Covid-19 – an immigration update
In their latest published guidance, the Home Office has granted some limited relief to the visa status of UK based overseas-nationals. Travel restrictions resulting from the outbreak of Covid-19 mean that in some cases, foreign nationals are prohibited from returning to their country of origin.
For many individuals, these restrictions could mean overstaying their leave to remain in the UK. The Home Office has therefore determined that in order to alleviate some of the risk to affected individuals, Chinese nationals will be given an automatic extension to their visas up to 31 March 2020. Non-Chinese, and non-EEA nationals who are normally resident in China are also eligible for the extension, subject to their ability to demonstrate their usual residency in China. It is not clear under the current guidance whether this relief will be available to nationals or residents of other countries however we expect that this will be extended to nationals of other countries in due course.
Absences from study or work
In addition, the Home Office has introduced a measure to combat unforeseen absences from study or employment due to illness, quarantine or travel restrictions.
Sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which they have authorised. Additionally, sponsors will not be required to withdraw sponsorship if they consider there are exceptional circumstances when:
- a student will be unable to attend for more than 60 days;
- an employee is absent from work without pay for four weeks or more.
This policy will be kept under review by the Home Office.
Pending leave to remain applications
For those with pending leave to remain applications, biometrics appointments are currently still going ahead, however applicants are advised not to attend appointments if they are experiencing symptoms. These individuals should notify Sopra Steria with the subject heading ‘Covid-19’ and include details of the unique application number, location, date and time. Sopra Steria will refund the fee and update the Home Office accordingly.
Find all our Covi-19 related advice here.
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