Brexit may still dominate the news agenda but there is other controversial legislation out there which impacts many landlords across the UK, it is called, ‘Right To Rent’.

On return from your holidays you may have battled with the ePassport gates a little but ultimately it has improved those dreaded queues significantly.

Well, that improvement of ‘flow’ was in mind for many more people, not just EU citizens, when back on 20th May 2019, visitors from Australian, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States were also able to enter the UK via ePassport gates using biometric passports.

Known as ‘B5JSSK nationals’ they have been automatically granted 6 months’ Leave to Enter as a visitor upon passing through. The scheme was introduced with a view to improving the flow of passengers at busy ports as well as attracting more visitors from these countries.1

Significantly, B5JSSK nationals who use the ePassport gates are granted Leave to Enter without any stamp in their passport or any written confirmation of the date their leave was granted or is due to expire….

The impact on Landlords

Now, for landlords, this has posed significant problems when attempting to conduct right to rent checks on B5JSSK nationals so what DO landlords check to establish a tenant’s right to rent?

The Home Office recently updated its guidance to try and address this issue.

In ‘A short guide on right to rent’, the Home Office advises that landlords can establish a B5JSSK national’s right to rent by checking their passport, together with evidence of the date they last travelled to or entered the UK.

This evidence might be a boarding pass, an airline, rail or boat ticket, a booking confirmation, or ‘any other documentary evidence which establishes the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months.’

The Home Office guidance also confirms that although visitors only have six months’ leave, landlords who have conducted these Right to Rent checks correctly will obtain a statutory excuse against a civil penalty for 12 months from the date of the check.

The Home Office advises that landlords need only conduct a follow up check prior to the end that 12- month period.

The issues for Landlords – a risk worth taking?

The updated guidance leaves plenty of issues unresolved.

One of the most prominent issues for landlords is that the guidance itself ‘has no legal standing’, yet it contradicts the legally-binding Code of Practice.

The Code of Practice lists the documents that can be relied upon in establishing a right to rent, but boarding passes, flight confirmations, or the suggested alternatives are NOT on the list.

Therefore, landlords who accept boarding passes or alternatives are having to rely on non-binding guidance to conduct checks that are unlawful under the current Code of Practice.

The RLA, which represents Residential landlords, argues that the guidance cannot give ‘any legal cover for landlords’ without updating the Code of Practice too.

Meanwhile, the updated guidance assures landlords that the Home Office will NOT pursue a civil penalty against any landlord that has conducted a check on a B5JSSK national correctly.

However, given the harsh penalties in place for landlords who fail to conduct right to rent checks property, it is clear that this is a risk many will not wish to take.

It is worth noting that the updated guidance does mention that the Home Office is seeking to update secondary legislation and the Code of Practice to reflect the changes relating to B5JSSK nationals as soon as possible.

However, given the months of planning that went into expanding the use of ePassport gates and the precarious situation that tenants and landlords now find themselves in, many would argue that ‘as soon as possible’ is not soon enough.

If you would like more information and advice on this visit our dedicated website https://www.right2rent.co.uk/landlords/ or email our resident expert Rachel Whickman here

Nottingham-based Immigration Law specialist Paragon Law has again been recognised once again as a Tier 1 firm by industry bible The Legal 500.

For 32 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world, with a comprehensive research programme revised and updated every year to bring the most up-to-date vision of the global legal market.

The Legal 500 assesses the strengths of law firms in over 150 jurisdictions and this year’s results are in!

Over the last 12 months, Paragon Law has continued to advise a number of large businesses around Brexit, immigration and people strategy, whilst clients have included one of the largest car manufacturers with plants throughout Europe, two multisite and multinational retailers, both of which are dependent on EU nationals as part of their workforce and clients in the higher education sector.

Paragon Law has also recently acquired Samworth Brothers Limited as a client to support their HR managers with training and support with the  transition to a new set of Immigration Rules in anticipation of Free movement of EU nationals ending. A further client win has been the University of Derby.

With Brexit a key factor for every business in the region, the firm has also been active in advising business associations and groups on immigration law and policy and has recently completed a series of workshops in partnership with the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and Mansfield & Ashfield District Council.

Thalej Vasishta, group CEO at Paragon Law said;

‘We are delighted to be recognised once again for our expertise in Immigration Law by this leading legal authority. The last year has been an incredibly stressful one for any business dealing with the complexities around Brexit, of EU recruitment and the retention staff. Where possible we have advised businesses on how best to manage these changes from an immigration law angle.

