The Home Office has changed the policy for employees awaiting visas, meaning that new EU hires may not be permitted to work in the UK until their visas have been processed.

An analysis by Bates Wells, a City Law Firm, has revealed that some firms may have been left unprepared as the Home Office suddenly withdrew a concession that would allow employees to work whilst their visa application is still being processed.

This rule was changed on the 23rd December, meaning that many businesses were not given time to adequately prepare as most had already closed for Christmas. Ultimately, this means that businesses which have reopened since the 1st January are finding that their new EU hires may not be permitted to work whilst their visas are still waiting to be processed.

This withdrawal of the initial concession meant that employers were left with only one week to assign new employees with a Certificate of Sponsorship which would enable them to work from 1st January 2021. Resultingly, many businesses have been forced to delay start dates until the visa application has been processed.

However, this could also take significant time to occur as the UK, at present, does not have a priority service for processing visa applications, months after this was expected to be rolled out. There are also delays of up to 28 days to get biometric appointments.

Chetal Patel, Partner at Bates Wells says:

The timing of this change could hardly be worse. Many employers have returned from their Christmas break only to realise that their new hires may not be eligible to legally work in the UK.

This concession was put in place to help businesses through the coronavirus crisis, which hasn’t gone away. Businesses need support, not more delays and bureaucracy.

New hires who have already come to the UK and were reliant on being able to start work immediately could face significant delays before they can start earning. This will create needless stress and uncertainty for both businesses and their employees.

Those applying for leave under the Health and Care visa are still permitted to work under the latest change.