Writing a blog on the latest news on UK immigration and Covid-19 is difficult , even for London immigration solicitors, as the changes to UK immigration policy and practices are changing daily, sometimes news is released more than once a day. Accordingly this blog is up to date today but for advice on your particular immigration situation or query please call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.
If you are in the UK and on a visa
If you are in the UK on a visa and your visa expiry date is between the 24 January 2020 and the 31 July 2020 the Home Office has said that your visa will be extended if you cannot leave the UK due to:
Travel restrictions or
Self-isolation because of Covid-19.
If your visa is due to expire before the 31 July you may need to take action as the Home Office doesn’t automatically extend your visa – the onus is on you to ask your immigration solicitors to apply online for a visa extension.
The good news is that if you previously asked the Home Office to extend your visa to the 31 May because of the global pandemic and the special visa extension arrangements then the Home Office has said that it will automatically extend those visas to the 31 July without you or your immigration solicitors having to make a new online visa extension application.
It is a question of "watch this space" for whether the government will further extend visas under their coronavirus policy beyond the 31 July. One thing that this pandemic has taught us is that it is difficult to predict.
If you have any doubts about your immigration status and the extension of your visa it is best to take legal advice. That is because the Covid-19 visa extension policy says that visa holders are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK before the expiry of their visa where it is possible to do so.
If you don’t follow the guidance then this could backfire against you at a later date, for example, when you want to apply for a new long term visa or to apply to settle in the UK. Therefore, it is best to take specialist immigration legal advice on whether you should apply for a visa extension under the Covid-19 policy or make a long term visa extension application.
Time limits to apply from within the UK for long term visas
Under the immigration Rules many long term visa applicants are required to leave the UK to make their long term visa application from overseas. The Home Office has relaxed those immigration Rules because of Covid-19. However, to take advantage of this relaxation in the immigration Rules you have to submit your long term visa application to the Home Office by the 31 July 2020. This date could be extended by the Home Office but there are no guarantees that it will be.
Accordingly, if you know that you want to stay in the UK beyond the 31 July, then it may be in your best interests to bring the date for submission of your long term visa application forward so you don’t have to leave the UK to make your visa application.
Spouse visa applicants and meeting the financial requirement
To qualify for a spouse visa you have to meet a financial requirement as detailed in the immigration Rules. The financial requirement is complicated even when times are straightforward. The Home Office has recognised that many people’s personal and financial lives have been turned upside down because of Covid-19. That is through reductions in income through Redundancy, furlough or loss of self-employed income through the impact of lockdown.
The Home Office has announced that when it comes to spouse visas and the financial requirement it will:
Consider Employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income due to Covid-19 provided that the financial requirement was met for at least six months up to March 2020
If salary has reduced because of furlough, one hundred percent salary will still be taken into account when assessing the Spouse visa eligibility criteria and the financial requirement
For the self-employed who have suffered a loss of annual income because of Covid-19 from between the 1 March 2020 and the 31 July 2020 the loss of income will generally be disregarded as well as the impact on Employment income from the same period for future spouse visa applications.
Entry clearance to the UK and the 30 day rule
Normally if you secure UK entry clearance then you have a thirty day period within which to enter the UK. With travel restrictions and the requirement to self-isolate if there are fears that you may have Covid-19, arrival in the UK within the thirty day time period may not be possible.
The Home Office has said that if a thirty day UK entry clearance for travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is due to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised entry dates. This is free of charge until the end of 2020.
The policy does not apply to those planning to visit the UK on visitor visas.
UK immigration solicitors and your Covid-19 questions
If you are worried about Covid-19 and your:
Employment and right to work checks
Sponsored Employment, furlough and redundancy
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For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.
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Posted on: Thursday, 25 June, 2020