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Woman waiting in a long line for a flight wearing a N95 face mask during a global pandemic

Vanessa Ganguin

All your COVID-19 UK Immigration and travel questions answered

Updated 18 October 2021

We have done our best to answer the main UK immigration and arrival questions thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic. These are based on the major urgent questions firms, individuals and families have been contacting us with, as well as the latest Home Office updates.

We have divided our FAQ on UK immigration and travel during the pandemic into questions specifically for employers and sponsors, and below these some more general questions.

Quarantine measures have now been lifted for the majority of vaccinated arrivals (see Covid FAQ for individuals, below).

If you have any other questions you would like to add, or for any more clarification, please do contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

COVID-19 FAQs for sponsoring employers

Can firms still conduct right to work checks without seeing someone in person due to coronavirus measures?

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Home Office have allowed remote right to work checks. This means employers do not need to lose out on statutory protection against illegal working penalties if new joiners send scanned copies of their evidence, then hold the originals up to camera on a video call, with dated records kept of these checks.

The Home Office concession allowing remote checks has now been extended once again until 5 April 2022. This will be a relief for HR staff who did not relish insisting on in person checks for prospective staff before social distancing measures are lifted.

From 6 April onwards, prospective employees will still be able to send their original documents by post or courier and employers check their likeness over a videocall if that is preferable to an in person check. Though not everyone may feel comfortable entrusting important documents to a courier service. There will be a further announcement regarding the situation from 6 April.

The Home Office has also confirmed that employers do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022.

Do, as always, be aware that while third parties such as recruiters and professional advisers may provide systems for such checks, the responsibility for conducting them (and the consequences for not conducting them) remains with the employer, according to the Home Office.

Employers must take care not get caught by changes. Since lockdowns have ended, the Home Office has resumed compliance visits as well as issuing fines for right to work check breaches.

For any more questions on right to work checks and compliance, do call 0207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

Can sponsored staff work from abroad due to the pandemic?

This is a question that often comes up. The answer is yes, although, sponsors will need to ensure they continue to meet their record keeping, reporting and other sponsor duties throughout the time the employee is working overseas.

Sponsors should make a report on the Sponsorship Management System notifying UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) of the temporary change of work location.

The employee will also need to be careful to ensure that their absences do not exceed the 180 day (in any 12 month rolling period) threshold. Although note that changes to the Immigration Rules that came into effect from 1 December 2020 specify that absences due to travel disruption related to a pandemic will not be counted towards the 180 day limit.

Employees should retain evidence of any travel disruption to support future applications for indefinite leave to remain.

Can firms postpone a skilled worker's start date?

Normally once a CoS has been assigned the employee only has three months to submit the online visa or leave to remain application form. The Home Office has stated that applications submitted beyond the three months will not be automatically refused, if for example the individual was unable to travel. This will be looked at on a case by case basis. If a sponsored employee is in this position it is still worth submitting the application. If the application is approved the sponsor will be able to extend the start date by way of a sponsor note provided this is done before the application is submitted.

For those whose visa has already been issued sponsors are not normally permitted to extend the start date by more than 28 days, although the Home Office has confirmed that compelling circumstances will be considered, including where the start date cannot be met due to the pandemic.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com for any more help with this.

Can sponsored staff work from home?

During the pandemic the Home Office relaxed certain reporting requirements. With many workers still working at home, the Home Office confirmed that employers with sponsor licences will not have to report a change of location for sponsored migrants working from home on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

Do sponsors need to report employees’ sickness absences and self-isolating to the Home Office?

There is no need for sponsors to report sponsored staff sickness absence, the need for self-isolation or indeed an inability to travel due to travel restrictions if they are related to the coronavirus pandemic.

How does absence without pay affect sponsored employees during the coronavirus pandemic?

Ordinarily a sponsor is required to report and to cease sponsoring a sponsored employee if they are absent without pay for more than four weeks (although there are exceptions). Under COVID-19 policy, sponsors are no longer required to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances. We would advise that an absence over four weeks and return to work are reported on the SMS with an explanation of the circumstances.

For any more clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

What immigration concessions are there for health workers, coronavirus researchers and their employers during the pandemic?

Which healthcare workers’ visas can be extended for free during the pandemic?

