Coronavirus UK Immigration Rules

May 27

Coronavirus UK Immigration Rules Update 5

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OTB Legal

The UK Home Office are continually reviewing their guidance on the immigration rules as the situation in relation to COVID-19 changes. Here is the latest update: 

 If you are in the UK 

Your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020

The Home Office have just confirmed an extension to the previous concession to the immigration rules which confirmed that those in the UK with leave expiring soon will have their leave automatically extended.

Home Office guidance now states that if you fall in the above category of migrant, your leave will be extended to 31 July 2020. This extension 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 request an extension by updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) through the following link:

https://gov.smartwebportal.co.uk/homeoffice/public/ho_form.html

If you have already had a visa extended to 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020.

You will be expected to return to your home country as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.

Applying to remain in the UK long term 

The Home Office have temporarily relaxed the immigration rules that require some migrants to return home to apply for a visa and have allowed them to apply in-country. This applies to those who are in the UK on short-term visas and whose leave is due to expire before the 31st July 2020. Some examples include:

  • A PBS Dependant applying as a Tier 2 (General) migrant
  • A visitor applying under the Partner route
  • An overstayed applying in-country where they would have otherwise had to leave the UK and re-apply i.e. where they cannot show insurmountable obstacles

The requirements for individual visas have not been relaxed, only the way in which you can apply.  

This includes those whose leave has already been extended to 31 July 2020

The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.

Application and Service Centres in the UK starting to re-open

For Applicants applying from within the UK, it has been announced that the appointment centres will begin a phased re-opening from the 1st June 2020. Attending an appointment centre is a crucial part of the application process and is when the Applicant’s biometrics are registered and uploaded documents are forwarded on to the Home Office to process the application.

The first people impacted by this will be those who had an appointment previously scheduled, but where this was cancelled due to the impact of the lockdown. Applicants who are in that position will receive an email explaining the next steps they need to take to rebook an appointment.

There have not been any announcements yet about Applicants who submitted their application after the appointment centres had already closed down. We will continue to provide updates about when Applicants who did not previously have a cancelled appointment can schedule one in the future.

If you are on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa and your business has been disrupted 

You no longer need to employ at least 2 people for 12 consecutive months each. The 12 month period you are required to employ someone for can be made up of multiple jobs across different months.

Time when your employees were furloughed will not count towards the 12 month period. If you have not been able to employ staff for 12 months in total by the time your visa expires, you will be allowed to temporarily extend your stay to give you time to meet the requirements.

If you have applied for a Tier 4 visa and are waiting for a decision on your application

You can start your course or studies before your visa has been decided if:

  • Your sponsor is a Tier 4 sponsor
  • You have been given a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
  • You submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • The course you start is the same as the one listed on your CAS
  • You have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required

If you have applied for a Tier 2 or 5 visa and are waiting for a decision on your application 

You can start work before your visa application has been decided if:

  • You have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • You submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • The job you start is the same as the one listed on you CoS

If you are working in the NHS 

Some of the frontline health workers and their families will get their visas automatically extended because of COVID-19. Further information can be obtained through the following link:
https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-frontline-health-worker-visa-extension

The Home Office has also relaxed some of the normal restrictions in relation to the place of work, supplementary work, the number of hours you can work or volunteer. Further information can be obtained through the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

Finally, the Home Office have also confirmed that NHS workers will benefit from not having to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which will represent a significant cost saving. The Immigration Health Surcharge is currently payable for short-term visas which are at least 6 months in duration. The current fee payable is £400 a year which will be going up to £624 a year from October 2020. There have been requests for the government to provide further clarity on the policy and whether the waiving of the fee extends to family members of NHS workers as well.

If you are outside the UK 

Visa Application Centres 

All UK Visa Application Centres remain closed. English Testing Centres are also affected.

If you are applying for a Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visa 

If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you have not been able to travel to the UK you may still be eligible for a visa. The Home Office advises that an application should be made as planned and the applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

If your 30 day visa to work, study or to join family has expired

If you 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year.

To make a request, you will need to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre whose details are below.

Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.

Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Calls to this number are free of charge within the UK.

Check call charges with your phone provider if you’re calling from abroad.

Our Previous Coronavirus Immigration Rules Updates

To catch up on all of our updates please see the links below:


Need advice?

As ever, we are available to give you a free initial consultation to address any concerns you have arising out of the Coronavirus immigration rules update in these difficult circumstances. You can book a chat with one of our friendly and knowledgeable legal advisors at a time to suit you.

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