The UK Home Office are continually reviewing their guidance as the situation in relation to COVID-19 changes, and they have issued further guidance to businesses, universities, landlords and individuals. Here is your latest update:
If you are in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020:
Home Office guidance states that if you fall in the above category of migrant whose leave expires between 24 January and 31 May, your leave will be extended to 31 May. Unfortunately, this extension of leave has not been unilaterally rolled out without conditions. In order to qualify for an extension you must demonstrate:
- that you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions to your home country; or
- because you are self-isolating in accordance with the guidance.
You must inform the Home Office that you have remained in the UK if your leave expired after 24 January 2020, or if your leave is expiring before 31 May 2020. The Home Office had a dedicated Coronavirus Team that must be updated.
To update your records with the Home Office you should email CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk with the following information:
- your full name (include any middle names)
- date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
- your previous visa reference number
- why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed
The Home Office will contact you when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.
Closure of UKVCAS and SSC Centres
The appointment centres which must be attended to provide biometrics as part of the application process have all been temporarily closed. This does not prevent Applicants from making an application. However there will be a delay after submitting the online application as Applicants will be unable to provide their biometrics which is a necessary part of the process before the Home Office can reach a decision on applications. Priority and Super Priority Services for in-country applications have also now been suspended.
The Home Office notice on the online application forms currently read:
“Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the worldwide border, travel and public health restrictions our appointment locations are temporarily closed. You should complete your application and any further actions as usual. Your application will not be affected by the centres closing.
It is not possible to offer a Priority or Super Priority service, do not choose these services when you apply.”
Applying to remain in the UK long term
The Home Office have relaxed the rules that require some migrants to return home for a visa, for example, if you are a Tier 2 PBS dependent, who has obtained sponsorship under Tier 2 (General). If you intend to apply to switch in the UK, you must do this before 31 May 2020. The requirements for individual visas have not been relaxed, only the way in which you can apply. You will still therefore be required to meet the same visa requirements. You must apply online before 31 May, and whilst all UKVCAS centres are closed and you will not be able to attend a biometric appointment, you will not be negatively affected as a result. The crucial action is submitting your application whilst the concession applies.
If you are outside the UK and intended to apply for entry clearance
Most UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are now closed. For advice on visa services in your country, contact:
- TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
- VFS global for all other countries
VFS Global have confirmed that they are no longer accepting applications for entry clearance to the UK.
If you have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, you’ll be contacted and told your appointment will not take place.
English Testing Centres are also affected. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website or contact your test centre for more information.
Tier 2, 4 and 5 Sponsors
As sponsors, you do not need to report absences related to Coronavirus. This includes illness, self-isolation or inability to travel due to restrictions.
In addition to these changes, you are not required to withdraw sponsorship if a student is unable to attend for more than 60 days, or if a sponsored employee is absent without pay for more than 4 weeks. You do not need to report a change in working arrangements if your sponsored employee is working from home.
Right to Work Checks
Temporary changes to the right to work checks have been outlined. Whilst these checks still need to be carried out, they can now be completed remotely. From 30 March:
- Checks can be carried out over video conference;
- Job applicants and employees can send scanned or photographed documents by email or mobile app
Employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents
The Home Office aim to advise employers in advance of when these measures are due to end.
Right to Rent Checks
The changes to the right to rent checks are the same as the right to work checks, save for landlords contacting the Landlord’s Checking Service if a prospective or existing tenant cannot provide any of the existing documents. This means that right to rent checks can also be completed remotely.
Again there will be advance warning of when these measures will end.
Concessions for frontline NHS Workers
On the 31st March 2020, the Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics whose leave to remain expires before the 1st October 2020, would have their visas automatically extended for one year. The concession would also apply to the family members of these frontline NHS workers.
The government announcement suggests that 2,800 NHS staff will benefit from this concession. At present there is limited information as to the specific eligibility criteria that will be applied.
As ever, we are available to give you free advice to address any concerns you have arising out of the Coronavirus immigration rules update in these difficult circumstances. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 0330 111 6682 or visit our scheduling page on our website to book in a phone or video call with on of team here.