An Important Update for Temporary Migrants in light of Covid 19

Are you a temporary migrant living in the UK? Have you been furloughed or lost your employment because of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic?

by Shazia Akhtar, Partner, and Head of Immigration

The Home office guidance, issued on 24th April 2020, confirms that individuals who have limited leave to remain in the UK and no recourse to public funds do have support available to them. Access to public funds If you are currently residing in the UK on a Family or Private Life basis, you can make an application to access public funds if any of the following applies:

  • You’re destitute or at risk of destitution
  • Your child’s welfare is at risk due to low income
  • You’re in other exceptional financial circumstances Medical Treatment relating to Coronavirus (COVID 19)
  • Testing and treatment for coronavirus is free of charge even if your result is negative
  • No checks are undertaken to confirm an individual’s immigration status when seeking a test or treatment for coronavirus
  • If you have a medical condition that makes you vulnerable to coronavirus, then you can get help with deliveries of medication and food, etc.

If you are employed or self-employed in the UK You may be able to apply to access:

  • Coronavirus Retention Scheme provided to your employer
  • Statutory sick pay
  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance, subject to if you have made sufficient national insurance contributions
  • You can apply for a grant through the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme if you are registered as self-employed If you are studying in the UK
  • If you are unable to attend your place of study due to coronavirus then your Sponsor should not report you in these circumstances
  • You can contact your consulate or embassy for support If you are unable to pay rent or mortgage payments
  • Landlords must give tenants 3 months’ notice of evictions
  • From 27th March 2020, all evictions and possession proceedings have been suspended for 90 days

Mortgage lenders will be able to offer repayment holidays of 3 months In addition to the above, Local Authority Social Services may be able to provide further support if you or a family member have specific care needs.

At Deo Volente Solicitors, we understand that individuals may face financial difficulties arising from these unprecedented times. We are offering telephone consultations to address any queries that you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01234 350244 and speak to one of our team members within the immigration department.

Have your financial circumstances changed since your last grant of leave?

Have your financial circumstances changed since your last grant of leave? Was your leave granted on the basis of your family or private life?

by Shazia Akhtar, Partner, and Head of Immigration Services

During these unprecedented times, we understand that people are struggling to make ends meet because of illness, self-isolation, school, or work closures. If you are currently in the UK on the basis of your family or private life, we can make an application for a change of conditions of leave. This will allow access to public funds because your circumstances have changed:

You can apply if:

  • your financial circumstances have changed since being given permission to stay in the UK and you are no longer able to provide food or housing for yourself or your family
  • your child is at risk because of your very low income
  • you had financial problems when you first applied but you did not provide evidence of this and you now want to provide this evidence

If your application is successful the conditions of your leave will be changed to allow you to access public funds. There is no Home Office fee for this application.

Eligibility

  • You’re eligible to apply for a change of conditions if:  you have leave to remain under the 10-year partner, parent or private life route
  • you have leave to remain on the basis of other ECHR right
  • You can also be eligible to apply if you have leave to remain under the 5-year partner/parent route.
  • If you’re accepted you would be considered to have moved on to the 10-year route to settlement.

You’ll qualify for an amendment to your conditions of leave only if:

  • you’re destitute
  • there are particularly compelling reasons relating to the welfare of your child on account of your very low income
  • there are exceptional circumstances in your case relating to your financial circumstances

A person is destitute if:

  • they do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it (whether or not their other essential living needs are met)
  • they have adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it, but cannot meet their other essential living needs

If you meet the requirements for a change to the conditions of your leave to allow you to apply for public funds you will be told by letter or email.

This may include a request that you give biometric information (fingerprints and photographs). You would need to do this at a Service & Support Centre (SSC). Information on how to do this will be provided in the decision. A new biometric residence permit will be issued.

If you are worried about your financial position and would like to discuss your circumstances please call us on 01234 350244 and we will be happy to assist you.

We are here to help you! – Covid 19 Update

The health and safety of our staff, clients and fellow businesses is our given priority in any period. Due to current Covid-19 pandemic, we want to inform you that unfortunately, we will not be hosting face-to-face meeting for the foreseeable future. 