Eligible frontline health and care workers, including midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists can apply for a free one-year visa extension if their visa expires between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021. The scheme includes husbands, wives, partners and children under 18 dependant on eligible health workers’ visas.

Front-line healthcare staff can be working for the National Health Service or an independent healthcare provider. They are encouraged to check with their employer if they are in an eligible profession. The Home Office have listed the following eligible professions:

  • biochemist
  • biological scientist
  • dental practitioner
  • health professional
  • medical practitioner
  • medical radiographer
  • midwife
  • nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • ophthalmologist
  • paramedic
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • podiatrist
  • psychologist
  • social worker
  • speech and language therapist
  • therapy professional

Who can apply for a health surcharge refund?

Anyone holding a relevant visa, who has worked in health and social care continuously for at least six months commencing on or after 31 March 2020 and has paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) may be eligible for a reimbursement. Their dependants may also be eligible for a reimbursement if the IHS has been paid for them. The current surcharge is £624. More details of the scheme can be found here.

Can health workers start work while awaiting a decision on a work visa application?

Those assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and applying for a Health and Care Worker visa or whose CoS was assigned before 1 January 2021 can  start work before their visa application has been decided if they submitted their application before their current visa expired and they show their sponsor evidence of this and the job is the same as the one listed on the CoS.

If their CoS is assigned from 1 January 2021 and they are not applying under the Health and Care visa, they must wait until the visa application has been granted before starting work, unless their current visa allows such work.

If you’re working on coronavirus research

If you’re a scientist researching coronavirus, you may be able to apply for a Global Talent visa using the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) endorsed funder option, and you will only need confirmation from the endorsed funder of an award granted for a minimum of one year instead of the usual two for Global Talent. The minimum employment contract or hosting agreement only needs to be one year too. This concession has been extended until 31 December 2021 now.

The letter from the employer or host institution must confirm that the work is on a coronavirus related grant and provide the corresponding unique database reference number from the UK Collaborative on Development Research COVID-19 Research Project Tracker. Applicants who are successfully endorsed under this Home Office concession and who are already in the UK, will be able to switch into the route from any other category of visa. Find out about the requirements for the coronavirus researchers here.

What other concessions are there for the work of health workers and their employers during the pandemic?

Temporary flexibility has been introduced around sponsored frontline healthcare staff working at different sites due to coronavirus; sponsors will not need to notify UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if, for example, staff have to work in a different hospital. Sponsored staff can also carry out supplementary work in any role at any skill level with no restriction on the number of hours they can do this.

There is also no longer a limit on the number of hours those with leave in the following categories can work or volunteer for the NHS:

  • Student (including Tier 4 student) working for the NHS in a list profession
  • worker with a Skilled Work, Health and Care Work, Intra-company Transfer or T2 Worker visa and NHS job is a second job
  • visiting academic researcher
  • holder of a short-term visa and permitted to volunteer

In another coronavirus concession, pre-registration nurses or midwives on the Temporary Register in the UK have had the deadline to sit the Occupational Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) extended to 30 September 2021. If they do not pass on the first attempt, they have until 31 December 2021 to pass the exam.

How does the Coronavirus Bereavement Scheme work?

Family members of NHS and independent health and social care workers who die from COVID-19 will be offered immediate indefinite leave to remain free of charge.

UKVI will contact employers to identify those eligible and will arrange for them to be issued with indefinite leave to remain.

However, people who may be eligible and have not heard from the employer yet can contact the UKVI NHS team at: UKVINHSTeam@homeoffice.gov.uk.

For help with any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

covid 19 facemasks

COVID-19 FAQs for individuals

What are the new COVID-19 travel testing and quarantine rules for arrivals in the UK?

The UK’s traffic light COVID-19 travel measures for arrivals were replaced on 4 October 2021 with a single, smaller “red” list of countries (now reduced to just seven) with a quarantine hotel stay requirement and the rest of the world. The previous “green” and “amber” listed countries have become the “rest of the world” or “non-red list”. There are also changes to the testing requirements when returning from a non-red-list country, if fully vaccinated with a recognised vaccination regime.

COVID-19 rules for arrivals in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland

Currently rules for the four nations of the UK have converged, but it is always worth checking:

Below are the rules for arrival in England.

