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McGill & Co is a Scottish immigration law firm specialising in UK immigration, nationality and refugee law.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) factsheet: visa holders and short-term residents in the UK

26 March 2020 Grace McGill Blog

The Home Office has published guidance on GOV.UK on immigration provisions for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Visa holders in the UK:

No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future.

A visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if an individual cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus COVID-19 BUT  Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to advise of their situation.

This requirement to contact Coronavirus Immigration Team applies to individuals of any nationality whose leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 30 May 2020.

Individuals who cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation and wish to stay in the UK in the long-term would ordinarily need to apply for a visa from their home country.

 Where individuals would normally be required to return to their country of residence to apply for a visa in a different category, they’ll now be able to apply from the UK to switch.

 Individuals will need to be switching from/to a published eligible route and will need to meet the same visa requirements and pay the same application fee.

 This includes those whose leave has been auto-extended to 31 March 2020.

Applicants can apply online as usual and select a biometric submission appointment to attend if they are able to in line with public health guidance. We will process applications as quickly as we can but there are likely to be delays due to Covid-19. The terms of their leave will remain the same until their application is decided.

Individuals will not be regarded as an overstayer or be subject to enforcement action if they are unable to attend a biometric appointment due to Covid-19 or if there are delays in processing your application.

Please check www.ukvcas.co.uk for up to date advice on UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres.

Students in the UK

Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, we will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances. If a student has permanently withdrawn from, or formally deferred, their studies, the usual reporting requirements apply.

New international students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.

New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4.

These arrangements apply initially until 31 May, by which date they will be reviewed.

Workers

We are aware that many workers sponsored under the Tiers 2 and 5 immigration routes are now working from home rather than their normal workplace due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tiers 2 and 5 sponsors are normally required to notify us of such changes of circumstances. However, due to the current exceptional situation, we will not require sponsors to do so if working from home is directly related to the pandemic. Other changes must still be reported as usual.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has set up a dedicated email account for customers with immigration queries related to coronavirus, including questions about urgent, compelling, compassionate cases. Customers can contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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