Fortunately, as a firm, we have adapted to the current circumstances to make sure that we are still open and available to you. Whether you are a current client, a new client or someone who would like some helpful advice from a trusted Solicitor regarding your situation and Covid 19; we have the following systems and procedures in place: 

  • We have the facilities in place to host an appointment via telephone or video call. Our lines our open as normal between office hours so please do not hesitate to call us on 01234 350244. 
  • Rather than post, you can send us any documents electronically. If you already have a solicitor, then you can send it to them via their email. If not, you can send any documents to our secure inbox info@dvsolicitors.com, which is being monitored round the clock. 
  • 
Worried about making payment? You can call us on 01234 350244 and speak to a member of our team to make payment securely over the phone. 
  • We are here for you! We have recently set up our Twitter: https://twitter.com/AskDeoVolente, which is available for anyone to use if they would like some bitesize advice regarding Covid 19. We understand there are a lot of questions that people have at the current time and we’re here to help answer those questions. Ask us anything and know you will be getting advice from a trusted solicitor! #AskDV 

Whilst the future may be somewhat uncertain, we can assure you that you can find certainty in DV Solicitors. We will continue to follow Government advice and closely monitor the situation, alas also maintain to put measures in place to ensure that we can deliver excellent customer service and help any persons where we can.  

We look forward to speaking to you on the phone, on Skype or on Twitter!  

Do contact us on 01234 350244

Discussing Domestic Violence and Coronavirus

Discussing Domestic Violence and Coronavirus
by Sabrina Begum, Litigation Paralegal

Since the outbreak of the novel virus, the National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a tragic 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the infancy of the lockdown.

Domestic abuse can consist of the following, however, this is not an exhaustive list:

·        Physical abuse

·        Emotional and psychological violence

·        Financial abuse

·        Coercive control

Domestic abuse is a serious issue that affects many families. Evidently, the impact of self-isolation whilst in an abusive relationship has the potential to intensify a dangerous situation. A home is supposed to be a safe haven. For many this is not the case. Victims, who are isolated, are left with their perpetrators and unable to access their usual means of support.

Government guidelines state that individuals should not leave their house unless it is for an essential reason. However, Section 6 (2)(m) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 makes provision for people to leave their homes in order to avoid injury, illness, or to escape the risk of harm. This provision makes an exception for those at risk of domestic abuse as they can leave their homes to escape such a dangerous situation.

Charities are frequently advising that victims should ensure they have a close contact, such as a family member or even a close friend. They can stay with or contact this person if matters escalate and they need to leave their homes immediately.

Alternatively, there are a variety of options available to victims of domestic abuse. Court Orders being one of them. People who are experiencing domestic abuse can contact us to discuss the possible options available to them.

The 2 main remedies are a Non – Molestation Order and an Occupation Order. This gives victims the ability to access the courts and a means of escaping their abuser, despite restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

A non-molestation order protects anyone who suffers from violence, threats of violence, intimidation, harassment, or pestering. In order to apply for a non- molestation order there is not a specific category that you need to fall into. Generally, non- molestation orders are made for a period of 6-12 months, but these orders can be extended. A breach of the order can lead to a criminal offence and gives the police the power to arrest the respondent.

Alternatively, an occupation order regulates the occupation of the home. It can exclude the abuser from living in the home or prevent access in certain areas of the home. As aforementioned, it covers a wide range of reasons for which a person can apply.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or have any concerns about someone who is, give us a call on 01234 350 244 and we will be happy to assist you.

The PPE Conundrum

The PPE conundrum by Danna Quinto, Head of Litigation and Family Services/Partner of Deo Volente LLP

I am an immigrant, a transplant from Philippines circa 13  years ago. Most, if not all, of the Filipino people of my age that I know of and am close with, who live in the UK are nurses or health care workers. This includes my best friend of 23 years, and many childhood friends. Most of my Filipino clients are nurses tooSo this blog is more than another legal summary. This hits close to home. Tall of the health care workers – thank god for you. May the law do you justice, may it protect you whilst you do your job. If it falls short, may moral duty urge someone to do something urgently to fix that.  

Some would argue that we do not send warriors to war with makeshift bulletproof vest and half a rifle. Some would also point out that the warriors that we sent to traditional battlefields had consented to entering a career laden with risks of having to give up their lives – did our health care workers accept  the same level of risk by entering their profession?  