What are the rules for fully vaccinated people travelling to England from non-red list countries?

People arriving from non-red list countries who are recognised as fully vaccinated no longer need to self-isolate on arrival or take pre-departure tests before travelling to the UK. They will only need to book and take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2. 14 days must have elapsed after their final vaccination (though some approved vaccinations such as Janssen require just one dose), not including the day of the vaccination. Arrivals will need proof of their vaccination status and to fill a Passenger Locator Form before departing for the UK. Over 100 countries now have vaccination regimes that will be treated the same as those vaccinated in the UK (see below). Children under 18 years old from these countries will be treated the same too whether vaccinated or not.

From 24 October these recognised fully vaccinated passengers and under 18s arriving in England from countries not on the red list will also be able to take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR, on or before day 2 of their arrival into the UK. These can be booked from 22 October.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants. PCR tests can be accessed free of charge by ordering through NHS Test and Trace or by dialling 119.

Who else can enjoy the relaxed rules for fully vaccinated people from non-red list countries?

Children under 18 years old from countries with a recognised vaccine programme (see below) will be treated the same as in the rules as above, when not arriving from a red list country, as will those taking part in an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial in the UK or the USA (US residents only for USA trials). They also apply for arrivals from non-red countries who cannot have a COVID-19 vaccination for an approved medical exemption reason and are resident in England.

Which vaccinations are recognised to exempt arrivals from self-isolating?

You must have had a complete course of one of the following vaccines at least 14 days before you arrive in England:

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Pfizer BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Janssen

The day you have your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.

Formulations of these vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, also qualify as approved vaccines. It is possible to have two doses of two different approved vaccinations, and have them under two different approved programmes eg: Moderna in Australia for the first jab, Oxford/AstraZeneca in France for the second.

Which vaccination programmes are recognised and what proof do arrivals need?

Country or territoryExamples of proof that you’ve been fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine
Akrotiri and DhekeliaLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
AlbaniaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then you must follow the rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
AndorraEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
AnguillaLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
Antarctica/British Antarctic TerritoryLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
Antigua and BarbudaVaccine certificate.
AustraliaVaccine certificate.
AustriaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
The BahamasAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
BahrainVaccine certificate.
BangladeshAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then you must follow the rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
BarbadosVaccine certificate.
BelgiumEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
BermudaLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
Bosnia and HerzegovinaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
BrazilAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
British Indian Ocean TerritoryLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
British Virgin IslandsLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
BruneiVaccine certificate.
BulgariaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
CanadaVaccine certificate.
Cayman IslandsLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
ChileAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
ColombiaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then you must follow the rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
This country is on the red list. If you have been in a red list country or territory (including Colombia) in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you must follow the red list rules.
CroatiaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
CyprusEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
Czech Republic (Czechia)EU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
DenmarkEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
DominicaVaccine certificate.
EgyptAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
EstoniaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
Falkland IslandsLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
FinlandEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
FranceEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
GeorgiaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
GermanyEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
GhanaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
GibraltarLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
GreeceEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
GrenadaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
GuernseyLetter of proof from the government of Guernsey showing you’ve been fully vaccinated.
Hong KongAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
HungaryEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
IcelandEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
IndiaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
IndonesiaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
IrelandEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
Isle of ManNHS COVID Pass or a letter of proof from the government of the Isle of Man showing you’ve been fully vaccinated.
IsraelVaccine certificate.
ItalyEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
JamaicaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
JapanVaccine certificate.
JerseyLetter of proof from the government of Jersey showing you’ve been fully vaccinated.
JordanAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
KenyaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
KosovoAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
KuwaitVaccine certificate.
LatviaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
LiechtensteinEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
LithuaniaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
LuxembourgEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
MalaysiaVaccine certificate.
MaldivesAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
MaltaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
MoldovaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
MonacoEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
MontenegroAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
MontserratLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
MoroccoAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
NamibiaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
NetherlandsEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
New ZealandVaccine certificate.
NigeriaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
North MacedoniaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
NorwayEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
OmanAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
PakistanAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
PhilippinesAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno IslandsLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
PolandEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
PortugalEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
QatarVaccine certificate.
RomaniaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
San MarinoEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
Saudi ArabiaVaccine certificate.
SerbiaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
SingaporeVaccine certificate.
SlovakiaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
SloveniaEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
South AfricaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
South Georgia and South Sandwich IslandsLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
South KoreaVaccine certificate.
SpainEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
St Kitts and NevisAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
St LuciaAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
St Vincent and the GrenadinesAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
SwedenEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
SwitzerlandEU DCC showing you’ve had a full course of a Swissmedic approved vaccine.
TaiwanVaccine certificate.
ThailandAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
TurkeyAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
Turks and Caicos IslandsLetter of proof from the overseas territory government showing you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.
UkraineAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)Vaccine certificate.
USACDC card showing you’ve had a full course of an FDA-approved vaccine in the USA plus proof that you are a resident of the USA.
Vatican CityEU  DCC showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA approved vaccine.
VietnamAdded to this list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4am Monday 11 October. If you arrived in England before then, you must follow the  rules for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you arrive after that, you can use a vaccine certificate to prove your vaccination status.

