Guidance

COVID-19: Guidance and advice for OISC regulated organisations and those seeking regulation

This page provides advice and guidance to organisations affected by the pandemic. It includes questions to the Commissioner and our responses. NOTE: Please send forms or documents to us by email where possible rather than by post to ensure they are processed promptly.

Documents

COVID-19: Guidance and advice for OISC regulated organisations and those seeking regulation

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.

Request an accessible format.
If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email info@oisc.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Details

Questions:

  • Should I continue to see clients?
  • Should we exclude workers or visitors from the workspace?
  • Can I work from home?
  • What should we do if staff are ill or in self-isolation and clients need work progressed?
  • Will the OISC be carrying out premise audits in the coming months?
  • Are competence assessments still going ahead?
  • I have received a letter approving my continued registration but not received my certificate. Do I need my certificate to continue to practice?
  • Will my OISC caseworker still be available to contact?
  • What should I do if I cannot access my office and information that I need to send to the OISC?
  • What work can Level 1 advisers do to assist clients whose leave may be affected by Covid 19?

Should I continue to see clients?

Government are providing advice for individuals and businesses about how to respond to the Coronavirus, visit gov.uk/coronavirus. We recommend that all advisers keep up to date and follow Government’ advice. While client’s may still need your advice and assistance, technology might be used to progress the client’s matter without the need for face to face meetings or unnecessary travel.

Should we exclude workers or visitors from the workspace?

Advice specifically for businesses and other organisations regarding your office and employees can also be found by visiting the gov.uk/coronavirus site.

Can I work from home?

Yes, there is no reason immigration advisers cannot work from home. As this is temporary, it is not necessary to formally change your place of work.

Information security is important, so we recommend that know your organisation’s policy for managing sensitive information. We would also advise that contact with clients is by phone or electronic communication wherever possible.

What should we do if staff are ill or in self-isolation and clients need work progressed?

As per the Code of Standards, organisations and immigration advisers should act in the best interest of their clients. Some useful guidance on how to provide cover in the absence of an adviser is available from the OISC website here.

If it is necessary for an organisation or an adviser to take an action in an emergency situation, which will mean acting beyond their level of authorisation, the organisation must ensure that the client agrees to their taking action on the case. They must also keep a note of the circumstances in which they acted.

We will take a proportionate view where organisations have had to make decisions due to a reduction in staff from Coronavirus. We encourage you to discuss your plans (such as supervision systems) with your OISC caseworker if you are concerned about providing cover for another immigration adviser.

Organisations that have used this difficult period to increase their areas of work or take advantage of clients, will be deemed to have acted in an unfit manner. We also remind you that OISC immigration advisers are not permitted to issue Judicial Review proceedings.

Will the OISC be carrying out premise audits in the coming months?

The OISC have introduced new processes for carrying our audits remotely and our new audit programme for 2021/22 will include remote audits as well as some premise visits where it is deemed necessary and safe to do so.

Are competence assessments still going ahead?

A new programme of OISC online assessments began in September 2020, replacing the previous assessment centres that were in operation. Details of the new assessment process can be found on the OISC website at the following link: OISC Competence Assessment OISC Competence Assessment

I have received a letter approving my continued registration but not received my certificate. Do I need my certificate to continue to practice?

The OISC are issuing certificates of registration but there may be a slight delay in receiving your certificate. Once your continued registration has been approved you remain on the register of OISC regulated advisers and can continue to practice, irrespective of whether you are awaiting your certificate.

Will my OISC caseworker still be available to contact?

Yes, all our caseworkers are set up to work from home, and this will continue for the foreseeable future.

However, access to the OISC office and post is limited so we request that all documents and communications are sent electronically.

What should I do if I cannot access my office and information that I need to send to the OISC?

Please e-mail your caseworker or the person at the OISC requesting the information if you are experiencing problems and they will work with you to agree what steps might be taken.

What work can Level 1 advisers do to assist clients whose leave may be affected by Covid 19?

Level 1 advisers may undertake the following areas of work:

• For clients whose leave expires by 30 June 2021 who want to leave the UK but are unable to do so, you may assist such clients in applying for additional time to stay known as ‘exceptional assurance’ or ‘exceptional indemnity’ by contacting the Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) on behalf of the client.

• Applications which will need to rely on Covid-19 related concessions including those offered regarding the financial requirements under Appendix FM where there is evidence of a temporary loss of income due to COVID-19 during the period 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2021. For further information on this please visit here

NOTE: Level 1 advisers cannot normally undertake work where the client has overstayed their current leave or where discretionary or concessionary policies need to be applied. However, some flexibility is applied to this principle relating to clients whose position is affected by Covid 19.

Published 24 March 2020
Last updated 24 June 2021 + show all updates
  1. Information across the page has been updated

  2. Advice re correspondence. During the coronavirus outbreak, we encourage you to send all forms or documents to us by email wherever possible rather than in the post. This is to make sure these are processed as promptly as possible.

  3. Information under "What work can Level 1 advisers do to assist clients whose leave may be affected by Covid 19?" updated.

  4. Updated information added to this section.

  5. UPDATED FAQs

  6. First published.