Month: August 2020

Travelling during COVID-19: Travel corridors

COVID-19 brought a lot of uncertainties to travellers. The change of policy on travel from France and the Netherlands shows that decision on travel restrictions can virtually be made overnight.

In this article, we will explain which travel corridors are currently open and how you can avoid complications while travelling.

What is a travel corridor?

A travel corridor (often referred to as an air bridge) is a reciprocal arrangement between two countries allowing travel without the need to quarantine for 14 days. Those travel corridors are under a constant review by the government and might exclude any country that has seen a rise of coronavirus cases.

The countries currently included in the travel corridor exemption, as listed on the Government website of 14 August 2020, are as follows:

 

  • Akrotiri and Dhekelia
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • Brunei (added 11 August – if you arrived in England from Brunei before 11 August, you will need to self–isolate)
  • Cayman Islands
  • the Channel Islands
  • Croatia
  • Curaçao
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominica
  • Estonia
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • French Polynesia
  • Gibraltar
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Guadeloupe
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • the Isle of Man
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Macao (Macau)
  • Malaysia (added 11 August – if you arrived in England from Malaysia before 11 August, you will need to self–isolate)
  • Mauritius
  • Montserrat
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
  • Poland
  • Reunion
  • San Marino
  • Seychelles
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • St Barthélemy
  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Pierre and Miquelon
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turkey
  • Vatican City State
  • Vietnam

 

 

What if My Time was Split between Countries on the list and not on the list?

If you spent time in a country which is not on the list and go to a country on the list it will depend on the number of days you spent in those countries. For example, if you spent 7 days in a country not on the list and 7 days in a country on the list, you will have to self-isolate in England for 7 days because 7 out of 14 days you spent in an exempt country.

What is Meant by Self-isolation?

Self-isolation effectively means that you cannot leave the place where you are staying in the UK for the first two weeks after arrival. You should (as taken from the Government website):

“not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential care. The only friends and family who you can have contact with are those who travelled with you or people who you are staying with.

You cannot go out to work or school or visit public areas. You should not go shopping. If you require help buying groceries, other shopping, or picking up medication, you should ask friends or relatives or order a delivery.

In England, you must only exercise within your home or garden. You cannot leave your home to walk your dog. You will need to ask friends or relatives to help you with this.

NHS Volunteer Responders are also available if you need help collecting shopping, medication, or would like a telephone ‘check-in and chat’. Call 0808 196 3646 (8 am to 8 pm) to arrange volunteer support. You can arrange one-off support, or schedule more regular help whilst you are self-isolating.

In England, you can only leave your accommodation in limited circumstances. These include where:

  • you need urgent medical assistance (or where your doctor has advised you to get medical assistance)
  • you need access to basic necessities like food and medicines, but only in exceptional circumstances such as where you cannot arrange for these to be delivered
  • you need to access critical public services such as social services and victim support services, but only in exceptional circumstances
  • you need to go to the funeral of a family member or someone you live with
  • you need to visit a dying or critically ill family member or someone you live with
  • you need to fulfil a legal obligation such as participate in legal proceedings
  • there’s an emergency

You are not allowed to change the place where you are self-isolating except in very limited circumstances, including where:

  • a legal obligation requires you to change address, such as where you are a child whose parents live separately, and you need to move between homes as part of a shared custody agreement
  • it is necessary for you to stay overnight at the accommodation before travelling to the place where you will be self-isolating for the remainder of the 14 days
  • there’s an emergency

If this happens, you should provide full details of each address where you will self-isolate on the public health passenger locator form. If in exceptional circumstances, you cannot remain where you are staying, you must update the form as soon as possible”.

Final words

The travel corridors change on a daily basis. We recommend you to frequently check the governmental website if you are planning to go on holidays in order to avoid unnecessary complications.

 

Employing EU citizens after Brexit

Recently, the Home Office started to refuse more and more applications for EU settlement scheme. As of June 2020, there were 3.71 million applications. In May 2020 Home Office made 900 refusals and in June 2020 it refused 1,400 applications.

A lot of UK employers have a significant number of EU employees as a part of their workforce. If employees lose their permission to work in the UK, employers might bear a lot of costs. If your employees apply as early as possible it will give them a chance to resubmit the application if it is refused. If, however, the employees wait until the deadline of 30 June 2021 they might lose permission to work in the UK and might not be able to re-apply. The process is also taking longer at the moment because of the COVID-19.

If an employee does not have valid permission to work in the UK past the deadline, it might lead to their dismissal. This will not only have a negative effect on the employee but also the employer can lose a valuable part of the workforce.

In order to avoid any complications with your application, you can consult one of our experienced lawyers for the EU settlement scheme application.

Contact us: contact@sterling-law.co.uk or 07 305 966 531

 

Covid & Visa sponsorship: Tier 2, Tier 4, Tier 5

The Home office has updated their guidance for Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors in the UK who are sponsoring those affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

If your student or employee is absent

No enforcement action will be taken against sponsors who continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences due to coronavirus.

Sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus.

This can include absences due to illness, their need to isolate or inability to travel due to travel restrictions.

Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship if because of coronavirus:

  • a student is unable to attend for more than 60 days
  • an employee is absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks

The above will be kept under review.

If you have issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) or a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and the sponsored employee or student has not yet applied for a visa

The employee or student will still be able to apply for a visa.

The start date for the course or employment stated on the CoS or CAS may have changed. We will not automatically refuse such cases.

For example, we may accept a CoS or CAS if they have become invalid because the employee or student was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. We will consider this on a case by case basis.

If you’re sponsoring a student who’s waiting for their Tier 4 visa application to be decided

You may allow students to start their studies before their visa application has been decided if:

  • you are a Tier 4 sponsor (other than Tier 4 Legacy Sponsors)
  • you have assigned the student a CAS
  • the student submitted their application before their current visa expired and has shown you evidence of this
  • the course they start is the same as the one listed on their CAS
  • the student has a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required

Your reporting responsibilities start from the date that you issue the CAS, not from the date that their application is granted.

If the student’s application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must terminate the student’s studies.

If you’re sponsoring employees who are working from home

You do not have to notify us if you’re sponsoring employees who are working from home due to coronavirus.

Other changes to their working arrangements must still be reported as usual.

If you’re sponsoring an employee who’s waiting for their Tier 2 or 5 visa application to be decided

You may allow employees to start work before their visa application has been decided if:

  • you have assigned them a CoS
  • the employee submitted their application before their current visa expired
  • the role they are employed in is the same as the one on their CoS

Your reporting responsibilities for an employee start from the date you have assigned them a CoS, not from the date that their application is granted. You will not be able to report information to us using the sponsor management system. You must however ensure that you record and maintain all the relevant information set out in the sponsor guidance on your own systems. Any changes that will impact the eventual consideration of the migrant’s visa application should be updated on the CoS, as normal.

If the employee’s application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must terminate their employment.

If you cannot pay the salaries of sponsored employees because you’ve temporarily reduced or ceased trading

You can temporarily reduce the pay of your sponsored employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower.

Any reductions must be part of a company-wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same.

These reductions must be temporary, and the employee’s pay must return to at least previous levels once these arrangements have ended.

 

Contact Oksana Demyanchuk for further information:

oksana@sterling-law.co.uk

+44 020 7822 8535