This list is constantly being added to, so please check here if your territory is not included, and you can also sign up for an email alert for updates.

What are the rules for those not recognised as being fully vaccinated arriving in the UK from non-red list countries?

Passengers not recognised as being fully vaccinated with authorised vaccines and certificates under England’s international travel rules, will still have to take a pre-departure test, a day 2 and day 8 PCR test and self-isolate for 10 days upon their return from a non-red list country under the new two-tiered travel programme. A Test to Release on day 5 will remain an option for unvaccinated passengers who wish to shorten their isolation period.

What are the rules for those wishing to travel to the UK from red list countries?

You must not travel to England if you’ve been in a red list country in the previous 10 days unless you’re a British national, an Irish national or anyone with residence rights in the UK (ie: not just a visitor without a long-term visa). Applications for visitor visas from red list countries will be paused until travel restrictions are lifted. Arrivals from high-risk ‘red list’ countries must quarantine for 10 days as part of the Quarantine Hotel scheme at designated hotels near airports at £1,750 a head. They must also take three tests (before departure to the UK, day 2 and day 8) unless they are 10 years old or under but cannot pay to stop self-isolating early with the Test to Release scheme.

Arrivals must book a Quarantine Hotel before departure and fill out a Passenger Locator Form detailing contact details and where they will be staying within 48 hours of their journey to the UK. Pupils under 18 at boarding schools may self-isolate at accommodation provided by the school.

Which countries are currently on the red list?

Currently there are just seven countries on the red list: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

The UK Government has  suggested that there will be changes from late October to allow passengers who change flights or international trains during their journey to follow the measures associated to their country of departure, rather than any countries they have transited through as part of their journey.

Who is exempt from coronavirus travel measures?

There are exemptions from the quarantine regime on medical and compassionate grounds.

The concessions to COVID travel measures below are for professional / work reasons and may differ slightly between the countries of the United Kingdom. Click on these links to find out:

If you would like any more clarification, please do contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

Who is exempt from coronavirus travel requirements such as self-isolating for a 10 day quarantine on arrival in the UK?

Those arriving from within the Common Travel Area (CTA) which consists of Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, who have been in the CTA for the last 10 days before entering the UK, will not need to complete the Public Health passenger locator form, test or self-isolate for 10 days.

Those who entered the CTA within the last 10 days will need to complete the form still and may or may not have to self-isolate as per the traffic light system (see question above) only until they have spent a total of 10 days in the CTA. A boarding pass or itinerary would be shown to help confirm how long has been spent in the CTA.

There are exemptions from the quarantine regime on medical and compassionate grounds.

The exemptions below for professional reasons are for arrivals in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own rules and exemptions. Click on these links to find out:

Some categories must still complete the Public Health passenger locator form before they travel. Every category has its own rules – click on the links below – for instance, those working on British film, television and advertising productions will be able to leave their place of self-isolation to travel to work on their production within their work ‘bubble’ (see below).

Which sectors and jobs are exempt from COVID measures such as self-isolating in England?

