COVID-19 UPDATE – 1/07/2020

COVID-19 UPDATE 

POSTED ON 1/07/2020

BIOMETRIC APPOINTMENTS

Due to the temporary closures of Sopra Steria sites across the UK it has not been possible to obtain appointments to enrol biometric data.

We have now started to receive letters from the Home Office in some cases stating they are now accessing applications, have made interim assessments and they require us to scan or clearly photograph and email documents to an email address given in the letter.

The letter states they are not requesting any further information or documentation that has already been provided, but scan or clearly photograph and email or clearly photograph the same documentation directly to them. I presume this because they cannot in cases where documents have been provided to Sopra Steria, obtain the same.

REMOTE BAIL HEARINGS

I had my first remote bail hearing on 16th of June. The case was listed very quickly and the notice of hearing informed us that only myself, the Home Office representative and the immigration judge would be on the telephone call. However, the applicant was also included on the telephone call on the day of the hearing. The financial controllers (previously known as sureties) were not present. I had given details of the financial supporters and the bond they were prepared to risk on the application form but it proved not to be necessary as the First-tier Tribunal Judge can only accept offers of bail bond where a financial supporter is present and signs documents confirming they are making the pledge of the sum risked.

As it appears to be widely reported it seems that First-tier Tribunal Judges are granting bail to the dissatisfaction of the Home Office.

My client was not a vulnerable client and I did not argue that he was at greater risk of getting Coronavirus because of his detention.

Pleased to say that we were granted bail.

CHANGES TO MEETING THE MINIMUM INCOME REQUIREMENT FOR PARTNER APPLICATIONS/APPLICANTS WHO HAVE LOST THEIR JOB BECAUSE OF COVID-19 OR WHO HAVE BEEN FURLOUGHED

This is also good news. One Immigration’s biggest area of casework is Partner/Fiancé/Unmarried partner/Civil partner cases where there a financial requirement of £18,600 income plus significant savings or substantial savings on their own to meet the test. Additional amounts are required for children who are not exempt. As explained in an earlier article, the financial requirements for employed persons need to be shown within 28 days of the date of application and self-employed persons can rely upon the income from the last full financial year or the average income received in the last two financial years.,

With the severe disruption to working/income we were very concerned about our clients not meeting the financial requirements.

The Home Office have now published changes to the minimum income requirements and will consider the employment income for the period before.

NO RECOUSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS TEST

This is the condition placed on an individual’s leave to remain to prohibit them from claiming defined public funds. Receiving the public funds would breach their immigration conditions and is also a criminal offence. Where a person has received public funds and is prohibited from doing so they are likely to be refused further leave to remain. The High Court has recently found that the Home Office policy on imposing this test under the ten years route to settlement as unlawful and Home Office guidance has been amended to take into account the High Court ruling.

The changes to the policy should assist individuals who are at risk of destitution by having to pay the expensive immigration application fees from which the government derives a profit. The judges found that the Home Office policy guidance to case workers fail to ensure that imposing the no recourse to public funds condition would not result in inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is incorporated into English law under the Human Rights Act.

CHANGES TO MEET THE MINIMUM INCOME REQUIREMENTS FOR PARTNER APPLICATIONS/APPLICANTS WHO LOST THEIR JOBS BECAUSE OF COVID-19 OR WHO HAVE BEEN FURLOUGHED (LAID OFF FROM THEIR EMPLOYMENT

This is also good news. One Immigration’s biggest area of casework is partner/fiancé/unmarried partners/civil partners cases for entry clearance visas/leave to remain and settlement where there is a financial requirement of £18,600 income or income plus significant savings or substantial savings on their own to meet the test. Additional amounts are required for children who do not have indefinite leave to remain, British citizen or are EEA nationals.

As explained in the earlier article, the financial requirements for employed persons need to be demonstrated within 28 days of the date of application and a self-employed person can rely upon the income from the last full financial year or the average income received in the last two full financial years.

With this severe disruption to work/income we were very concerned about our clients not meeting the financial requirements.

The Home Office have now published changes to the minimum income requirement and will consider:

  • Employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income due to Coronavirus, provided the requirement was met for at least six months up to March 2020.
  • Where salary has been reduced because of furlough they will take account of income as though the individual is earning 100% of their salary.
  • If you are self-employed, a loss of annual income due to Coronavirus between 1st of March 2020 and 31st of July 2020 will generally be disregarded.

Whilst the above is very welcome I still envisage appeals where the financial requirements are not met and where income/work life has been disrupted because of Coronavirus. It will be interesting to see should that situation arise what impact the Home Office message that if applicant’s experience a loss of income due to coronavirus, they will not be disadvantaged, will have at immigration appeals.

 

Manjit Singh

One Immigration Ltd

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