When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit globally, there were new guidelines released by the Home Office for travel and UK immigration law. If you were in the UK during this time and your visa expired between 24th January and 31st July 2020 but was not able to leave due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions or you needed to self-isolate, you were entitled to request an extension. However, as travel restrictions are now being lifted or relaxed, you are no longer able to apply for an extension on your visa for COVID-19 related reasons.
The coronavirus pandemic saw many changes to UK immigration laws, policies, and rules. But exactly how has UK immigration law been affected? In this article, we will highlight some of the areas that have changed and provide some advice for those who have been affected.
Applying for a Long-term Visa
Guidance has been published by the Home Office, to help anyone who wishes to apply for a long-term visa in the UK. If you are already in the UK, you are able to switch your visa by applying as normal. Despite COVID-19, this process has not changed.
Families and partners have been hugely affected by the many changes in UK immigration law, due to Coronavirus. If your partner was about to apply for a visa or is on a spouse visa UK, any loss of earnings as a direct result of COVID-19 may have meant that the family did not meet the financial requirements.
However, on 8th June the Home Office introduced new guidelines that anyone in this situation, their loss of earnings due to COVID-19 would be taken into consideration. The government will now consider the family’s income for the period before the loss of income due to COVID-19. Whether you were furloughed or laid off, you are covered in this new policy.
On 31st March, right at the beginning of the pandemic, the Home Office announced that many NHS workers would be entitled to a free one-year extension on their UK work visa. In addition, their family members would also be included, free of charge.
Furthermore, the Home Office announced that if an NHS worker died from COVID-19, their family would receive indefinite leave to remain (ILR), also free of charge. If you believe you are entitled to this and haven’t heard anything, you can contact the department on UKVINHSTeam@homeoffice.gov.uk. You can also visit this page [shorturl.at/orOW6] for more information on UK immigration and UK work permit.
Overseas Visa Applicants
If you are not in the UK currently and are based overseas, then you are still able to apply for a UK visa online. In addition, many of the visa application centres have reopened as restrictions are being lifted.
If you apply from overseas and your centre is closed, your application will be held there until the visa application centre reopens.
Fingerprints for Extensions
Due to the increased number of extensions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office has announced that they will no longer be asking applicants for fresh fingerprints every time they apply for an extension.
You are now able to reuse your previous set of fingerprints, as long as you send all the relevant supporting documents and provide a photo.
Coronavirus Immigration Helpline
The department has set up a Coronavirus UK Immigration Help Centre, to assist anyone who is facing difficulties due to the pandemic. You can email CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk or call the helpline on 0800 678 1767 during the hours of Mon to Fri, 9 am to 5 pm
If we haven’t mentioned your specific situation, you can find further guidance and policy changes. Keep an eye on regular updates to any new UK immigration laws and policies.
If you need any assistance with your UK Immigration application, contact us today! We will be our pleasure to help answer any questions you may have.