  1. Aerospace engineers
  2. Aircraft pilots and crew
  3. BBC broadcasting transmission network and services
  4. Border security duties – UK officials and contractors
  5. Border security duties – non-UK officials and contractors
  6. Bus and coach drivers
  7. Business directors bringing significant numbers of jobs and investment to the UK
  8. Channel Tunnel system workers
  9. Civil aviation inspectors
  10. Clinical trials or studies
  11. Crown servants or government contractors
  12. Data infrastructure maintenance
  13. Defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors
  14. Diplomatic missions and international organisations
  15. Downstream oil facility workers
  16. Drivers of goods vehicles
  17. Electronic communications networks
  18. Elite sportspersons – domestic
  19. Elite sportspersons – international
  20. Environment Agency relating to flood and coastal erosion risk management
  21. Eurostar International workers
  22. Eurotunnel workers
  23. Film and high-end television production activities
  24. Foreign Policing
  25. High Speed 2 rail workers
  26. In-flight security officers
  27. IT and telecoms workers
  28. Medical evacuation
  29. Medical treatment
  30. Urgent medical treatment
  31. Medicines – human and veterinary
  32. Network Rail workers
  33. Nuclear personnel
  34. Nuclear emergency responder
  35. Nurses from red list countries coming to take up NHS employment
  36. Offshore oil and gas
  37. OPCW and IAEA inspectors
  38. Performing arts professionals
  39. Port workers (specialist technical) supporting ferry services
  40. Postal workers
  41. Prison escorts (international)
  42. Quality assurance inspectors for human and veterinary medicines
  43. Regular work abroad
  44. Representatives of a foreign country or territory or British overseas territories
  45. Seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships
  46. Seasonal agricultural workers
  47. Seasonal poultry workers
  48. Specialist technical workers – sub-sea telecommunications infrastructure
  49. Specialist technical workers – goods and services
  50. Specialist technical workers – waste
  51. Specialist technical workers – power infrastructure
  52. Specialist technical workers – space infrastructure
  53. Transiting through the UK (layovers)
  54. Transporting human cells or blood
  55. Water supplies and sewerage services workers

Anyone who needs to travel urgently to the UK for compassionate reasons, should explain the compelling or compassionate reasons for their visit in their visa application form and alert the Visa Application Centre staff during biometric submission. If they do not hear back from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) or their request is exceptionally urgent, they can also contact UKVI for help.

NB: Please check the Home Office’s guidance for full details of requirements and updates before travelling, or contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

Are there any policies to help EU Settlement Scheme applicants who have had absences from the UK due to the pandemic?

Continuous residence in the UK is a crucial requirement for EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) eligibility. Following concern that many applicants would have had longer than expected breaks due to the global pandemic, the Home Office published its Coronavirus (COVID-19): EU Settlement Scheme – guidance for applicants in June 2021.

Appendix EU now contains the provisions of this concession (which no longer operates) and provides that in a range of circumstances where, due to COVID-19 applicants would have exceeded the permitted absences from the UK and broken their period of continuous residence, they will continue to qualify for status under the EUSS. Applications may still be eligible with evidenced reasons for longer breaks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19): EU Settlement Scheme – guidance for applicants for examples of the reasons that are acceptable and what evidence should be required.

Can people still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021 for most people. People can still apply if either:

  • they have a later deadline – for example, they are joining a family member in the UK who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • they have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by 30 June 2021 – for example, due to domestic abuse, an illness or difficulty accessing support to apply because of coronavirus restrictions

More details can be found here.

Will indefinite leave to enter/remain or naturalisation be affected by extended absence or inability to return to the UK?

Will applications for indefinite leave to remain or naturalisation be affected by extended absence from the UK?

Normally absences from the UK must not exceed 180 days in any 12 month period to qualify for indefinite leave to remain. However the Home Office has the discretion to waive excess absences where serious and compelling reasons can be demonstrated. The current pandemic has severely disrupted many people’s ability to travel, so we would expect people applying for indefinite leave to remain not to be penalised in such cases.

The new rules in place for applications made from 1 December 2020 state that absences from the UK caused by pandemic travel disruption will not count towards the 180 day limit.

In addition, from 1 September 2020, the Home Office updated its guidance on naturalisation applications to announce it now has discretion to waive excess absences in certain circumstances when absences were due to the global pandemic.

We would advise people to retain evidence around their reasons for their inability to return to the UK. If working remotely, we would also advise retaining evidence relating to this.

