Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 03 April 2020)
Visa extensions and other concessions
If you are 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).
You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring and you were not planning to stay in the UK.
Replies to successful extension requests are worded as follows:
Your leave has been extended under existing conditions until 31 May 2020. You will not be regarded as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in any future applications. However, you must make plans to leave as soon as you are able to do so. This will only apply where you hold an existing valid visa which has already expired or is due to do between 24 January and 31 May.
The Immigration Law Practitioners Association has been provided with an additional Coronavirus (COVID-19) factsheet: visa holders and short-term residents in the UK.
The fact sheet is not a great advance on the public guidance, but adds that “individuals will be advised that UKVI have noted their details; they will not be subject to enforcement action; and this period will not be held against them in future applications”.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur
The latest version of the guidance says that people on a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur visa) whose business has been disrupted “no longer need to employ at least 2 people for 12 consecutive months each”. Multiple employees across the 12 months will do, although time on furlough will not count.
The guidance adds that “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.”.
In an update to the guidance on 3 April, the Home Office added that employers temporarily can cut the pay of sponsored employees to 80% of salary or £2,500 a month (whichever is lower). Although it is not spelled out, the implication is that if the salary drops below the minimum, sponsorship will not have to be withdrawn as it usually would be.
There is also a short section on what happens if a sponsor has issued a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) or confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and the person sponsored hasn’t used it to apply for a visa yet. It says, in full:
The employee or student will still be able to apply for a visa.
The start date for the course or employment stated on the CoS or CAS may have changed. We will not automatically refuse such cases.
For example, we may accept a CoS or CAS if they have become invalid because the employee or student was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. We will consider this on a case by case basis.
UK visa application centres
Outside the UK
All UK visa application centres overseas are closed.
A second Home Office fact sheet says that those with appointments at a closed visa centre should be contacted. Those awaiting a decision and who want their passport back should contact the company which runs the visa centre in question (either TLScontact or VFS Global).
There does not appear to be any special provision for people granted entry clearance who cannot now enter the UK before the visa expires. There is however a glimmer of hope for applicants with an endorsement in the Global Talent, Start-up and Innovator categories. Such people “may still be eligible for a visa” even if the endorsement has expired. They are encouraged to apply as planned, and the Home Office will “consider all applications on a case by case basis”.
Posted on Apr 02, 2020.
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