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

By Vanessa Ganguin

Latest updates to all your UK immigration and COVID-19 questions

Updated 12 April 2020

We have done our best to answer the main UK immigration 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.

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

Anyone now arriving from outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man) must:

  • take a coronavirus test which tests negative during the 3 days before departure
  • book two coronavirus (COVID-19) home tests (book here) to be taken while on day 2 and day 8 of quarantining (£210)
  • complete a passenger locator form with details of where they will quarantine for ten days

Those who have been in banned ‘red list’ countries in the past 10 days will need to book the quarantine hotel scheme which costs £1,750 including day 2 and 8 Covid tests as well as a hotel to self-isolate in (book here).

For arrivals to Scotland, the quarantine hotel scheme is mandatory for ALL arrivals who have been outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) in the 10 days prior to arrival.

Find out more about:

Or see questions below for exemptions and more details.

After ten days quarantine, arrivals should follow the same health guidance and national lockdown restrictions as people who live in the UK:

 

COVID-19 FAQs for sponsoring employers

What COVID-related delays could sponsoring employers face and what concessions are there?

Most Visa Application Centres (VAC) abroad and all UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) in the UK are open despite pandemic measures. 

Here is up to date information on UKVCAS (operated by Sopra Steria) which are classed as essential services so will remain open in all tier areas during the next stage of COVID-19 restrictions.

We advise checking the websites of VFS Global and TLScontact for latest updates on VACs in other countries.

Priority and Super Priority services have been suspended in the UK since the start of the pandemic, but outside the UK it should be possible to expedite visa applications at the moment for those using these faster services.

Until 31 December 2020, the Home Office was allowing migrants in the UK to start their sponsored employment while still waiting for approval once a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) had been assigned and the online application has been submitted and paid for.

However if the CoS was assigned from 1 January 2021, unless it is under the Health and Care visa, they will need to wait until their application has been approved before starting the new sponsored work.

If their CoS was assigned before 1 January 2021 or they are applying under the Health and Care visa, an employer may allow employees to start work before their visa application has been decided, as long as:

  • the employee submitted their application before their current visa expired
  • the role they are employed in is the same as the one on their CoS.

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

Can employers expect sponsor licence compliance inspection visits during the pandemic?

During coronavirus restrictions, sponsorship and compliance auditing visits by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) were suspended, but UKVI have now confirmed with a memo on the Sponsorship Management System that visits are being resumed. Visiting officers will be adhering to COVID safety precautions.

Many employers with a sponsor licence or pending licence may never receive a compliance visit, but now visits are resuming, we can expect to see more enforcement actions such as licence suspensions and revocations for non-compliant sponsors.

For more information about sponsor compliance, please feel free to contact us on +44 (0) 207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

 

Can an employee start work while waiting for a visa?

Employers may allow employees to start work before their visa application has been decided if  their CoS was assigned before 1 January 2021 or they are applying under the Health and Care visa, as long as:

  • the employee submitted their application before their current visa expired
  • the role they are employed in is the same as the one on their CoS.

If the employee’s application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused, their employment must be terminated.

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

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 sponsored staff work from home?

As part of measures taken to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office has relaxed certain reporting requirements. With workers following social distancing guidelines 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. 

Can employers reduce sponsored staff's pay under the Job Retention Scheme and what precautions should they take?

If trading has reduced or ceased temporarily,  an employer that cannot pay the full salaries of sponsored staff may temporarily reduce their pay in line with government job retention schemes. Sponsored employees are eligible for these schemes in the same way as resident workers.

Reductions in salary must be part of a company-wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same. Be aware that sponsored workers’ rate of pay for the hours they work cannot be reduced below the going rate for their occupation (subject to any discounts they qualified for when they were granted permission).

These changes of status must be reported and must be temporary. The employee’s pay must return to at least previous levels once arrangements have ended.

We advise that sponsors should make a further report once employees are back at work. For any more clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

What if the employer tops up a sponsored furloughed employee's salary so it stays the same?

