This blog is to update our earlier blog of 20 March 2020 and covers in particular guidance from the Home Office for people whose immigration status may be affected by the virus. These are difficult and fast-moving times.
The Home Office has now published some guidance here.
The key points are that:
- 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 contact details are:
Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) Calls are free of charge.
Tier 4 student migrants can receive tuition by way of distance learning (in the UK or if they have returned home).
Tier 2 and 5 migrants can work from home without their sponsors needing to notify the Home Office.
Individuals will not be regarded as overstayers or be subject to enforcement action if they are unable to attend a biometric appointment due to Covid-19 or if there are delays in processing their applications. This is also confirmed on the UKVCAS website which lists which Sopra Steria service centres have closed.
Migrants in the UK wishing to switch into a long term visa category which would normally require them to make a visa application from abroad can apply from inside the UK.
The position for visa applicants outside the UK is tricky as many visa application centres are closed – see the Home Office website for further detail.
Individuals who normally report on a regular basis to the Home Office do not need to do so at present. Reporting has been temporarily suspended and those affected should receive a text about when they next need to report.
EU Settlement Resolution Centre
The centre’s phone lines are closed until further notice.
All current scheduled hearings are vacated. All appeals will proceed by way of a Case Management Hearing via telephone or Skype which will take place on a date to be notified in a time slot to be allocated.
As mentioned in the earlier blog the Upper Tribunal has vacated all its hearing. It has arrangements in place for the lodging of judicial review applications electronically. The Administrative Court has similar arrangements in place.
Legal Aid Agency
The Legal Aid Agency has also put in place arrangements to take into account the current changed working environment.
If you would like to discuss any of the above issues with one of our immigration solicitors, please contact a member of the team here.