If I can’t return to the UK due to the Coronavirus pandemic, will I lose indefinite leave to remain / indefinite leave to enter?

Indefinite leave to remain and indefinite leave to enter will lapse if someone is absent from the UK for over two years. If they lapsed on or after 24 January 2020, those unable to return to the UK due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions may apply under the Returning Resident visa route to return to the UK and get indefinite leave.

The Returning Resident application form can be filled out online. There is a fee and applicants will need to explain how coronavirus restrictions prevented their return to the UK. (Applicants will receive a refund of the application fee and, where applicable, a refund of £55 if their application was submitted at a Mandatory User Pay Visa Application Centre.)

If you’ve already been issued a Returning Resident visa

Those who obtained a Returning Resident visa because your ILR/ILE lapsed on or after 24 January 2020 and you were unable to return to the UK due to travel restrictions in place relating to coronavirus,  may be eligible for a refund of their visa fee.

Email CovidRRR@fco.gov.uk with the subject heading ‘Returning Resident Refund Request’ followed by the GWF number received when the application was submitted.

The email must be in English and must also provide:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • any unique Home Office reference numbers, including payment reference for the visa fee

You can contact us on +44 (0) 207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com to discuss this further.

What happens if I cannot travel to the UK before my visa vignette expires?

What should I do if my 90 day visa vignette to work or join family has expired?

Those whose 90 day vignette has expired may apply for a replacement by completing this  online form. The cost of replacing an expired 90 day vignette is £154 and an appointment to resubmit biometric information must be made.

The Home Office has also insisted that no one will be penalised if they have not been able to collect their Biometric Residence Permit.

What should I do if my 90 day student visa vignette has expired?

Students with an expired visa vignette resuming studies undertaken online back in the UK or with studies completed remotely under COVID concessions and coming to the UK to pursue the Graduate visa route should familiarise themselves with the guidance and fill the online form above. They will also have to pat £154 and resubmit biometrics.

Those who have been unable to study remotely meaning the course cannot be completed within their existing visa period, or who have a new course end date and would like a new visa reflecting that, should submit a new paid student visa application with a new Certificate of Acceptance of Study (CAS) to cover the revised dates. Biometric information will need to be resubmitted too.

What should I do if I arrived in the UK after my visa vignette expired due to COVID-19 measures?

Those who entered the UK outside the 30 or 90 day window allowed by their entry clearance vignette due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can apply to remain in the country without having to return overseas or reapply.
To make use of this coronavirus concession, for which there is no Home Office fee, e-mail ECActivation@homeoffice.gov.uk with the following details:

  • a photo of yourself
  • a photo of your Entry Clearance vignette and passport biodata page
  • a photo of the Entry stamp in your passport
  • details of how your travel was impacted by COVID-19 regulations
  • residential address where an updated Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) can be returned

An updated BRP will then be sent out with the correct conditions of leave.

For any queries please contact us on +44 (0) 207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

Can I apply for a visa if my local Visa Application Centre (VAC) is shut due to COVID and what VAC services may be suspended?

Most UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Visa Application Centres (VAC) around the world are open. This will continue to be subject to local circumstances.
Keep checking the websites of TLScontact for Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East; VFS Global for all other countries; as well as USCIS (which have US centres as well as VFS) for the latest information on when and where VACs have reopened. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted.

Priority and Super Priority services are only available in some locations. If available,  these services will be able to be purchased when booking an appointment.

If  applicants’ local Visa Application Centres (VAC) are closed due to coronavirus restrictions, they can apply online and select a VAC in another country worldwide to submit an application and biometrics.

The Home Office has stated that people will be able to make any type of application, but at the start of the application the country where biometrics will be submitted must be picked. This concession has been extended to 31 December 2021.

Those who have submitted applications through Access UK and now intend to submit a new application at a different VAC from the one selected in that application, will need to make a new application and select the VAC where it will be submitted.  Click here to request a refund for an earlier application.

English language tests are available in most countries but may be temporarily suspended in some countries due to coronavirus restrictions.

Can I extend my visa if I am unable to leave the UK?

Those unable to return to another country who have a visa, leave or ‘exceptional assurance’ that expires before 30 November 2021 may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’ if they intend to leave when it becomes possible. This is a concession that now applies only to countries on the Red list (see above.)