‘Despite the economic uncertainty, the UK has continued to see high levels of FDI and in recent months we have advised overseas companies on setting up business in the UK, including a property investment business from Thailand, a fintech recruitment company from India and a paper manufacturer from Dubai.

Alongside Paragon Law’s work within the corporate sector, the firm’s nationally renowned asylum and human rights team remain active with a number of Local Authorities in respect of unaccompanied minors and with charities supporting women and children who have been trafficked to the UK, FGM cases and providing training on asylum issues to the third sector.

On 11 September 2019, the UK Government announced the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies. Whilst there was excitement amongst Higher Education colleagues and students that the old Post Study Visa was being resurrected there was still confusion on how this new visa category would be implemented and who will qualify.

The Government have now given further clarification:

It will be introduced in the summer of 2021 and therefore those students who graduate in the summer of 2021 or after will be able to switch status to this new visa category.

The Graduate Immigration Route will only be available to international students who have a valid Tier 4 certificate and have completed a degree-level course or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.

This means that any student who successfully completes their degree-level course at a qualifying institution in the summer of 2021 or after will be eligible. This includes students who are already studying in the UK. Those whose Tier 4 visas expire before the summer of 2021 will need to benefit from securing a job offer and switching to Tier 2.

Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years. Graduates will need to switch into a skilled work visa category prior to their two-year visa expiring.

The graduate immigration route will require a new application. It will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The exact fee will be set out in due course. This route will not require sponsorship meaning that universities or an employer will not need to sponsor the student to switch into the graduate immigration route.

The route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to switch into skilled work, which is a route to settlement.

Deirdre Sheahan, Director of Nottingham-based Paragon Law’s Asylum and Human Rights team, will be speaking as part of a distinguished panel of experts on Human Rights and Corporate Law at The Supreme Court in London this October. 

The event is organised by the University of Nottingham and will see Deirdre joined by fellow experts, Professor Robert McCorquodale, Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Nottingham and Fiona Laurence, an experienced litigator and Legal Director at London firm Mishcon de Reya.

The event is chaired by the Rt. Hon. Sir Rabinder Singh, a Lord Justice of Appeal and Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham. The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Singh is also formerly a High Court judge of the Queen’s Bench Division, a Queen’s Counsel and barrister, formerly a founding member of Matrix Chambers and a legal academic.

As an immigration lawyer, Deirdre Sheahan has attended conferences with national and international organisations including UNCHR, and led workshops on Human Rights and Asylum for groups such as the British Red Cross and Amnesty International. 

Deirdre has also been at the forefront of notable cases which have changed the law in Refugee and Human Rights claims and has contributed to a range of publications addressing legal aid, refugee children’s rights and asylum practitioner wellbeing. Deidre has also worked closely with organisations such as Business in the Community on modern day slavery, particularly from the standpoint of businesses addressing this in their supply chains and the protection of those that are victims.

Deirdre said “as an Alumni of the University of Nottingham, I am delighted to be representing the city of Nottingham at the Supreme Court event in London. It will be a great opportunity to discuss the importance of human rights in the context of business. Paragon Law’s niche immigration law practice area is very much about the rights of individuals, families, UK trade and investment. Quite often there is a crossover and this is what, I am sure, I and my fellow panel members will highlight”.                  

Thalej Vasishta, Group Chief Executive Officer of Nottingham-based Paragon Law, will be sharing his expert insight into future immigration rules around employing skilled and unskilled migrants Post Brexit, at a series of events with the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce.

Attendance at the events is free for both members and none-members, which are delivered in partnership with Mansfield District Council

The first event will focus on some of the key concerns for the Manufacturing and Engineering Sector and takes place on Wednesday, 25 September 2019, from 8:30am – 11:30am.

The next event on October 1st, will focus on the Transport and Logistics Sector, whilst a third event on October 9th will address key concerns for employers and HR professionals in relation to how to respond to potential changes due to the UK leaving the EU.

Paragon Law is a Patron of EMC and Thalej Vasishta is on the Brexit Advisory Group of the Chamber. Since the Referendum result, Paragon Law has advised a number of business in the region with regards to their people strategy, particularly businesses that have historically had a large workforce from the EU and migrants from outside of the EU. 

Thalej explains;

‘This is a critical time for British businesses and it is essential that we are all as prepared as possible to understand the situation before, during and after this delicate period of transition. 

