6 May 2020

Visa Issues and COVID-19

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How is Covid-19 effecting visa extensions in the UK and entry clearance applications

Government has introduced a new set of guidelines to address Immigration issues related to Coronavirus lockdown which says:

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 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 (COVID-19). To get this extension, those affected must fill in an online form.

It is important to note that making a request under this guidance does not extend your 3C leave and if you do not get a reply before your visa expires you may be considered an overstayer. Therefore, where necessary you should make an application to extend your visa in a normal way if the home office does not confirm your extension in time.

If you already have your visa expired on or after 24th January 2020 there is no further harm in waiting.

If you’re applying to stay in the UK long-term

You can apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May 2020. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.

You will need to meet the requirements of the route you are applying for and pay the UK application fee. This includes those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020.

You can apply online. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.

This was not possible in certain categories previously. For example, if you were on a visitor visa you were not allowed to switch to almost any other category including student (Tier 4) category. It seems now in-country switching is possible. This is applicable at least until 31st May 2020. This deadline may be extended if lockdown continues beyond this date.

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.

The 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 requirement.

These arrangements will continue for applications made after 31 May 2020, where the jobs you are relying on were disrupted due to COVID-19.

Please note that if you have made your staff furloughed you cannot include this time towards 12 months period

If you are working for the NHS

Some frontline health workers and their families will get their visas automatically extended because of coronavirus for at least one year provided visas are expiring on or before 01 October 2020. Dependents will also be included in this free visa extension. Unfortunately, if you visa is expiring after 01 October 2020 you will have to apply for extension in a normal way.

If you are outside the UK

All UK Visa Application Centers (VACs) are closed. For updates to the status of VACs in your country, contact: · TLS contact if you are in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East · VFS global for all other countries

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

Entry clearance applicants are generally granted 30 days visa to enter the UK. Once they have entered, they can collect their biometric card from their designated post office within the UK.

If your 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, contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. You will need to include

  • your name,
  • nationality,
  • date of birth
  • and your GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line.

You will be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in your passport. You will not be penalised for being unable to collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place

This process will be in place until the end of 2020.

Cannot sit English Language test or Life in the UK exam

If you cannot obtain relent English language and life in the UK test and you have a deadline to extend your visa, please make sure that application is made in time. At the moment you cannot book an appointment to attend appointment centres therefore you will have time to sit these tests once test centres are open. If there is a delay in sitting one of these tests ( which may be the case due to appointment backlogs) please inform the home office immediately and request them to put a decision on hold until the relevant document is provided in a reasonable time frame.

For entry clearance, unfortunately, there is no other option but to wait until exam centres are open. For more details please visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website or contact your test centre for more information.

If you have any further questions related to your visa specifically, please contact us and our experts will be very happy to help.

Disclaimer:

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.

About the Author

Awais Javed
Awais has an extensive experience of advising high net-worth individuals on all types of immigration matters, ranging from investor and entrepreneur visa applications to appeals and judicial reviews in the Immigration Tribunal and the High Court.

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