Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

This page contains a variety of information and resources to support those who work with refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants. There are also a number of resources that can be used directly by clients you are supporting.

Here are links to the following topics on this page


Asylum Information

Asylum Operations are continuing to make and serve decisions on cases where there is enough information to do so – They are continuing to review them on a case by case basis, ensuring those with significant safeguarding concerns or vulnerabilities are only served if appropriate to do so. Decisions that may be affected, and therefore on hold include; 1) where a recipient may be vulnerable to destitution as a result of our decision and/or 2) where an individual is particularly vulnerable, an example being someone with mental health conditions, and also those with disabilities.

Regional Asylum Intake Units – additional locations – The AIU in Croydon will continue to function as normal but will additionally be supported by limited operations in Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool, Leeds, Solihull and Cardiff. These will be to meet the demands of asylum registrations within the geographical area and will not operate a 5-day service. Click here for more information.

New factsheet on asylum accommodation and applications – has been produced by the UK Government in light of coronavirus. It can be accessed here.

Asylum Intake Unit (AIU) screening interviews have been cancelled – The Home Office have cancelled some screening interviews and are working on a new system for asylum claims to be registered regionally without the need to physically attend the Asylum Intake Unit in Croydon. Further information on this can be found here.

Asylum decisions can now be served by email – The Home Office have set up a process whereby they will send an email to the legal representative (using the most recent email address they have on file) to verify that the email address  is correct, that the representative is happy to receive emails, the authority to act is current and that there are no reasons why serving the decision by email would not be appropriate. For more information, click here.

Postal applications for refugee integration loans are no longer being accepted – however can be accepted via email. Guidance on applying for the loan can be found here and details of how to apply can be found here.

The First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) announced that all hearings up to 30th April 2020 will be converted to Case Management Hearings (CMR) via telephone or Skype which will take place on the original hearing date in a time slot to be allocated. More information on this can be found here.

Voluntary Returns Service— The Home Office have decided to currently cease offering assisted returns at the time, due to difficulties of assisting returns as well as the infrastructure, it has made it become impossible to offer the level of support needed at this time. They will however continue to register an interest from people who wish to return, and to offer other levels of support to help as many people as they possibly can, including arranging flights, get travel documents etc. and to talk through the offer on an individual basis. Further information and how to be in touch can be accessed here.

Section 95 support – Due to the current Covid19 pandemic, there has been a pause in face to face substantive asylum interviews. There are likely to be delays in initial decision-making and in asylum appeals taking place. Therefore people may remain entitled to s95 support for longer. Those that do lose their asylum appeals should remain on support as, due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is impossible for them to leave the UK. In the event that they do receive notification that their s95 support is being discontinued, they should immediately apply for s4 support. Further details can be found here .

Asylum seekers with a fresh claim – The majority of refused asylum-seekers on s4 support have outstanding fresh claims as it has long been established that it is not reasonable to be expected to leave the UK when waiting for a decision on a fresh claim. The Further Submissions Unit has closed to face to face further submissions appointments and it is now possible to send the further submissions in post. More information can be found here .

Move On Period – the Minister has announced that for the next three months asylum seekers will not be asked to leave their asylum accommodation. We have also received clarification that financial support will also continue. In the letter, the Minister sets out that this will reviewed towards the end of June. The letter sent to the red cross is available here.

EU Settlement Scheme

Video guidance on EUSS support from the 21st May- can be accessed here. 

The EU Settlement Resolution Centre continues to provide support 7 days a week – by email and telephone, in line with public health guidance to work from home where possible.

EU Settlement Scheme application routes and services resume –Home Office support services and application routes have all fully reopened in line with public health guidance. There continues to be a range of support available online, by telephone and by email for those who have questions or need help applying. The postal route for submitting identity evidence is also open for applicants who are unable to use the app to verify their identity. Click here to read the full update.

Many organisations supporting people to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme have had to cancel their face-to-face outreach activities, but many organisations are still providing advice via phone or email. To find an organisation near you, click here.

Refugee Resettlement Schemes

Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme – IOM and UNHCR announce temporary suspension of resettlement travel for refugees. As countries drastically reduce entry into their territories owing to the COVID-19 global health crisis, and restrictions around international air travel are introduced, travel arrangements for resettling refugees are currently subject to severe disruptions. For more information, you can find the announcement here.

In light of the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday (23 March) and the ongoing global situation, resettlement arrivals will be further postponed until 20th April. We will be in touch with the affected Local Authorities/community sponsors on an individual basis to confirm this. We continue to keep the situation under review and will resume arrivals as soon as we are able to. A Q&A should be available shortly, this will be circulated

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

DfE has recently published a factsheet for UASC during COVID-19 – It forms part of a pack of advice for care leavers during and after COVID-19. The Factsheet for UASC begins on page 20. Although the pack refers to advice for care leavers, the UASC factsheet is relevant to young people who are currently looked after, as well as to care leavers. Click here to access the factsheet.

Temporary amendment to UASC funding to local authorities – In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic a temporary amendment has been made to the terms under which local authorities can claim Home Office funding in respect to their costs of supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) which should be read in conjunction with the current funding instructions. Click here to access the guidance. 

DfE have just published guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care setting – this includes the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes information on what protection is needed when transporting children. Click here for more information.

Fact sheet on information in relation to UASC transfers – The UK Government have provided a fact sheet in relation to transfers of UASC into the UK. This includes their key points, background information and figures. This can be accessed here.

