The purpose of this article is to provide you with the latest information regarding the operation of the Home Office and the policies in place for those with UK immigration matters affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Individuals in the UK with a visa expiring between 24 January and 31 May 2020
If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January and 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus. You will need to contact the Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Team to update your visa records. The Home Office will keep this under regular review in case further extensions are needed.
Switching immigration category in the UK
The restrictions on applying to switch into a long-term category within the UK have been lifted until 31 May. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country, for example, a visitor applying to stay as a spouse or as a Tier 2 Sponsored Skilled Worker.
Applicants must meet the same visa requirements and pay the associated Immigration Health Surcharge and visa fees.
The application is made online (see also the UKVCAS section below). The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided, including for those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020.
Tier 2 Furloughed Employees
A furloughed employee is one who remains in employment but who is not carrying out any work. If it is part of a company wide policy being applied equally to similar staff whether they are sponsored or a resident worker, then we would not expect there to be a negative impact to sponsored tier 2 workers placed on furlough.
Doctors, nurses and paramedics with Tier 2 permission
Doctors, nurses and paramedics whose visa permission is due to expire before 1 October 2020 will automatically have their visas extended, free of charge, for one year. The extension to NHS visas will be automatic and exempt from both visa fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The extension will also apply to the family members of affected Tier 2 workers.
The Home Office has further lifted the restriction on the amount of hours student nurses and doctors can work in the NHS, whilst extending the deadline for pre-registered overseas nurses to complete their first skills test to the end of the year.
UKVCAS application centres where applicants record their biometric data are presently closed and are unlikely to open for 6 weeks.
Clients should continue to lodge their applications and any further actions as usual, but it will not be possible to book a biometric appointment at this time. Your application will not be affected by the centres closing.
If you’ve already made an appointment to attend UKVCAS, you should by now have received an email advising that your appointment has been postponed for 6 weeks.
The Home Office has confirmed that individuals’ immigration status will not be negatively affected as a result of being unable to attend an appointment.
Priority and Super-priority service
The Home Office has withdrawn the Priority and Super-priority services as it is unable to meet application processing times set out in the respective service standards, i.e. 5-10 days for priority and 1-5 days for super-priority.
Life in the UK Test
All Life in the UK Test centres are closed until at least 13 April 2020 as a precautionary measure against coronavirus. If you have booked a test to take place during before 13 April, your test booking will be rescheduled automatically to a date thereafter.
If you are booking a new test, you should be able to book a date from 13 April 2020 but this is subject to change depending on the prevailing circumstances.
Individuals outside the UK
Most UK overseas applications centres are closed because of the pandemic.
Please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980 if you require assistance with your UK immigration affairs.