If they are sponsored migrants, it is still advisable to report this change to their status as well as their subsequent return to work.

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.

Can sponsors reduce the salary or the hours that Skilled Workers work?

If trading has temporarily ceased or reduced, employers can temporarily reduce the pay of sponsored employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month – whichever is lower.

Any reductions must be part of a company-wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same. These reductions must be temporary, and the employee’s pay must return to at least previous levels once these arrangements have ended.

To discuss further, please contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

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

The Home Office has updated its coronavirus concession for eligible healthcare professionals to be granted a 12-month visa extension to include those whose visas expires between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021. This extension will be free of charge and is open to their dependants too if their leave expires in the same period. In​dividuals are required to complete an online form to verify their identity and employers will need to confirm the individual’s eligibility.

Eligible frontline health and care workers, including midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists will receive a free one-year extension. The scheme includes husbands, wives, partners and children under 18 dependant on eligible health workers’ visas. 

Front-line healthcare staff are aged 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
What other concessions are there for health workers, coronavirus researchers 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 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.

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

If you’re working on coronavirus research

If you’re a scientist researching coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be able to apply for a Global Talent visa using the UKRI endorsed funder option. Find out about the requirements for coronavirus researchers.

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.

(Contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com for more details on any of these developments).

Can firms postpone a sponsored 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 clarification is still being sought around whether the position continues to be that their start date cannot be delayed more than 28 days after the later of the original start date detailed on the CoS or the date the visa was issued. Otherwise, in the meantime a workaround would be for this to be reported as an unpaid leave scenario until they are able to commence work. 

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

Can firms conduct right to work checks without seeing someone in person during social distancing measures?

Social distancing measures, self-isolation and travel restrictions make it more difficult to see people in person, and postal delays make sending original documents harder too. To mitigate this, the Home Office is temporarily allowing employers to use the online right to work check process and then check original documents via video calls for those with EU pre-settled or settled status, a Biometric Residence Card or Biometric Residence Permit. Otherwise scans or photos of the documents can be emailed or sent over on a phone app before employers check them via video conferencing. 

Retrospective follow up checks must be done when these temporary measures come to an end. For more details call 0207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com

What should employers do to be ready to use the new post-Brexit immigration system during the pandemic?

The Home Office launched a campaign to urge employers, many of whom who have been distracted by the pandemic and do not already hold a sponsor licence to consider applying for one, in advance of the post-Brexit immigration system which commenced on 1 January 2021.

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2019-21 passed into law on 11 November 2020 ending freedom of movement and work within the European Economic Area (EEA).

Despite the challenges to businesses of the coronavirus pandemic, the Brexit transition period was not extended beyond the end of 2020, when the new post-Brexit immigration system replaced free movement from the EEA. The Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020. EEA/Swiss nationals and their family members who were in the UK before or on that date are still able to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme. The main application deadline for those in the UK before 1 January 2021 will be 30 June 2021.

For companies that may wish to sponsor employees from outside the UK, now is the time to start thinking of setting up a sponsor licence or renewing one if it is due to run out in 2021.

For more details about sponsor licence readiness and preparations for next year, call us on 0207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com

COVID-19 FAQs for individuals

covid 19 facemasks

 

Are there coronavirus restrictions on travel to the UK due to COVID-19?

New strains have led to a ‘red list’ of countries with restrictions on direct flights and visitor visas – see list in question below. There is a quarantine hotels scheme for those who have been in one of the countries in the 10 days prior to arrival. (All arrivals by air in Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area will have to quarantine in hotels – not just those from banned countries. – More details below.)

Arrivals from all countries must have a negative COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours before arrival in the UK, as well as booking tests on day 2 and day 8 of their self-isolation at home or in a hotel. (For more details and possible exemptions see below).

There are currently no other extra restrictions imposed by the UK government on people entering the country lawfully and passengers are still being processed, though there is a 10 day quarantine in place on arrival in the UK and a public health passenger locator form which can be filled in online 48 hours before arrival.