‘With regards Settled Status, the Government has already invested hugely in the application process and whilst the Boris Johnson Government does still appear to be supporting the settled status scheme, there is uncertainty as to what the new Immigration Rules will be with regards to future immigration from both the EU and outside of the EU. 

‘Many businesses, particularly in sectors such as logistics, engineering and manufacturing rely both on skilled migration and less skilled workers (the latter which up until now have been coming from the EU) and therefore they need certainty so that they can plan for their future workforce accordingly. 

‘Seminars such as these organised by the Chamber are critically important so that businesses can be updated on different scenarios (deal or no-deal), the new timeframes to make settled status applications for the EU workforce and how the Immigration Bill may shape the future immigration of workers from and outside of the EU.’’

For more information or to book onto the event, click here

Our group CEO, Thalej Vasishta, will swap the office suite at our city centre address for a night under the stars in just a sleeping bag next month, as he joins business figures from across the country in the CEO Sleepout UK campaign.

Here’s Thal discussing the CEO Sleepout campaign, why he wanted to get involved and how you can too.

‘I began my career in law because I have a keen sense of justice and I wanted to help those that struggled to access it. I have been fortunate in my career that I have been able to pursue that dream but for many every day is an immense challenge.

‘Preventing Homelessness and ensuring that those that are in this unfortunate situation are cared for, as best as possible, is everybody’s business. This is particularly so in a climate where report after report has confirmed that the situation is at crisis point.

‘Take a quick walk into town on your lunch break and you will see the scale of the situation. Every situation is different with regards people struggling to find a safe place to sleep or a roof over their heads. However, none of them have been helped by a chronic lack of funding, austerity and successive governments not addressing or pledging the support required by charities that are struggling to help.

‘This is where I and the charities that I am supporting need your help through a donation, however large or small, to address the disadvantage that the homeless face on a day to day and night to night basis.

‘I believe that no one chooses to be homeless and it is the cards that they have been dealt with, in life, which results in this. A lack of role models, mental health, relationship break-ups, domestic abuse, prison leavers, war veterans, care leavers, newly recognised refugees, those on low incomes or benefits. The trigger can be any or a combination of these factors.

‘In perspective, my contribution in terms of time is notably small and any funds raised will be a drop in the ocean compared to the resources that are needed but I want to do my bit where I can.

‘So, on October the 10th, I will sleep out for the night to experience just a little of that which the homeless experience every night on the streets. With your contribution to raise vital funds we will collectively help the incredible hard work of Emmanuel House, The Friary, Notts County Football in the Community and CEO Sleepout UK.  

‘Your donation will help these charities in their work to ensure that there is a mechanism to reach out. To provide food, shelter, health and social care, education, advocacy and to ensure that homelessness prevention is properly embedded in Government, their agencies and society.’ 

To help Thal raise much needed funds for these critical support services and organisations, please visit his dedicated page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thal-vasishta

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe and they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. 

So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

Thank you.

An employer who wants to recruit a skilled worker from outside of the EU needs a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office. Once the employer has a licence, they can sponsor skilled workers from overseas to fill a role in the UK.

In most cases, the employer will have to prove that they have tried advertising the role to settled workers in the UK before they are allowed to sponsor a non-EU national.

The employer must pay the market rate salary to the migrant worker. The exact level of the salary varies depending on the type of job that the migrant worker will be doing and also whether they are a ‘new entrant’ e.g. a graduate or an ‘experienced’ worker.

There is a cap on the number of skilled migrants that the Home Office will grant visas to each year. The Home Office consider requests from licenced employers on a monthly basis. They allocate ‘certificate of sponsorship’ based on the skill level required, whether the post is in a ‘shortage occupation’ and also the salary that the migrant will be paid.

Once the employer has a certificate of sponsorship, they can sponsor the migrant worker to make a ‘Tier 2’ visa application. Once the visa is granted, the worker can come to the UK and start work.

Once they are in the UK, the sponsoring employer takes on the responsibility for monitoring and reporting on the sponsored employee. The employee’s visa is linked to their specific job. Changes in job title, duties and salary must all be reported to the Home Office. In some cases, a significant change in duties may mean starting the whole process again.

The key proposals in the Governments new Immigration Bill is that if free movement from Europe ends then the cap on the number of skilled workers that can enter the UK under Tier 2 will be scrapped as will the resident labour market test.