Applicants should email: cihassuranceteam@homeoffice.gov.uk with the following details:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • Home Office, GWF or any other reference number
  • type of visa
  • expiry date of visa
  • reason for request
  • evidence of flight or evidence showing reason you can’t leave

The subject header of the email should read ‘Request for an assurance’.

Evidence should be attached to the email to show why someone cannot leave the UK. (For example, if a flight cannot be found before leave/visa expires, a confirmed flight ticket should be submitted. Or if someone has tested positive for coronavirus, confirmation of the test should be included.)

If granted exceptional assurance, it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after leave has expired. Work, study or renting may continue during the period of exceptional assurance.

If circumstances change or people are unable to leave the UK by the assurance date previously given, one can apply again with supporting evidence, clearly stating that this is a subsequent application.

Can I extend my visa to stay in the UK?

Those wishing to apply for leave to remain in the UK must be permitted to apply in-country by the Immigration Rules relating to the relevant category. Otherwise they will need to return home to apply for entry clearance.

The terms of their current permission will remain the same until the application is decided. If  switching into work or study routes they may be able to commence work or study whilst the application is under consideration, depending on the terms of the current permission.

Some routes have no provision in the Immigration Rules for making an in-country application, such as T5 Youth Mobility Scheme, or Adult Dependant Relative. The concession allowing discretionary switching in-country has now been narrowed.

People who have been given exceptional assurance can also apply for leave to remain to regularise their stay before exceptional assurance expires.

What should I do if I arrived in the UK after my visa vignette expired due to COVID-19 measures?

Those who entered the UK outside the 30 or 90 day window allowed by their entry clearance vignette due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can apply to remain in the country without having to return overseas or reapply.
To make use of this coronavirus concession, for which there is no Home Office fee, e-mail ECActivation@homeoffice.gov.uk with the following details:

  • a photo of yourself
  • a photo of your Entry Clearance vignette and passport biodata page
  • a photo of the Entry stamp in your passport
  • details of how your travel was impacted by COVID-19 regulations
  • residential address where an updated Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) can be returned

An updated BRP will then be sent out with the correct conditions of leave.

What if I have overstayed my leave without permission already?

Those whose visa or leave expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 will not face future adverse immigration consequences for failing to make an application to regularise their stay during this period. However, if no application to regularise stay or  request for an exceptional assurance have been made, then the Home Office insist arrangements should be made to leave the UK.

All this is being kept under review so is liable to change.

For further details, please contact us on 0207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

If my endorsement for a Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visa expires will I still be able to come to the UK?

What concessions are there for Global Talent applications?

If an endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because someone has not been able to make an application for a Global Talent visa, they may still be eligible.

An endorsement will be accepted if it was granted on or after 24 January 2020 and the visa application was made before 1 January 2021.

Applications that do not meet these requirements will be considered on a case by case basis.

If an endorsement for a Start-up or Innovator visa expires will I still be able to come to the UK?

If a Start-up or Innovator visa endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because an applicant has not been able to travel to the UK, they may still be eligible for a visa. The Home Office says it will consider all applications on a case by case basis.

In addition Home Office guidance provides that where an individual is unable to make a visa application within the three month timeframe following endorsement the endorsing body will need to issue them with a new endorsement.

Please do not hesitate to contact us promptly on +44(0)207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com to discuss if you have concerns about any of the above.

What happens to Start-up or Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas if the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted business?

The Home Office has offered a concession during the pandemic for those on a Start-up visa allowing them to apply for additional leave of 12 months. This will allow a Start-up visa to go beyond the normal maximum two-year period to allow developing a business along the lines of an agreed business plan.

Requirements must be met as usual, including endorsement by an endorsing body. The endorsing body must assess and be satisfied that reasonable progress has been made, taking into consideration the impact of coronavirus and that the business remains viable.

The endorsing body must provide an endorsement letter stating it is an application for a temporary extension by completing the relevant sections and providing the required information, within the endorsement letter.

Would COVID-19 disruption impact Tier 1 Entrepreneurs seeking leave to remain?

Entrepreneurs no longer need to employ at least two people for 12 consecutive months each. The 12 month period can be made up of multiple jobs across different months but this must be equivalent to two full time jobs.