On arrival at the UK border, people should be able to show either a printed copy of the document attached to the confirmation email or the document attached to the confirmation email on a mobile phone. Certain categories of traveller are exempt from filling in the passenger locator form or from quarantine, there is a list here. (Also see question below.)

What COVID tests are necessary for travel to the UK and what exemptions are there?

Arrivals must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel to the UK. A test must be taken within three days of departure even by UK citizens. Prior to departure passengers will need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to carriers, as well as their passenger locator form.

Before filling in the passenger locator form, passengers to the UK will need to also book two more COVID home tests to be done wherever they will be quarantining for the first ten days after arrival. The tests must be taken on day 2 and day 8 of self-isolation. A positive test means another ten days of self-isolating. Any necessary medical treatment will be available from the UK’s National Health Service. There will be fines for anyone who do not comply with these measures.

Book tests here. The cost is £210 and must be taken by all adults and children over the age of five.

The UK Border Force are set to conduct spot checks on arrival to ensure that passengers are fully compliant, with fines and the potential of prosecution for those who falsify the form.

The test prior to arrival in the UK must:

  • meet performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml
  • this could include tests such as:
    • a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
    • an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device

People may not be able to travel to the UK if the test does not meet these standards. Where information about providers of tests is available locally, FCDO travel advice pages will be updated with this information. For consular assistance people can contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.

This will apply to people arriving by plane, train or boat and a negative result will not preclude having to self-isolate for 10 days. Those who test positive must not travel. Inconclusive tests must be repeated.

The original test result certificate must be provided and it must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted. The test result can be provided as a printed document or on an email or text message on a phone. It must include the following information:

  • person’s name, which should match the name on your travel documents
  • their date of birth or age
  • the result of the test
  • the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
  • the name of the test provider and their contact details
  • the name of the test device

If the test result does not include this information people may not be able to board to travel to England. Anyone arriving without a test result that includes this information could receive a £500 criminal fine, even if it is because they were not able to get tested in a country they transited through, so it is worth testing before departing.

A test is not necessary for those who began their journey from:

  • Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
  • Ascension, Falkland Islands, St Helena

Do children need to take a COVID test before travel and are there medical exemptions?

Children aged under 11 do not need to take a test before departure. (NB: the tests on day 2 and 8 of quarantine are for adults and children over the age of five.)

Nor do those travelling to the UK:

  • for urgent medical treatment or accompanying someone who is travelling for urgent medical treatment, and it is not reasonably practicable to obtain a negative COVID-19 test in the three days before departure
  • with a medical condition which means they cannot take a test – a note from a medical practitioner must be presented at check-in and to Border Force staff on arrival

What professions are exempt from having to do a Coronavirus test before travel to the UK?

People doing the following jobs do not need to take a test:

  • border and customs officials
  • channel tunnel system workers
  • defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors
  • hauliers
  • air, maritime and rail crew
  • civil aviation inspectors
  • people transporting human cells and blood products
  • seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships
  • specialist technical workers doing emergency works

Also, in limited circumstances:

  • foreign government officials
  • UK government officials conducting essential state business, essential government work or essential policing

See more details of job exemptions to COVID measures below to see if they apply.

Who needs to fill in a public health passenger locator form before travelling to the UK and when?

Passengers to the UK from all countries apart from the Common Travel Area (CTA) of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man must complete the public health passenger locator form before they travel, though they can not submit it until 48 hours before their arrival in the UK.

Those who entered the CTA within the last 10 days will still need to complete the form. A boarding pass or itinerary would be shown to help confirm how long has been spent in the CTA.

Everyone in a party must complete their own form, though under-18s staying with adults throughout are included on the adult’s passenger locator form.

On arrival at the UK border, people should be able to show either a printed copy of the document attached to the confirmation email or the document attached to the confirmation email on a mobile phone.

Failure to complete the form or falsifying it may result in prosecution.

COVID-19 test kits (click here) and Quarantine Hotels (click here) where travelling from banned countries should be booked before the passenger locator form is filled.