Contact: Kirin Abbas, Kirina@paragonlaw.co.uk, 0115 9644114 

With around 43,000 UK nationals living and working in Switzerland and with a number of multinationals and NGO’S having their European headquarters based there it is important to be up to speed with what the Rules will be post-Brexit for UK citizens to work in Switzerland. These Rules have recently been set:

The News

The Swiss Federal Council approved on 17 April a temporary agreement with the United Kingdom on access to the Swiss labour market. The agreement will apply in the event of the UK’s disorderly departure from the EU. In such a scenario simplified requirement for working in either country would be introduced for a limited transition period until December 31 December 2020. 

The Background 

In the event of the UK’s disorderly withdrawal from the EU, the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) will no longer apply. This means that UK citizens entering Switzerland for the first time and wishing to settle will be treated like other non-EU/EFTA nationals, with the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA) being applicable to discern the requirements. If however, the UK leaves the EU on the basis of a withdrawal agreement, the current provisions of the AFMP will continue to apply between Switzerland and the UK during a transitional period which is expected to last until the end of 2020. 

The Effect

In order to safeguard the interests of the Swiss economy with regard to the recruitment of British workers in case of a disorderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the temporary agreement would introduce simplified access for UK nationals to the Swiss labour market for a limited period. In practice, this would mean dispensing with checks on professional qualifications and waiving the precedence given to workers already resident in Switzerland as well as waiving the consideration given to the interests of the economy as a whole. There would also be a temporary waiver of the need for federal government approval for cantonal permits. Wage levels and working conditions, however, would still be checked. As already decided on March 22nd, 2019, separate quotas for UK nationals would apply during the transition period. 

For Swiss nationals intending to work in the UK the agreement enables a stay in the UK for up to three months without needing a permit. If they wish to stay for longer than three months, registration is required upon which a residence permit for three years will be issued. This will be under a new scheme introduced by the UK known as European Temporary Leave To Remain. After the 3-year period, Swiss nationals will need to switch immigration status in accordance with The Rules in place at that time. 

The date the Agreement Comes Into Force

The Federal Council approved the agreement at its meeting on April 17 2019. Before signing it, however, the Federal Council will consult the relevant parliamentary committees regarding the provisional application of the agreement. The earliest possible date it will become law is June 1 2019.

Paragon Law are UK immigration law specialists and are retained by a number of businesses to manage global mobility programmes including the setting up of subsidiaries and the transfer of personnel across the globe. We do this by working with niche immigration law partners in the host country. We would like to thank our Swiss partners, Blue Lake Legal with their assistance in writing this article.

The Home Office have released a number of updates on the EU settlement scheme in the last 2 weeks.

Refunds

There will be no fee for a settled status application. Applicants who applied during the pilot phase will receive an automatic refund. The money will be paid to the card which paid the fee for the application. Those who have paid the fee should look out for this. Our prior experience is that refunds from the Home Office can be missed and they do sometimes have to be chased.

How is it working so far?

The Settled Status Scheme has been open in a pilot form since last year. It is currently open to those EU nationals who have a biometric passport and EU family members who have a biometric residence permit issued since April 2015.

The Home Office say that they have processed over 150,000 applications, with no refusals. Anecdotally, we have heard that the process is fairly straightforward when the technology works. Most issues have been with the App not working, however this was a pilot phase largely to test the App and therefore some bugs may be expected.

Roll-Out

The full scheme will now be opened in phases.

  • 30th March- Scheme will open to EU nationals and their family members who are applying from inside the UK. The scheme will also be open for nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their family members who are applying from inside the UK.
  • 9th April- Scheme opens for applications from outside the UK.
  • 1st May- Scheme opens for Zambrano carers.

Additional Help and Support

The application process for the EU Settlement Scheme is online and requires an Android device with ‘near field communication’ i.e. contactless technology. This is because the biometric chip in the passport can be read and authenticated by the Android device.

For those who do not have this, there will be a number of locations where applicants can take their passports to be authenticated. They will be in the following locations,

  • Bath
  • Belfast
  • Caerphilly
  • Dudley
  • Edinburgh
  • Hertfordshire
  • Hull
  • Lincolnshire
  • London (Camden)
  • London (Hackney)
  • London (Southwark)
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Sandwell
  • Southampton
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Trafford
  • Warwickshire

Contact details for each location are available here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-id-document-scanner-locations/locations-offering-chip-checker-services . Those wishing to use the service must book an appointment.

The geographical spread of these is clearly limited. For those without an android phone who are not local, it may be cheaper to buy a new phone than pay the travel cost!

