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Current Immigration Information and Business Information: UK 2020


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Partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, partly due to the worsening situation with migrants, the UK made several new decisions in 2020 regarding doing business in its territory and the rules of immigration. Let's consider the main provisions and try to understand where the wind is blowing.

Bonuses for British Nationals in Hong Kong

From 22 July 2020, the rules for British nationals living in Hong Kong have been updated - a new visa category is being introduced for them. It will start operating in January 2021, and it will be possible to switch to it within the country without leaving the UK.

Those who arrived in the UK from Hong Kong before January 2021 (including their families) are provided with a temporary residence permit for 6 months outside of normal immigration rules. If this period expires before January 2021 (that is, before the opening of a new visa route), they must renew the temporary residence permit themselves according to the established rules and possibilities.

However, it will not work to violate the current visa rules - British citizens of Hong Kong need to closely monitor the validity (especially the end) of current visas.

Home Office changed leadership: what awaits employers

The new management has already published a voluminous 130-page document that will greatly change the rules of employment in the UK for different categories of immigrants. Let's go through specific points and go to collect our bags in England:

  1. Several types of new visas are being introduced - for example, the Graduate Visa.
  2. Previously, an employer, before hiring a foreign person, had to conduct an analysis of the UK market and confirm that a suitable specialist could not be found in the country, which is why he takes a person from abroad (such an analysis-testing was called the Resident Labor Market Test). So - in 2021 the Resident Labor Market Test is canceled! Yes, it is still desirable to hire British people for jobs, but, in essence, the Home Office allows employers here to do their best.
  3. Immigration Health Surcharge continues to apply to Tier 2 General (Skilled Worker) and Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (Intra-Company) visa holders
  4. The same "graduate visa" - Graduate Visa - is issued to graduates of British universities and holders of a doctoral degree (postgraduate program). Graduate Visa entitles you to seek employment and start a career within 2 years of graduation, without confirming sponsorship.
  5. Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Program) visa holders are no longer required to return to their home country to apply and process - they are now considered UK qualified workforce so that all paperwork can be processed locally.
  6. Global Talent visa holders and applicants no longer have a year cap, but must still obtain endorsement through their program.

Biometrics will cost more

Sopra Steria, the leading biometric data collection operator in the UK visa application centers, has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic - now there are practically no free slots (time) for delivery, it is very difficult to sign up. According to the representative:

We admit that it was a difficult time for people who were unable to access the time slots due to the global pandemic.

A Home Office spokesman comes to the rescue with a statement:

During this entire period, more than half of our recordings on major sites were available free of charge from 9am to 7pm, Monday through Friday. As expected, there was an unprecedented demand for these free slots. Clients with urgent or exceptional cases can contact the United Kingdom Visa and Immigration Service (UKVI) using the hotline set up during the coronavirus outbreak.

The company claims that it has optimized its processes and made progress, movement in the waiting lists. The recording process is planned to be made more accessible and as fast as possible, without missing important security measures due to the threat of infections.

However, this has affected the cost of recording and collecting: there is now an additional charge. The Independent cites the example of a Japanese family that cost 440 £ to enroll in biometrics - 110 £ for each family member - due to very, very few slots to write.

For refugees, and for legal immigrants, the increased rates turned out to be unaffordable: the UK visa centers that opened in June 2020 set too high a price for them. Few who had the opportunity literally sold out property in order to collect the amount for the contribution and stay in the country legally. There are fears that many "come in large numbers" due to the inability to pay the fee and register will not officially receive legal documents for legal residence in the UK, which will cause an influx of undocumented migrants.

However, the process of collecting biometrics will be improved!

In the wake of the alarm, Sopra Steria said that the process of taking biometric data will be improved, it will be faster, that is, the number of people in the queue will decrease. Home Office will be able to view the previous data submitted earlier for previous visa applications, and thereby speed up the process:

We are committed to providing world-class service and visa applicants continue to have the opportunity to sign up for biometrics for free at six major centers across the UK, including London, Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester.

It is planned to open all visa centers in the country as soon as possible, but with the obligatory observance of the rules and recommendations from the National Health Service: of course, this will also unload the queues and speed up the process.

A new system of state tax administration has been developed

The new plan covers the next 10 years and is described in the government report "Building a reliable modern system of tax administration". Britain strives to make taxation more modern, efficient, sustainable - and at the same time support taxpayers affected by the pandemic. Generally speaking, the document underlines the desire for digitalization (MTD) and outlines the circle of long-term reforms in this area. More pointwise:

  • From April 2022, MTD will cover all registered taxpayers - no matter how much they pay to the crown (currently MTD only deals with turnovers above 85,000 £, that is, above the VAT threshold).
  • From April 2023, the MTD will apply with personal income taxes (ITSA) over 10,000 £ (including for landlords, for businesses outside of corporations)
  • Full consultations for corporations on digitalization of income tax are planned in 2020
  • MTD will gradually expand to all areas of the HMRC. HMRC will make changes in stages, constantly advising taxpayers, tax agents and software providers, related authorities, so that the process should be painless for the business.
  • Reform of the tax administration system - this will help legislative work, the elaboration of procedural rules.

In general, digitalization meets with approval from the British, but many are worried about the timing, or rather, their tightness: the overwhelming number of enterprises in the UK have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and will deal with the consequences for a very long time. The MTD administration system will consider the optimal deadlines, calculate the frequency of payment of different types of taxes, think over which technological tools and supporting infrastructure can help in the process.

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