There are a small number people who do not have to complete the form because of their work.

How should people arriving in the UK quarantine?

All arrivals have to fill an online form with an appropriate address at which they will quarantine for 10 days, with enforcement through random spot checks and fines for those found to have broken the rules.

Below is the advice for those set to quarantine in England. Arrivals should follow separate advice if they need to quarantine in:

Since 15 December 2020, arrivals to England can reduce the length of self-isolation by taking a private COVID test on day five of their quarantine, unless arriving from countries that are currently on the ‘no entry’ list.

Those who have been in or passed through countries on the travel ban ‘red list’ in the ten days prior to arrival in the UK will need to self-isolate in a quarantine hotel (see question below) for 10 days with no test to release option on day five.

(Unlike other parts of the UK, ALL arrivals by air in Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area have to quarantine in hotels – not just those from banned countries.)

As well as a PCR test before departure, all arrivals must book Coronavirus tests for day 2 and day 8 of their self-isolation too before departure, whether they are quarantining at home or in a hotel. Those not quarantining as part of the Quarantine Hotel scheme should book the two home self tests which cost £210: here. Those staying in a quarantine hotel have these self tests included in their package too. (Click here to book. More details below.)

After booking COVID-19 tests, or a quarantine hotel package – if necessary, passengers to the UK from all countries must use the booking references and address they will self-isolate at to  complete a public health passenger locator form before they travel. They cannot submit the form until 48 hours before their arrival in the UK. Everyone in a party must complete their own form, though under-18s staying with adults throughout are included on the adult’s passenger locator form. Arrivals who falsify the form face prosecution.

Certain categories of traveller are exempt from filling in the passenger locator form or from quarantine, there is a list here. Also see question below. Film and TV drama productions have quarantine advice which can be found here too.

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 self-isolate 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.

Arrivals will be asked to try to avoid public transport and to travel to their accommodation by car “where possible”, and to try not to go out to buy food or other essentials “where they can rely on others.”

The measures apply to those arriving by sea and train as well as air.

After self-isolating, arrivals must follow the same Coronavirus protection measures as people who live in the UK, even if exempt from self-isolating. Check the rules for:

How can arrrivals in England shorten their quarantine with the Test to Release scheme?

Arrivals in the UK have to fill an online form with an appropriate address at which they will quarantine for 10 days, with enforcement through random spot checks and fines for breaking the rules in England. England, Scotland and Wales publish a list of their exemptions from quarantine (see below).

Since 15 December, those self-isolating in England can choose to take a coronavirus test on the fifth day under the Test to Release scheme. Private COVID-19 tests cost around £65 to £150 and results typically take 24 to 48 hours, cutting the time people spend self-isolating in England if the result is negative.

The scheme is only operating in England. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own quarantine regimes.

These need to be booked before departure, and the booking reference filled in the passenger locator form (see above).

This scheme is not open to arrivals from countries that are currently on the ‘no entry’ list, mentioned above, or arrivals who have transited through these countries, who must self-isolate for the full 10 days along with their household. A plan for quarantine hotels which they will have to pay for is due to commence on 15 February.

Whether one takes the Test to release or not, the tests on Day Two and Day Eight of quarantine are still mandatory.

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

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 self-isolate 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.

The Test to Release for International Travel scheme began on 15 December 2020 and is available in England only. Those only allowed to leave self-isolation for work-related activities in England can choose to take a coronavirus test under the Test to Release scheme and end their quarantine early if negative if they have not passed through a country on a travel ban to the way to the UK (see above for more details.)

The Home Office updated the list below on 5 March. Some categories must still complete the Public Health passenger locator form before they travel.

The exemptions to self-isolating and travel restrictions below do not apply for countries that are currently on the ‘no entry’ list, with the exception of goods drivers arriving from Portugal.

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).

