COVID-19 Impact on UK Immigration General Update
The UK continues to be in a full lockdown with everyone except key workers requested by the government to remain at home and avoid any travel or going out except for medical appointments or essential supplies.
The pandemic itself and control measures against it continue to impact on UK immigration matters as well as global immigration authorities and policies. Individual companies, including Santa Fe UK, and its employees are affected by this, as governments and other bodies react to the changing situation and advice.
Who will be affected?
- Students who are waiting for the decision on their Tier 4 application.
- Employees and sponsors who are waiting for the decision on Tier 2 applications.
- Doctors, nurses or paramedics working or volunteering in the NHS.
- Tier 2 visa holders who are not in the UK.
- Clients requiring legalisation of documents by the FCO.
- UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An individual’s immigration status will not be negatively affected as a result of them not being able to attend an appointment.
- If an individual has already made an appointment to attend a UKVCAS service point, or a Service and Support Centre (SSC), they will be contacted and told what to do next. Their immigration status will not be negatively affected as a result of them not being able to attend an appointment.
- Once an applicant has submitted their application online, the terms of their leave will remain the same as they were at the point of application. Applicants will be in the UK lawfully and no-one will be subject to immigration action if they are unable to attend a biometric appointment or if there are delays in processing their application.
- The FCO has resumed its services at a reduced capacity, however the Premium Service is not yet available. All current applications will be processed using the Standard Service. Processing time is a minimum of a week.
- Tier 2 visa holders who cannot return to the UK before their visa ends because they wish stay in their home country or their employer requests them to work aboard, may be caught by the cooling-off period, which may stop them returning to the UK on a Tier 2 visa for 1 year. However, this does not apply if their salary is more than £159,600 for Tier 2 General visa or more than £120,000 for Tier 2 ICT visa or their CoS was granted for less than 3 months. It is hopeful that discretion will be exercised for applicants who fall outside the example above.
- The measures described above have already been implemented.
Next Steps (or) Actions Required:
- For applicants who are waiting for a decision on their Tier 4 student application, sponsors may allow students to start their studies before their visa application has been decided if sponsors are a Tier 4 sponsor (other than Tier 4 Legacy Sponsors), sponsors have assigned the student a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), the student submitted their application before their current visa expired and has shown their sponsor evidence of this, the course they start is the same as the one listed on their CAS, the student has a valid ATAS certificate if required.
- Tier 2 Sponsors may allow employees to start work before their visa application has been decided if sponsors have assigned them a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS); the employee submitted their visa application before their current visa expired; the role they are employed in is the same as the one on their CoS. Sponsors reporting responsibilities for an employee start from the date the sponsor has assigned the applicant a CoS.
- Individual visas for doctors, nurses or paramedics working or volunteering in the NHS will be automatically extended by one year if it is due to expire before 1 October 2020. Family members with a visa due to expire before 1 October 2020 will also have their visa extended. The extension is free, and they will not have to pay the immigration health surcharge. Individuals do not need to apply. The Home Office will contact NHS employers to identify staff eligible for this extension and will notify the individual and their employer if they have received an automatic extension. There is no longer a limit on the number of hours an individual can work or volunteer each week if they work for the NHS as a doctor, nurse or paramedic and they are a Tier 4 student; Tier 2 worker and their NHS job is a second job; visiting academic researcher; holder of a short-term visa and are permitted to volunteer. If an individual is a pre-registration nurse currently in the UK, the deadline for them to sit the Occupational Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been extended to 31 December 2020.
Santa Fe Analysis:
- Subject to temporary closure of UKVCAS, SSCs, test centres, and suspension of UKVI Priority Services and Super Priority Services, Santa Fe UK will be happy to assist any client in verifying or investigating individual queries.
- We notify our clients that there may be delays in doing so as government offices and foreign consulates may take action without prior notice, so we recommend taking action sooner rather than later.
Should you have any questions, please contact the following:
Koshi Blavo Barna
UK Head of Immigration
Santa Fe Relocation UK
Tel.: +44 0203 457 3595
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