The Government has created a new visa for people from Hong Kong with British National (Overseas) status. The five year visa will enable BN(O)s and their dependent family members to live, work and study in the UK, and give them a route to permanent settlement and British citizenship. It launches on 31 January.
The Dublin III Regulation enabled the UK to return some asylum seekers to EU Member States without considering their asylum claims. It also provided a legal route for reuniting separated asylum-seeking family members in the UK. The Regulation will no longer apply in the UK from the end of this year.
The use of contingency asylum accommodation - particularly, hotels and former military barracks - has recently increased. This has been due to issues with some asylum accommodation contracts and, more recently, measures to limit the risk of spreading Covid-19.
This briefing provides background to changes to UK visa requirements affecting non-British family members of British citizens living in the UK, which the Government plans will take effect from late March 2022. It also summarises campaigners' calls for a change of policy, and related debates during the passage of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2019-21.
The Government is reviewing its policy on restricting asylum seekers' rights to work. The current position is that people seeking asylum can only apply for permission to work if they have been waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claim for over 12 months. Those who are given permission can only do skilled jobs on the Shortage Occupation List.
Efforts by the Home Office to remedy the injustices suffered by people caught up in the Windrush scandal are ongoing. The Windrush compensation scheme is operational, and legislation underpinning the scheme received Royal Assent in June 2020. But some stakeholders remain dissatisfied with aspects of the Home Office's response to the scandal, for example citing ongoing delays in processing cases and applications for compensation.
Most non-EEA nationals applying for temporary leave to remain in the UK must pay an 'Immigration Health Surcharge' (IHS) to the Home Office, in addition to the immigration application fee. The Government has a manifesto commitment to increase the charge and extend it to EEA nationals after the Brexit transition period. The charge, and the proposed increases, have generated some controversy, particularly against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following a recent change of policy, the Government now intends to exempt NHS and care workers from the IHS in the future, although it has not yet confirmed when this will take effect.