LS Legal News Bulletin
Q&A Relating to the Updates Announced by the Home Office in light of COVID-19 published on 25 March 2020
Friday 27th March 2020
Please find below some of the questions we have been asked in relation to the recent announcement by the Home Office in light of COVID-19 and the answers below:
Q: I am unable to leave the UK due to travel restrictions/self-isolation related to COVID-19 and my visa is expiring between 24 January 2020 to 31 May 2020, what does this mean for me?
A: If you are unable to leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus, the Home Office will extend your visa until 31 May 2020. In order to extend your visa, you will need to contact the Home Office, who will be able to confirm the details of your extended visa. This will not have any impact on your visa in the UK and there will not be any enforcement action taken against you in the future.
Q: I am on a temporary visa in the UK and I wish to switch to a long-term visa in the UK?
A: You will now be able to switch to a long-term visa in the UK until 31 May 2020 without having to depart from the UK and apply from your home country. However, you will need to meet the visa requirements of the relevant route and you will also need to pay the application fee.
Q: I am a Tier 4 Student or Tier 2/5 employee and I am concerned about missing my Studies and unable to travel to work. Will this affect my Sponsorship?
A: The Sponsor will not need to report your absences to the Home Office if they are related to coronavirus pandemic and you are unable to attend due to coronavirus outbreak however, your absences must be authorised by the Sponsor.
Q: As a Sponsor I'm obliged to report my Student/Employee's absences to the Home Office?
A: If your Student is absent for their studies for more than 60 days due to coronavirus, then you do not need to withdraw sponsorship or report their absences to the Home Office. Similarly, if your employee is absent from work without pay for 4 weeks or more, you do not need to withdraw sponsorship or report their absence to the Home Office.
Q: Can I withdraw my Sponsorship?
A: It is a decision by the Sponsor whether they wish to terminate an employment or withdraw a Student from their studies. The Home Office will not take any compliance action against a Sponsor who has authorised employees' absence and continues to employ them due to coronavirus pandemic. Similarly, the Home Office will not take any compliance action against a Student who is unable to attend their studies due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Q: Can I switch to distance learning teaching methods as a Tier 4 Sponsor?
A: You are now permitted by the Home Office to offer distance learning courses to Tier 4 Students without having to obtain a permission from the Home Office. This also applies to existing Tier 4 Students who have decided to return to their home country and continue with their studies from abroad.
The new international students who wish to apply for a course by distance learning, they do not need to travel to the UK and therefore they do not require a Tier 4 Student sponsorship. They can study a distance learning course in their home country.
Though, please note the above arrangements will only apply until 31 May 2020 and the Home Office will review this arrangement after 31 May 2020.
Q: Can I work from home if I'm a Tier 2 or Tier 5 Worker?
A: Yes, you can work from due to the coronavirus pandemic. Your Sponsor will not be required to report such circumstances to the Home Office as long as it is related to COVID-19.
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