The world is going through a global pandemic called “Coronavirus (COVID -19)”. In such times when the virus has made inroads in more than 150 countries including some of the countries that are worst hit like China, the USA, Italy, Spain, and the UK and has already infected millions and caused thousands of deaths, there are concerns about immigration-related issues as well. What will be the impact of the Coronavirus on UK immigration is a question in many people’s minds. The UK has also imposed travel bans to and from several countries. Within the country, Coronavirus is impacting almost every aspect of society including immigration. So, nothing can be said as conclusive as to what is going to be the impact of coronavirus on UK immigration because it is an evolving situation. So, let us see some of the crucial immigration facts that have emerged so far related to UK immigration in the Corona Virus time.
What if my visa is expiring?
Coronavirus had started from the city of Wuhan in China. So, earlier in February 2020, the decision was taken for Chinese citizens whose visa was expiring and they had to leave the UK. They could not leave the UK because of travel restrictions to and from the as a containment process of the virus outbreak.
Now as the situation worsened in the UK and across the globe there is travel restrictions for several other country’s nationals and self-isolation advisory in place for the infected ones as well.
On March 24 the decision has been taken that all those whose visa expires between 24th January 2020 and 31st March 2020, their visa will be extended to 31st May 2020.
If you are one of those you need to contact the CIT (Coronavirus Immigration Team) and update them about your record. You need to provide the followings:
– Your full name
– Your Date of Birth
– Your Nationality
– Your previous visa reference number
– The reason for you not being able to go to your country. For example, your country has banned all the arrivals from the UK.
Impact on switching visa
If you were looking to apply from within the UK to switch to another visa to stay for the long term in the UK then you can apply now up to 31st May 2020. For example, switching from Tier 4 (Student visa) to Tier 2 General worker visa. You must note here that the “long term” here does not mean you can apply for the ILR. Apart from the extension of the time allowed to apply all other visa requirements, mode of application and application fee remain the same.
Impact on sponsoring foreign workers norm
In hard times like these when almost all international travels are banned, there is a change in absence rule as well. This applies to the sponsoring organizations to foreign students and workers. This means for the period sponsoring organisations sponsoring students and foreign workers don’t need to report the absence of the students and workers that have happened because of the Coronavirus.
Sponsorship of affected students who have not been able to attend classes for more than 60 days will not be withdrawn. Students under the Tier 4 visa category can now opt for distance learning.
Affected employees who have exceeded 4 weeks of absence without pay will also be given relief as their sponsorship will also not be withdrawn. Companies, where Tier 2 and Tier 5 workers have been asked to work from home, don’t need to report it to the Home Office provided this provision was made because of the Coronavirus outbreak only.
There will be no charge made for NHS treatment for the “Wuhan novel coronavirus” irrespective of the immigration status of the patient.
Other useful information critical in these times related to immigration are the following:
- Because of shutdown in the UK, all visa application centres within the UK remain closed as of 31st May.
- There has been Coronavirus helpline set up also. The email id is CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk and the telephone number is 08006781767. Please note that you can call or write an email on the phone number and email id mentioned here only if you have a query related to immigration provisions related to Coronavirus problem.
- All the Immigration tribunal hearings will be done remotely from 25th March 2020 onward via video conferencing and phone hearings. There will be no face to face hearings.
Though the Coronavirus pandemic has led to the shutdown of offices in the UK as well we continue to work from home and thus we are available to your service especially for critical information and services. You can contact us through phone, email and social media platforms to seek whatever required related to immigration issues. The situation is still evolving and hopefully will get over soon. But we continue to be at your service.
The information has been gathered from the www.gov.uk website.