Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 15 September 2020)

General immigration policy rules

Some people who were in the UK when the pandemic hit were unable to leave before the expiry of their visa because of travel restrictions. The government had been extending people’s visas through a simplified online application process, but that concession is now pretty much at an end.

People requesting exceptional indemnity/assurance need to contact the coronavirus helpline to explain why they can’t leave by 31 October. The guidance emphasises that anyone whose leave expired before 31 August is too late to apply for exceptional assurance and “must make arrangements to leave the UK”.

Spouses and minimum income

Another group of people under particular pressure during the crisis is families where one partner is on, or about to apply for, a spouse visa. Loss of earnings as a result of the coronavirus-induced economic crash may mean that the family fall foul of the financial requirements.

Previously there was no published concession for people in this situation. There is now a section of the guidance on Changes to the minimum income and adequate maintenance requirement. It says:

If you’ve experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus up to 31 August, we will consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income due to coronavirus, provided the requirement was met for at least 6 months up to March 2020.

If your salary has reduced because you’re furloughed, we will take account of your income as though you’re earning 100% of your salary.

If you’re self-employed, a loss of annual income due to coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 will generally be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.

NHS workers

The Home Office announced on 31 March that around 2,800 doctors, nurses and paramedics with leave due to expire by 1 October would get a free one-year extension. Family members are included and there are no fees involved.

Anyone whose visa expires after 1 October 2020 will have to pay for an extension as normal.

Posted on Sep 14, 2020.

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