It is a complicated, unprecedented, and evolving situation -  I know, we know. However I also know that my client who is a frontliner fears she will not be able to see the end of her settlement negotiations as she witnessed nurse friends being rolled to the ICU. I have also been asked for the nth time by the nth frontliner of a thing or two about drafting their wills. There is an air of perishability floating with the spring pollens. 

It has been widely reported that there is a gap in the healthcare workers (HCW) supply of Personal Protective Equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic fight. One news article noted “repetition of use of PPE” by HCWsanother reported supply levels as “critically low”. 

Even the Royal College of Nursing noted their disappointment and avers on their website “On behalf of our members, we have voiced our disappointment over the length of time it has taken to develop this guidance and include nursing as an equal stakeholder alongside medical professional organisations. Employers must adhere to this guidance in order to regain the confidence of the nursing workforce. “ 

The Guardian asked last weekend raised this query: “Was the UK as prepared as it should have been for coronavirus, including holding the appropriate levels of the right PPE equipment?”. The article then acknowledges the need for a practical debate rather than an academic  one. It then made a conjecture that logistics is the problem. 

Could logistics mean Section 8 of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 2002 where no person who is a responsible person shall place on the market any PPE unless the requirements enumerated as subsection 2 have been complied with in relation thereto. This practically means another layer of gatekeeping (justified to an extent, some quarters would argue) before we can get necessary supplies delivered to the frontliners. The Royal College of Nursing however avers in their website “The RCN is clear that health care workers must not accept any PPE hand made donations. Your employer will provide you with high standard personal protective equipment meeting health and safety standards” 
The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations was enacted in 2002, eighteen years before the COVID-19 pandemic. Was the apocalyptic effect of pandemic on supply chain foreseeable then?  Quite probably – several contagion films had arguably thought of it (pre and post 2002) 

Was the UK stockpile of PPE kept at a level with sufficient consideration as to the “Section 8 effect” during an apocalyptic supply market? 

The standard of care is the same for employers of HCWs whether they are NHS or private – it is the employer’s duty to keep a reasonably safe environment for its employees, to ensure that employees are trained and equipped to face the risk and hazards of their role. If a HCW is worried or concerned of their situation or his/her PPE, s/he must raise it with the employer and it would be most prudent to do so in writing. The Royal College of Nursing, for example, published their own request to the government for clarity and assurances in their website 
“On behalf of its members and in the interests of public safety, the Royal College of Nursing is seeking urgent clarity and assurances from government and health authorities across the UK that there will be: 
Priority Covid-19 testing for all health care professionals. 
  • Access to adequate supplies of personal protective equipment and hand sanitiser for all nursing, midwifery, social care and student nurse staff for use at the point of care. 
  • Full occupational sick pay paid from day 1 for all our members, with no detriment, regardless of where they work. 
  • Provision from government and employers to ensure all nursing staff can care for their children without a loss of income. 
  • Clarity on the measures taken to protect pregnant and vulnerable nursing staff. 
  • Stringent measures in place to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of staff by addressing fatigue, hydration and issues of abuse towards staff.” 
However, there is a far pressing issue than titillating legal conundrum. 
The problem is clear – our HCWs need PPE stat. 
The sooner that we solve the logistic issues the better, whether it is a bureaucratic check point that is holding it up or the apocalyptic disruption of supply chain. Get on with it.. 
Crisis calls for creative , swift, and bold answers – I have seen countries with no luxury of comprehensive health and safety regulations surviving the crisis by encouraging ingenuity of their people – I have seen the internet laced with news about handmade visors from acetate, gowns made by local seamstress in different colours to lift the spirits, and ski goggles donned by HCWs as an alternative face protection equipment. 
Nonetheless, we also know that hasty and incomplete solutions can be dangerous. 
If our HCWs used non-prescribed and donated PPE as a result of shortage of prescribed  PPE and ended up being severely stricken by COVID-19, would this be seen as contributory negligent if they are to mount a personal injury claim? How will we argue causation? How can we prove causation? 

There are a lot of questions. I understand the government are “triaging” issues  that they need to deal with. It is hoped that the RCN and all HCWs receive answers and assurances they deserve, and that HCWs shall not be put a position where they need to contemplate choosing to break their contractual obligation in order to keep themselves safe.