immigration Rules together with the recent announcement of removing the minimum salary threshold of £30,000 for most sponsored Tier 2 (General) migrants. What is clear is that EEA nationals will eventually need to submit visa applications under the same UK immigration system which apply to all other non-EEA nationals such as those from Australia, Canada, India, and the USA.
Other dates/ news
There will no doubt be other dates and changes announced as the year goes on. For instance, there are typically a number of changes made to the UK Immigration Rules throughout each year, with the first usually being around March/ April time. That is obviously not something we have control of. However, some dates which are in the control of UK businesses and employers are when to carry out follow-up right to work checks to help establish a statutory excuse and hopefully avoid being subject to a civil penalty of up to £20,000. We can assist with all matters of business and personal immigration including assisting with right to work checks/ procedures; application for and maintenance of a Tier 2 sponsor licence; and visa applications for individuals across the UK immigration system. If you have any questions and/or would like to subscribe to the immigration newsletter, please do not hesitate to contact Vincent Chung: firstname.lastname@example.org.