Covid-19 concession removed that allows overseas workers to work while visas were being processed

Jan 8, 2021

Change to visa concessions may have scuppered new year hiring

Personnel Today

Written by Ashleigh Webber, published 7 January 2021

Read the article here

On 23 December 2020 the Home Office removed the Covid-19 concession that allows overseas workers to work in the UK while their visas were being processed.

Home Office guidance for work visa applicants changed on 23 December to state that people still awaiting a decision on their visa application can only begin working for a new employer if they have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) before 1 January 2021, or are applying under the new Health and Care visa. They must also have submitted their application before their current visa expired.

If a CoS was assigned after 1 January, the employee must wait until their visa application is approved before starting work, unless their current visa allows them to work in a new role.

The change applies to non-UK citizens living in the UK who are switching to the new Skilled Worker visa, or changing employer.

Covid 19 concession removed

Jonathan Beech Managing Director

Personnel Today contacted Migrate UK’s managing director Jonathan Beech for his comments


Jonathan noted that the change had only just been picked up by HR professionals and had caused some disruption.

There was little employers or workers could do to speed up the visa application process, other than attach a covering letter and supporting documentation explaining their reasons for needing a new visa urgently.

The main issue is that the option to pay for a priority or super-priority service is still not available and although expensive, this was a very popular option prior to the pandemic. Instead, employees must submit their application, book and attend a biometric data enrolment appointment and then await a decision.

Application decisions have sped up since September, however, with another lockdown, there is a worry that the biometric data enrolment appointments will be difficult to obtain in the desired location and at short notice.

People who submitted applications on the basis of a CoS issued prior to 1 January may still begin working for a new employer before their application has been decided but they must stop working if their application is refused or invalid.

If you need advice on the effect of the Covid-19 concession removed please contact Migrate UK on 01235 841 568 or email

Covid-19 concession removed

Migrate UK immigration lawyers