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

The following have been listed so far (Home Office list updated 5 March 2021) as exempt from self-isolation on arrival in the UK – click on work categories for the specific exemptions:

  1. Jobs that qualify for travel exemptions
  2. Aerospace engineers
  3. Aircraft pilots and crew
  4. BBC broadcasting transmission network and services
  5. Border security duties – UK officials and contractors
  6. Border security duties – non-UK officials and contractors
  7. Bus and coach drivers
  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, international organisations and conferences
  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. High Speed 2 rail workers
  24. International prison escorts
  25. IT and telecoms workers
  26. Medical evacuation
  27. Medical treatment
  28. Urgent medical treatment
  29. Medicines – human and veterinary
  30. Network Rail workers
  31. Nuclear personnel
  32. Nuclear emergency responder
  33. Offshore oil and gas
  34. OPCW and IAEA inspectors
  35. Postal workers
  36. Quality assurance inspectors for human and veterinary medicines
  37. Regular work abroad
  38. Regular work in the UK, living abroad
  39. Representatives of a foreign country or territory or British overseas territories
  40. Seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships
  41. Seasonal agricultural workers
  42. Specialist technical workers – sub-sea telecommunications infrastructure
  43. Specialist technical workers – goods and services
  44. Specialist technical workers – waste
  45. Specialist technical workers – power infrastructure
  46. Specialist technical workers – space infrastructure
  47. Transiting through the UK
  48. Transporting human cells or blood
  49. Water supplies and sewerage services workers
  50. Legislation

Arrivals still need to follow the same Coronavirus self-distancing rules as people who live in whatever region of the UK they are in, even if exempt from self-isolating for 10 days after you arrive. Local areas will have their own rules. Check the rules for:

Which countries are subject to 'red list' travel bans due to COVID and who may still travel to the UK from them?

People who have been in or transited through the countries listed below in the last 10 days will not be granted access to the UK.

This does not include British and Irish Nationals, or other nationals with what the Home Office has called “residence rights”* (see list below) , who will be able to enter the UK but are required to book the quarantine hotel scheme before departure as well as taking a COVID test within 72 hours prior to departure.

The scheme costs £1,750 including day 2 and 8 Covid tests as well as a quarantine hotel to self-isolate in (book here). Arrivals from these countries cannot use the Test to Release scheme to cut their quarantine short. (Scotland will require all arrivals from outside the Common Travel Area to quarantine in hotels.) For more details on the scheme, see below.

Applications for visas for work, study or residence in the UK continue to be accepted from the locations below. Arrivals may face a lack of direct flights to the UK.

Current travel bans apply to the following countries:

  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ecuador
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

The banned countries list is subject to change, so is worth checking before travel.

Who may enter the UK from a country on the banned list?

*The following are allowed to arrive having travelled in these countries in the past ten days, but must self-isolate for ten days along with their households (a plan for quarantine hotels which they will have to pay for is set to be announced):

  • UK nationals
  • Irish nationals
  • holders of Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • holders of existing leave to enter or remain (those with biometric Residence permits) or an entry clearance/visa that grants such leave e.g. students, workers, etc – but NOT those with a visit visa.
  • holders of EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) leave
  • those who have rights of entry under the EU Withdrawal Agreements (including returning residents with a right of residence under the EEA Regulations and EEA frontier workers)
  • family members of EEA nationals with rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement

Those needing to travel urgently for compassionate reasons should apply for a visa in the normal way, setting out the compelling and compassionate circumstances. If no response is received, or the request is exceptionally urgent, applicants may contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre (CIH) for guidance: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Emails should have the heading: ‘Visitor Visa – Urgent Travel Request’ in your email, must be in English, providing a full name, date of birth and full details of the circumstances.

How does the quarantine hotel scheme for those arriving from banned countries work?

Those who have been in or passed through countries on the travel ban ‘red list’ in the ten days prior to arrival in the UK and and are among those allowed into the UK (see above) will need to self-isolate in a quarantine hotel for 10 days with no test to release option on day five.

(Unlike other parts of the UK, ALL arrivals by air in Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area will have to quarantine in hotels – not just those from banned countries.)

