Awaiting Home Office update on
23 March 2020
The latest guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with COVID-19 was updated on 27 February 2020. This communication provides advice specific to Chinese nationals and makes provision for certain people in the UK whose immigration status is affected by the coronavirus outbreak to receive an automatic extension of their visa until 31 March 2020.
However, the ongoing impact of COVID-19 is affecting an increasing number of overseas foreign nationals who either wish to extend their stay in the United Kingdom or enter the country to take up residence and/or employment.
Many individuals and businesses are genuinely concerned about inadvertently breaching UK immigration laws during the current crisis and are anxiously awaiting clarity from the Home Office.
Aside from the measures introduced for Chinese nationals, there has been radio silence from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) in regards to the approach they will adopt in the short-term. However, given the recent escalation, we are expecting more inclusive and detailed measures to be announced by the government this week.
To safeguard all individuals impacted by the current pandemic, the UKVI will need to be able to provide clarity on a number of issues including:
- What should visa holders do if they are unable to travel to the UK within the initial 30-day period typed on their UK visa vignette?
- What happens to those visa holders who, due to sickness or travel restrictions, are unable to return to the UK ahead of the expiry of their visa?
- Will those overseas nationals unable to leave the UK or apply to extend their stay before the current expiry of their visas be deemed as overstayers?
- Will the UKVI continue to enforce the need for certain overseas nationals to register/update Police Registration Certificates within seven days?
- What flexibility will be shown to employers in relation to upholding physical right to work checks as well as sponsor licence compliance and reporting requirements during the current crisis?
As soon as the Home Office provides clarification on the approach it will take in regards to these issues, we will provide our clients with an update. In the meantime, should you have concerns or additional questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Smith Stone Walters.