There is also additional support for those who have difficulty with using the technology, including those with disabilities. Applicants can attend an ‘Assisted Digital’ location and a range of locations listed here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-assisted-digital-service/assisted-digital-test-location.

Home visits are offered in the locations listed here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-assisted-digital-service/assisted-digital-home-visits .

Overall, the spread of services seems rather odd and quite patchy, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The system works well for those who have the access to, and ability to use, the online system. However, for those who cannot use it, for instance due to poverty, disability or vulnerability, the support appears patchy and difficult to access. Anybody who struggles with using the internet will have significant difficulty. 

What do you get to show ‘settled status’?

One of the more unnerving aspect of this process is that it is electronic only. Applicants do not get any physical evidence of their status. While they do receive a grant letter, this states on it that it is not evidence of immigration status. There is no vignette or stamp in a passport and no biometric residence permit.

Employers who have to do ‘right to work’ checks will have to use a new online system here https://www.gov.uk/check-job-applicant-right-to-work . This is separate from the ‘Employer Checking Service’ which is used if an employee has an application outstanding with the Home Office.

The applicant must give you an access code, which is generated by the Home Office. You use that code to access their record. Of course, such a system is only as good as the technology and record keeping behind it. As with many of these systems operated by the Home Office, when they work, they work well. However, as soon as something unexpected or unusual happens, it can become very difficult to resolve.

Right to Work Checks- Important changes

The Government has released a new Code of Practice on Preventing Illegal Working. The new code reflects the fact that, as of 28th January 2019, employers can now conduct ‘right to work checks’ online for certain employees.

Employers can still carry out manual checks if they choose to.

Why do Right to Work Checks?

  • The UKVI can serve an employer with a notice requiring the payment of a penalty of a specified amount where they employ a person who is subject to immigration control; and
  • aged over 16; and
  • not allowed to carry out the work in question because either they have not been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK or because their leave to enter or remain in the UK:
  • is invalid;
  • has ceased to have effect (meaning it no longer applies) whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time or otherwise; or
  • is subject to a condition preventing them from accepting the employment.

In the event that an employer is found to be employing an employee who does not have the right to work, then they will have a defence if they have carried out the correct right to work checks. This can mean avoiding a financial penalty of up to £20,000.

In addition, if you are a licenced sponsor, failure to do right to work checks could lead to the loss of your sponsor licence.

What has changed?

Previously, employers had to conduct a manual check of an employee’s right to work documents in a specified form. Going forward, employers will have the option of making an online check to find out of an employee has the right to work. They will have to follow a three step process.

  1. The employee must give their permission for you to view their Home Office record online. They must do this by using the ‘Prove your right to work to an employer’ page on the .gov.uk website. This will generate a share code.
  2. The employer can then carry out the online right to work check by using the ‘View a job applicant’s right to work details’ on the .gov.uk website. The employer will need to enter the share code.
  3. The employer will receive a notice from the Home Office confirming whether the employee has the right to work and any conditions attached. The employer must retain this as evidence of having done.

This option will not be available for all employees because not all employees will be on the Home Office system. At present, an employee must have applied for ‘settled status’ as an EU national, or have a biometric residence permit. This means that you cannot use it for British nationals or those whose immigration status is proved by a vignette or sticker in their passport. For those employees, an employer must still carry out a manual check.

An improvement, but care still needed

This system should be more straightforward for employers to use for those employees who are eligible. However, there are some points that employers should still bear in mind.

This system is different from the existing online ‘Employer Checking Service’ checks. These are only for use where an applicant or employee has submitted an application for a visa to the Home Office before their old leave expired and the Home Office are still considering it. If the employee has the right to work, then the employer will receive a Positive Verification notice which will give them a statutory excuse for 6 months only. Employers must ensure that they are using the correct scheme.

Employers must make sure that they are using the gov.uk website. The Home Office clearly anticipate that there may be imposter websites that imitate the government website. Results from these will not give you a statutory excuse.

Employers must carry out their own online check using the share code. They must not rely on an online result provided by the employee themselves.

Employers must still check that the person that they are employing is the person for whom they get a notice, for example by looking at the photograph. You will not have a statutory excuse if the person you employ is clearly an imposter.

Some employees will require additional documents. For example, Tier 4 students can work only limited hours in term time. The employer must obtain evidence of their term dates from the university before employing the individual. These must be retained and refreshed over time. If you have any questions or concerns regarding right to work checks, or any other aspect of employing migrant workers, please contact Paragon Law for further advice and assistance.