Booking a quarantine hotel costs £1,750 including two COVID-19 self tests sent to arrivals on day 2 and 8 of self-isolation. (Click here to book.)

A positive test would entail an extra ten days self-isolation. Arrivals will be afforded treatment on the National Health Service.

Those on the scheme will need to fly into one of the following airports which have nearby quarantine hotels:

London Heathrow

London Gatwick

London City Airport

Aberdeen

Glasgow

Edinburgh

Birmingham

Farnborough

There will be a fixed notice penalty of £5,000, rising to £10,000 for those who fail to comply with the scheme.

The booking reference for a quarantine hotel must be included in the public health passenger locator form completed before travel as well as a PCR test. Anyone falsifying the form may be prosecuted.

After self-isolating, arrivals must follow the same Coronavirus protection measures as people who live in the UK, even if exempt from self-isolating. Check the rules for:

Are countries on the 'travel corridor' list still exempt from self-isolation measures on arrival?

On Monday 18 January all Travel Corridors were suspended in a move the Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was making to “protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains” of COVID.

Arrivals from all countries must now quarantine for 10 days – apart from those travelling from somewhere in the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man) who have not left the CTA for the prior 10 days. They do not need to fill in a passenger locator form, test before leaving or quarantine and take tests after arriving.

Are Priority and Super Priority services to speed up visa applications still working despite pandemic disruption?

Priority and Super Priority services were suspended in the UK since the start of the pandemic. They were reinstated in January for limited applications.

Outside the UK it should be possible to expedite visa applications at the moment for those using these faster services.

Do contact us on +44 (0)207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com if you encounter problems.

Are Visa Application Centres reopening after services were suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions?

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.

In the UK, UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) are classed as essential services and so will remain open in all tier areas during COVID-19 restrictions. One can click here to get the latest details on UKVCAS centres and Christmas season hours. Appointments are released 28 days in advance and the free appointments are always booked up very quickly.

Priority and Super Priority services have been suspended in the UK since the start of the pandemic, but outside the UK it should be possible to expedite visa applications at the moment for those using these faster services.

The Home Office is extending the usual deadline for attending a biometric appointment to 240 days to allow for delays.

Feel free to contact us on +44 (0)207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com for any help.

Can I apply for a visa if my local Visa Application Centre is shut due to COVID?

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 March 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.

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

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.

Those with 30-day temporary visa vignettes which have expired or are about to expire may email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre (CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk) up to the end of 2020 to receive a new 90 day replacement short-term visa for free once Visa Application Centres reopen.

Emails should have “REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA” as the subject and include the applicant’s name, nationality, date of birth and the GWF reference number from their application form. 

Applicants will then be contacted when Visa Application Centres (VAC) reopen to arrange for a replacement visa vignette to be endorsed in their passport.

Alternatively, if your local VAC is open, you can arrange to return your passport for a new vignette.

(Those who have applied from an enrolment location operated by Immigration New Zealand will be subject to a slightly different process.)

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

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

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.

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

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.)

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

If you intend to leave the UK:

Those unable to leave the UK yet with a visa or leave that expires between 1 March 2021 and 30 June 2021 may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance.’

The online form is currently experiencing technical difficulties, so 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.

If you intend 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 Rules relating to the relevant category  otherwise they will need to return home to apply for entry clearance. The concession allowing discretionary switching in-country has now been removed (with some exceptions for family and private life applications).

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

If you have overstayed your 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 as Coronavirus measures do.

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

Can I apply for a different visa without having to leave the UK during the COVID pandemic?

While the UK is facing COVID-19 measures, switching visas has been made easier for those who would otherwise face having to leave the UK – especially those switching into worker categories.

Those switching into work or study routes may be able to commence work or study while the application is under consideration.

They will need to show that their application is urgent, for example if starting a new job or course of study, providing full details of this in a covering letter with supporting documents.

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

Those applying from 1 January 2021 will need to meet the switching rules of the route they are applying in. This will be based on the last route they were in before exceptional assurance was issued. For example, those in the UK visitor will not normally be able to switch into another route.

