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LS Legal News Bulletin

The lockdown is not over yet – Home Office publishes its updated coronavirus advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

The lockdown is not over yet - Home Office publishes its updated coronavirus advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

Thursday 28th May 2020

It has been 2 months since the emergency measures as a result of COVID-19 were introduced in the UK. The recent announced easements of the unprecedented lockdown have been a subtle positive indication that the country is on its way to recovery.

The government issued an update on 22 May 2020 in relation to the UK immigration advice for visa applicants and temporary UK residents. It was revealed that the temporary immigration measures introduced in late March 2020 as an emergency response to COVID-19 outbreak will be extended until 31 July 2020.

At LS Legal Solicitors, we believe that it is important to keep you informed and updated. Therefore, we have prepared a short review of the announcement. We will start our review with the information for those who are currently in the UK and then will move onto those Applicants applying from outside the UK.

Extension of visas as an emergency

Those individuals in the UK whose leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 and who are not able to leave before their visa expires due to travel restrictions or self-isolation related to COVID-19 will now be able to request their visas to be extended until 31 July 2020. If an individual has already been granted an extension until 31 May 2020, then their visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020.

This provision taken by the government offers help to those who are currently in the UK on temporary visas, such as visitor visas, and who are unable to get home prior to 31 July 2020. The Home Office has also clarified that an extension must be requested by completing an online form therefore, LS Legal Solicitors is here to assist those individuals who require help with an extension.

Applying for visas to stay in the UK long-term

Those who are planning to stay in the UK long-term are now able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term visa until 31 July 2020, if their leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020. This provision covers applications normally made from a home country which means that it is possible to make an application to switch into long term visas whilst remaining in the UK.

It has been made clear that these emergency measures taken by the government have not been designed to remove any of the Immigration Rules requirements therefore, every application must meet the compulsory requirements and the application fee must be paid. The applications can be submitted online.

We strongly advise to submit your application for an extension of leave or Indefinite Leave to Remain before the expiry of your current leave. The Home Office continues to process applications, although the process may take longer than usual due to COVID-19 operational pressures. We are pleased to confirm that LS Legal Solicitors can assist you with your applications as usual at any time.

Biometric data submission

The UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) remain temporarily closed until further notice due to COVID-19. It is not possible to book an appointment to submit mandatory biometric details. Those who already made an appointment to attend a UKVCAS or an SSC are now being contacted to re-schedule their appointment.

News for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Migrants whose businesses has been disrupted by the COVID-19

It has been announced that there is no need to employ at least 2 people for 12 consecutive months each for those on Tier 1 Entrepreneur route. Whilst the 12-month period can be made up of multiple jobs across different months, the time when employees were furloughed will not count towards the 12-month period.

The good news is that those who have not been able to employ staff for 12 months in total by the time their leave expires, will be allowed to temporarily extend their stay to be able to meet the requirement. The Home Office has promised that these arrangements will continue for applications made after 31 May 2020, where the jobs to be relied on were disrupted due to COVID-19.

LS Legal Solicitors specialise in Tier 1 applications and we will be able to address any immigration or business issues that might come your way, coronavirus related or not.

Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa applicants who are waiting for a decision

In light of the current advice on self-isolation and social distancing, the Home Office is waiving a number of requirements on visa sponsors, such as allowing non-EU nationals in the UK under work or study routes to undertake their work or study from home.

Tier 4 applicants whose outstanding applications are still to be decided can start their course or studies, if:

• their sponsor is a Tier 4 sponsor;
• they have been given a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS);
• they submitted an application before expiration of the current leave and sponsor was provided with the evidence accordingly;
• the course is the same as the one listed on the CAS; and
• a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate is obtained if required.
It must be emphasised that in the case of refusal or rejection of the application, the course or studies must be stopped.

Tier 2 or 5 visa applicants can commence work before their application is decided, if:

• a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) has been assigned;
• an application was submitted before expiration of the current leave and sponsor was provided with the evidence accordingly; and
• the job is the same as the one listed on the CoS.

As usual, if the application is refused or rejected as invalid, the sponsor will stop sponsoring the applicant and they must stop working in these circumstances.

LS Legal Solicitors has an extensive experience with Tier 2, 4 and 5 applications, and we will be delighted to provide you with guidance.

NHS workers

Some frontline health workers and their families will get their visas automatically extended. There are also changes to the conditions of visas for some frontline health workers. These changes will apply for those working for the NHS or independent health and care providers as a:

• biochemist
• biological scientist
• dental practitioner
• health professional
• medical practitioner
• medical radiographer
• midwife
• nurse
• occupational therapist
• ophthalmologist
• paramedic
• pharmacist
• physiotherapist
• podiatrist
• psychologist
• social worker
• speech and language therapist
• therapy professional

It is advisable to check with employer whether a profession is the eligible one.

NHS workers can work at any NHS hospital during the coronavirus outbreak if their sponsor can maintain their sponsorship duties however, Sponsors will be liable to notify the UKVI about the change in place of work.

Supplementary work in any role at any skill level can be carried out during the coronavirus outbreak with no restriction on the number of hours.

Changes to the current restrictions on the number of hours

There is no longer a limit on the number of hours for work for:

• tier 4 students;
• tier 2 workers with NHS job as a second job;
• visiting academic researchers; and
• holders of a short-term visa who are permitted to be volunteer.

For those on a pre-registration nurse in the UK, the deadline to sit the Occupational Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been extended until 31 December 2020. If first attempt is not successful, the exam can be passed until 31 May 2021.

We have outlined the main points of the policy for those in the UK. If you got this far, please keep reading to find out about the developments in connection to the UK visa applications outside of the UK.

Visa Application Centres and English Testing Centres

VACs remain closed until further notice due to COVID-19. Those applicants who already had an appointment are being contacted and being informed that the appointment will not take place. It will be possible to re-arrange the appointment when VACs reopen. In addition, the English Test Centres have been also affected and most of them are also closed until further notice.

What about passport return service?

The passport return service may not be available at this time due to worldwide border, travel and public health restrictions. If submitting your passport is required, then an Applicant should contact the relevant visa application centre to check whether the service is available in that particular location.  

Endorsements expiration

Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visa applicants can still apply for Entry Clearance, if an endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because it was not possible to travel to the UK. These applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

Entry Clearance expiration

In cases where a 30-day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, a replacement visa with revised validity dates can be requested free of charge until the end of this year.
To make a request, the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre needs to be contacted with details including applicant's name, nationality, date of birth and GWF reference number with 'REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA' in the subject line. Once VACs re-open, all Applicants who made such requests will be contacted to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed.

Visitor visa

For the time being the procedure for replacement of a 30-day Entry Clearance visa is not applicable to visitor visas. The updated guidance does not mention visitors and whether they will be required to apply again if they were not able to use their visa due to COVID-19 outbreak.

BRP collection

The Home Office has clarified that no one will be penalised for being unable collect their BRP card while coronavirus measures are in place until the end of 2020.
Please refer to the full guidance for further information by using the following Link

We are committed to keep up with the new changes and updates in the UK Immigration, so please remember to visit our website regularly to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest Immigration news.

Please feel free to email us your questions to info@lslegaluk.com or give us a call on 02081445588 to discuss any legal matter.

We are always happy to help you.