Time when employees were furloughed will count towards the 12 month period if they have been paid at least 80% of their normal salary.

Those who have not been able to employ staff for 12 months by the time their visa expires will be allowed to extend their stay for a further 2 years, if they can show they created at least two jobs by the date they apply and they have been unable to employ staff for 12 month due to the pandemic.

On 10 September 2021, the Home Office released their latest statement of changes to the UK’s Immigration Rules (these are in addition to the less formalised “policy concessions” above, which have been regularly updated since the start of the pandemic).

For those currently under the now closed to new applicants Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route, the Immigration Rules are being updated. If you temporarily extended your Entrepreneur visa by relying on the Home Office’s policy concession where you were unable to employ two new starters under the creation of jobs requirement due to Covid-19, you will now still have to comply with the jobs creation requirement when you come to apply for settlement.

This means that when you apply for settlement, you will have to show that you have created four jobs (of 12 months duration), or two jobs (of 24 months duration). This rule change took effect from 6 October 2021.

Please contact us for more details on +44(0)207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

What coronavirus concessions are there for applications to enter the UK or remain on the basis of family or private life?

If weddings or civil ceremonies are delayed due to COVID-19 can people extend their fiancé/fiancée visas?

Those who are in the UK with six months’ leave as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner whose wedding or civil ceremony has been delayed can apply for an extension of leave. Under the family Immigration Rules there must be a good reason why and evidence that the ceremony will be held within the next six months.

Cancellation of a wedding or civil partnership ceremony due to COVID-19 will be considered a good reason under this policy.

Will a loss of income due to COVID-19 affect a family or private life visa application?

For those suffering a loss of income due to coronavirus up to 31 October 2021, employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income would be considered instead, provided the minimum income requirement was met for at least six months immediately before the date the income was lost.

If furloughed, income will be counted as if earning 100% of salary.

For those who are self-employed, a loss of annual income due to coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2021 will usually be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.

What other coronavirus concessions are there for applications to enter the UK or remain on the basis of family or private life?

As well as the concessions above on postponed ceremonies and income dips, the Home Office has announced other temporary concessions for those unable to meet the requirements of the family Immigration Rules.

For those unable to travel back to the UK due to coronavirus travel restrictions whose leave has expired, a short break of up to 6 months in continuous residence will be overlooked. They are expected to make their next application as soon as possible.

There will be no future adverse immigration consequences if there has been a short break of continuous residence if leave expired between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021. However, the latest Home Office guidance says that those who returned to the UK and did not make a valid application to stay upon re-entry must now make arrangements to leave.

In some cases, the Home Office has also said that they will be able to decide an application without seeing certain specified documents if coronavirus as made them impossible to get hold of. Otherwise, it may be possible to submit specified documents at a later date, after the application.

Those with an English language test as part of their application can apply for an exemption if the test centre was closed or they were unable to travel to it due to coronavirus when they applied.

For the latest on booking English language test centres in the UK, please check: IELTSTrinity CollegePearson or LanguageCert.

You can contact us on 0207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com if you have any concerns regarding these Coronavirus concessions.

Can migrants with no recourse to public funds receive payment if furloughed or in extreme circumstances?

The good news is that payments for furloughed staff as part of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are not classified as ‘public funds’ for migrants, so they would not be breaking any regulations.

Most migrants have the condition stipulated in their leave of ‘no access to public funds’ and are unable to claim Universal Credit or other benefits available to ease people’s economic plight during social distancing measures. That said, ‘New Style’ Jobseekers Allowance, Statutory Sick Pay, and ‘New Style’ Employment Support Allowance do not count as public funds.

Those who are facing extreme hardship and have been granted leave to remain on family/private life grounds may be eligible to have the ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition removed if their financial circumstances have changed since the leave was granted and they are no longer able to provide food or housing for themselves or their family; their child is at risk because of their very low income or they had financial problems when they first applied but failed to provide evidence of this.

Following a High Court judgement, Home Office guidance was further softened  so that if people granted or seeking indefinite leave to remain under the family or private life routes are destitute or at risk of imminent destitution, then the ‘no recourse to public funds’ stipulation should be lifted.