The Home Office has also said that in some cases it will reuse biometric data that people have already given on previous occasions – though not in all cases, which should help clear the backlog.

If in doubt, please give us a call on 0207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com

All this is being kept under review so is liable to change as Coronavirus measures do.

Are visa centres in the UK open for biometric appointments and what is the deadline?

Most UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) have reopened for existing customers. Click here to check which UKVCAS centres are open and book an appointment.

UKVCAS Service Points are essential services and will remain open throughout the UK so customers can continue to book and attend appointments to progress their visa applications whatever the coronavirus measures in their area.

Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are essential services and will remain open too. SSCs are offering a reduced number of appointments because of coronavirus. Updated information, as well as opening days and times can be found here. As more appointments are made available UKVI will invite people to arrange an appointment by email or post.

Some people may not need to attend a service point if they have submitted biometric details in the past. The Home Office is extending the usual deadline for attending a biometric appointment to 240 days to allow for delays.

Are English language test centres open and where?

English language test centres have generally reopened now. To find out where and when you can book an English language test outside the UK, you can check these providers’ websites: International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Pearson Test of English or LanguageCert.

For the latest on booking centres in the UK, please check: IELTS, Trinity College, Pearson Test of English or LanguageCert.

Can I work for my new employer while waiting for my UK visa application to be processed?

Those with a Certificate of Sponsorship assigned before 1 January 2021 may start work with their new sponsoring employer provided an application for leave to remain has been submitted prior to the expiry of their leave and they only work within the parameters of the role detailed in the Certificate of Sponsorship.

Those with a Certificate of Sponsorship assigned from 1 January 2021 will need to wait for their application to be approved before starting work (unless they still hold leave in another category which allows them to do that job).

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

If my endorsement for a Global Talent visa expires will I still be able to come to the UK?

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 both:

  • it was granted on or after 24 January 2020
  • the application was made before 1 January 2021

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

Please do not hesitate to contact us promptly on +44(0)207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com to discuss if this may apply.

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 this may apply.

What happens to Start-up visas if the coronavirus pandemic disrupts 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.

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

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.

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

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 due to coronavirus can request additional time to stay in the UK.

This is also known as ‘exceptional assurance’, and can be claimed (see above: Can I extend my visa if I am unable to leave the UK?) providing evidence of when the wedding will take place.

Otherwise, those affected can apply to extend their stay for a further six months to allow the ceremony to take place.

For any more clarification, please contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

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 May 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 May 2021 will usually be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.

If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us promptly on 0207 033 9527 or email enquiries@vanessaganguin.com to discuss.

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 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 and 31 May 2021.

Those intending to leave the UK who have been unable to do so, with a visa or leave that expires between 1 December 2020 and 31 May 2021, may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’ (see above: Can I extend my visa if I am unable to leave the UK?)

If leave expires after 31 October 2020, an application can be made from inside the UK where one would usually need to apply for a visa from their home country if:

  • the application is urgent, for example, a family emergency that prevents applying outside the UK
  • one cannot apply from outside the UK due to coronavirus

This is being kept under review.

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. English language test centres generally remain open during coronavirus measures in all tiers in the country as essential services. (See above: When and where are English language tests reopening?)

For the latest on booking English language test centres in the UK, please check: IELTS, Trinity College, Pearson or LanguageCert.

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

Will absence from the UK due to COVID-19 affect my settled status application?

Continuous qualifying period will not necessarily be affected if applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme were impacted by coronavirus public health restrictions. For example, if they contracted COVID-19 abroad and could not return to the UK, or imposed travel restrictions meant an absence from the UK for longer than planned (providing the period does not exceed 12 months).

In such circumstances, applicants will not always have to restart their five-year qualifying period towards settled status.

Depending on the basis of an application to the Settlement Scheme, time spent in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man may be treated as time spent in the UK.