Other Migrants

No Recourse to Public Funds – The NRPF Network have a section on their website on their update for NRPF services. Click here to access their current update.

Visas extended for those currently unable to return home due to COVID-19  – The extension was announced on 24th March by the Home Secretary Priti Patel, that will apply to anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation. This will last until 31 May but will be kept under regular review in case further extensions are needed. A COVID-19 immigration team has been set up within UKVI to make the process as straightforward as possible. For more information or to for details of how to contact, please click here.

UKVI Reporting and Offender Management (ROM) Team have now confirmed reporting frequencies for reportees in light of the COVID-19 developing situation.  The decision taken is that they will initially suspend reporting for all reportees and an SMS message will be sent out to reportees shortly advising them of this – see below in bold. The agreement is that reporting will be suspended for Non FNO’s for 3 months.  For FNO’s, they will all be moved to monthly reporting. They will then, via SMS, inform reportees of the change to their reporting and when they should next report.

Health and Vulnerability Information

Wellbeing Resources – Migrant Help have collated a selection of online wellbeing resources for asylum seekers which includes online exercise activities, resources for Arts and Crafts and also Culture resources such as webcams in zoos and theatre performances. This is available here

£2.9 billion funding to strengthen care for the vulnerable – £1.6 billion will go to local authorities to help them respond to other coronavirus (COVID-19) pressures across all the services they deliver. This includes increasing support for the adult social care workforce and for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people. For more information, click here.

DfE and PHE guidance on isolation for different settings, including children’s homeshttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings

PHE guidance on COVID-19 for residential settingshttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance/covid-19-guidance-on-residential-care-provision

Guidance and Policy

Translated Government Guidance

COVID-19 infographics available online in multiple languages – website now includes translated material on face coverings, as well as information on places of worship reopening in 40 languages including Arabic, Bengali, Pashto, Polish, Punjabi, Urdu and many more. Click here to access the website.

Translators Without Borders glossary of COVID terms – developed in 33 languages to address language barriers involving COVID-19 which may be useful for key workers and community translators. Click here to access.

Test and Trace Videos in 14 languages – Peterborough City Council have created videos on the test and trace service in multiple languages, including English, ArabicChinese Mandarin,  CzechHindiLatvianLithuanianPolishPunjabiRomanianRussianSwahiliTetum and Urdu.

Quarantine rules for travel, explained in Arabic – thanks to Migration Yorkshire for sharing, translated material on the new quarantine rules for travels are available to be accessed here.

Translated material in Arabic in one place – Migration Yorkshire have put together a translated material page which collates all the materials into one place. The first page in Arabic. Click here to access.

DWP Guidance

DWP National Insurance number interviews – As a precautionary measure to protect people from unnecessary risk of exposure of coronavirus, National Insurance Number interviews are not currently taking place for 3 months effective from 17/03/2020. We are making efforts to contact all our customers to advise them not to attend our offices.We apologise for the inconvenience this causes, however we can confirm that individuals do not need a National Insurance Number to apply for benefits or a job. Individuals can start work without a National Insurance Number as long as they have the right to work in the UK and employers have information to allow them to do this.

For further information around DWP Services during this current crisis please access the Coronavirus and claiming Benefits section on our Understanding Universal Credit website. The site is being updated regularly to provide the latest updates to customers and partners.  

Resources

Voluntary and Community Sector Provision

NEMP have collated a list of Voluntary and Community Sector Services opening times and availability during COVID-19, due to social distancing measures and avoiding unnecessary travel most drop ins and services are closed for face to face support. Please view the attached document to see details – HERE.

ESOL Resources

NEMP have pulled together a list of ESOL resources to utilise while mainstream provision is unavailable. NEMP’s list of resources, including websites and mobile apps is available here.

Future Learn is a great site with lots of other resources. Please note that further progression onto the course may incur costs. You can search on Future Learn by title for the next run dates.  Please see the following courses on offer. Links to courses are available here.

The North West have kindly collated ESOL resources to learn at home also, this is available here.

Carol Vorderman’s Maths Factor is now being offered free to all.  Perfect for home schooling as it is matched to the school curriculum. Although this is aimed at children.  It’s quite easy to follow as the language is simple and relies on demonstrations of numbers which most EAL children can recognise.  Older adults can have a go or spend time learning together with their children aiding language development. It currently experiencing high demand so you have to be patient to sign up. It is available here.

Children’s Resources

Migrant Help have collated a selection of resources for refugee and asylum seeker children to access online. This includes online story times, zoo web cams, PE lessons, arts and crafts ideas, and additional online learning for children. This is available here.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources

The NEMP have developed a list of online resources focussing on mental health and wellbeing services, some of which are available in a variety of languages. This is available to download here.

North East LAs
National Support

IOM – IOM UK has designed a Covid-19 Migrant Information Service to provide extra support to migrants in the challenging context of the Covid-19 crisis. The info service includes: a multilingual website, a telephone service to provide information to migrants living in the UK on 5 key topics: health, work, benefits, visas and immigration, housing and homelessness. The website also provides a comprehensive overview of the various governmental and non-governmental support schemes that are available to migrants. The link to the website is here.

Migrant Help – Migrant Help have developed an information site for asylum seekers to access resources and get help during covid-19. The link to the website is here.

Refugee Council – Webpage that details all changes to asylum and resettlement policy and practice in response to Covid-19. The link to the website is here.