Sanwar Ali: UK Visa system as COVID-19 travel restrictions ease

Support migrant centric journalism today and donate

By Sanwar Ali:

The COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic is still affecting travel to and from the UK, after about one and half years since restrictions were first introduced.  In the UK the confusing and complicated green, amber and red list countries system, is used to determine travel restrictions for UK residents, and others arriving into the UK.  This system is to end on 4 October 2021 to be replaced by a simpler system.


Friday 17 September, 2021 announcement makes travel easier

Some people need to self-isolate for ten days when arriving in the UK.  There are also requirements to take tests.  On Friday 17 September a number of changes were announced that will make travel easier and cheaper for most people travelling in and out of the UK, including many migrants and their families, those wishing to go on holiday and visitors to the UK. 

There are many migrants, especially those in red list countries, who feel unable to travel to the UK due to the expenses and difficulties of doing so.  If you enter the UK from a red list country, you will need to pay for the quarantine hotel package which costs solo travellers £2,285.  Much more for families.  The number of red list countries is being reduced.  However, even after the changes, those arriving from red list countries will still need to stay in a quarantine hotel at great expense.  In many cases, if you have been in a red list country, it may be cheaper to travel to a safe country first, wait ten days, and then enter the UK.


Traffic light system for countries to be scrapped 4 October in England

Grant Shapps the transport secretary said on 17 September that the traffic light system will be scrapped to be replaced by one red list only.  In addition, those who are full vaccinated will no longer need to take pre-departure tests before travelling to the UK from non-red list countries.


Much cheaper testing for arrivals from 4 October

Vaccinated passengers from low-risk countries from 4 October 2021 will be able to take the much cheaper lateral flow test, rather than the privately administered PCR lab tests that are now required.  This will save a great deal of money for visitors, migrants and those returning from abroad.


Eight Countries to be removed from red list at 4am 22 September.

  • Turkey

  • Pakistan

  • The Maldives

  • Egypt

  • Sri Lanka

  • Oman

  • Bangladesh

  • Kenya


There are a significant number of people of immigrant ancestry in the UK from Pakistan and Bangladesh.  More than one million people of Pakistani ancestry and about half a million people of Bangladeshi ancestry.  So removal of these countries from the red list will be welcomed by many in the UK.  


Scotland will maintain tests for those entering the UK from overseas

Scotland has been taking a more restrictive attitude towards COVID-19.  The Scottish Government had the following to say.

“A UK government decision to implement proposals to remove the requirement for a pre-departure test in England and to use lateral flow tests on day two have not been adopted at this stage in Scotland due to significant concerns at the impact on public health."


Travel industry hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions

The simplified restrictions will be very much welcomed by the travel industry.  Testing and complicated rules have meant that recovery in air travel has been slow.  Compared to a number of other countries reco100,000 jobs have been lost in the travel industry.  The Government furlough scheme that has been keeping millions of people in work will also end from 30 September.  This is bound to lead to even more redundancies in the travel industry. can help with Sponsor Licences

If you need help with employing Skilled Workers and help to apply for a Sponsor Licence, including complying with your Sponsor Licence obligations, can help.

For more information and advice on Sponsor licences, please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at sends e-mail)