Absences from the UK of up to six months in any 12-month period

If absent from the UK for no more than six months in any 12-month period, in either a single absence or multiple absences, the continuous qualifying period will not be broken regardless of the reason for the absence(s) and additional information or evidence will not need to be provided in support of an application.

A single absence from the UK of over six months but not more than 12 months

An absence from the UK for a single period of over six months, but not more than 12 months, during the five year continuous qualifying period due to being ill with coronavirus will not be counted as breaking the continuous qualifying period if someone was unable to return to the UK because they were ill or in quarantine.

The EU Settlement Scheme allows for a single absence up to 12 months for an important reason, including serious illness and study.

However an absence or absences of over six months but not more than 12 months in total in any five year continuous qualifying period where coronavirus was not a factor will still interrupt that continuous qualifying period unless there was another important reason for the absence.

Self-isolating will only be considered an important reason for absence if an applicant was, or is, under quarantine conditions, for example:

  • when ill with coronavirus
  • sharing a house with someone ill with coronavirus
  • when required to self-isolate as a result of being, or being in contact with someone who is, in a vulnerable or high-risk category

In all cases where prevented from travelling due to coronavirus applicants should provide a supporting letter with their application outlining the details and the dates they were ill or in quarantine.

Only one absence exceeding six months (but not exceeding 12 months) is allowed for an important reason in a five-year continuous qualifying period.

If there is more than one such absence, applicants would need to restart their five-year qualifying period towards settled status when they return to the UK before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

Absence of more than 12 months

If applicants do not have permanent residence status under the EEA Regulations or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme, an absence from the UK of more than 12 months will always interrupt a continuous qualifying period.

In these circumstances they will need to restart their continuous qualifying period by 31 December 2020 to be eligible for status under the scheme.

What if I cannot get hold of the documents I need for my EU Settlement Scheme application due to the coronavirus pandemic?

Applicant can use an alternative piece of evidence of identity and nationality, or (if applying from outside the UK) of entitlement to apply from outside the UK if they are unable to obtain or produce a passport or national identity card due to circumstances beyond their control or due to compelling practical or compassionate reasons specifically related to coronavirus public health restrictions.

Each case will be considered individually.

If asked by the Home Office to provide further information or evidence before an application can be decided, applicants will be able to provide this by email, and all evidence of eligibility will be accepted in digital format.

Click here for more details.

Can health and care workers still extend visas for free?

The Home Office has updated its coronavirus concession for eligible healthcare professionals to be granted a 12-month visa extension to include those whose visas expires between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021. This extension will be free of charge and is open to their dependants too if their leave expires in the same period. In​dividuals are required to complete an online form to verify their identity and employers will need to confirm the individual’s eligibility.

Eligible frontline health and care workers, including midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists will receive a free one-year extension. The scheme includes husbands, wives, partners and children under 18 dependant on eligible health workers’ visas. 

Front-line healthcare staff are aged 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

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.

If you’re working on coronavirus research

If you’re a scientist researching coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be able to apply for a Global Talent visa using the UKRI endorsed funder option. Find out about the requirements for coronavirus researchers.

Which frontline workers are exempt of paying the Immigration Health Surcharge?

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.

The reimbursement scheme is designed for claimants who are in the UK on visas that give them a generic right to work. Examples of this may include:

  • a dependant of a UK national or another migrant
  • someone on a Tier 4 student visa who can undertake up to 20 hours of work a week during term time
  • someone on the Tier 5 youth mobility scheme

Those eligible can now apply online and access guidance on claiming the reimbursement, which will be paid in 6six-month instalments.

There are other categories of people who do not need to pay the health charge too, including those applying for the EU Settlement Scheme.

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

They not need to do anything to receive this status. UKVI will contact employers to identify those eligible and will arrange for you to be issued with indefinite leave to remain.

However, people can contact the UKVI NHS team at: UKVINHSTeam@homeoffice.gov.uk.

Can migrants with no recourse to public funds receive payment if furloughed?

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.

Can migrants have recourse to public funds in extreme circumstances?

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 on 29 May 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.