Are you legally in the UK & does your Visa expire by 31st MAY 2020?
You can now stay until 31st JULY 2020 -DRSI LAW
On May 22, the Home Office provided some uplifting news for those who have Visas which are due to expire by the 31st May, 2020.
As per their previous guidance, whereby those whose visas were due to expire by 1st May but were unable to leave due to the current travel lockdown and were, therefore, able to apply for an automatic extension till 31st May, the Home Office has now delivered on many migrant’s uncertainties and has extended their visas until the 31st July.
What does this mean for the visa holder? In simple words- if you are stuck in the UK due to travel restrictions, the Home Office shall not count your physical presence in the UK according to the regular 180 days per year. If you cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions, you can request an additional visa extension till the 31st July and remain in the same immigration status. Ie – a tourist will remain restricted to no work and a Tier 2 permit holder is permitted to continue his employment even though his visa has effectively ended.
Please note: If you have already had your visa extended to 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020, and there is no need to resubmit this form.
The authorities have stated that if it is safe to return to your home country, they do continue to recommend this.
Furthermore – if you are interested in SWITCHING to a Long Term Visa – You will be permitted to apply to switch now from within the UK. In regular times, most switching or visa changes needed to be processed from your home Country, but under COVID19 travel restrictions, the danger of sending a foreigner back to his home country to only come back into the country is too great. The Immigration accepted that switches can now be done from within the UK during these unique circumstances and until July 31st.
As always, DRSI-LAW is keeping up to date with the current situation and regularly updating our clients and our website.
UK Immigration have published COVID-19 Travel
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) published guidance on GOV.UK on immigration provisions for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). These changes are now in effect and full details are available at gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents
- No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future.
- A visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if an individual cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to advise of their situation.
- The Coronavirus Immigration Team will update relevant details on UKVI databases. 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.
- This requirement to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team applies to individuals of any nationality whose leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 30 May 2020.
Switching to a long-term UK visa
- During these unique circumstances individuals will be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May. This includes applications where they would usually need to apply for a visa from their home country.
- They will need to meet the requirements of the route they are switching into and pay the UK application fee.
- Those whose leave expires between 24 January and 31 May 2020, including those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020, are eligible to apply .
- They can apply online.
- Some Tier 4 students or Tier 2/5 employees may be prevented from attending their studies or employment due to illness, the need to serve a period of quarantine or the inability to travel due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus.
- Sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which they have authorized.
- Sponsors do not need 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
- Decisions on whether to withdraw a student from their studies or terminate an employment are for sponsors to make. The Home Office recognizes the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorize absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason.
Tier 4 sponsors
- We are aware that many Tier 4 sponsors have switched to distance learning teaching methods due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Sponsors are not normally permitted to offer distance learning courses to Tier 4 students. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, we will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies.
- Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances. If a student has permanently withdrawn from, or formally deferred, their studies, the usual reporting requirements apply.
- New international students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.
- New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4.
- Sponsors are not required to notify the Home Office where they have moved to distance learning provision.
- These arrangements apply initially until 31 May, by which date they will be reviewed. Further advice for sponsors will be issued in the near future.
Tier 2 and 5 sponsors
- We are aware that many workers sponsored under the Tiers 2 and 5 immigration routes are now working from home rather than their normal workplace due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Tiers 2 and 5 sponsors are normally required to notify us of such changes of circumstances. However, due to the current exceptional situation, we will not require sponsors to do so if working from home is directly related to the pandemic. Other changes must still be reported as usual.
For further details, please visit Gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents