Home Office Coronavirus update: expired visas & sponsored employees homeworking
24 March 2020
In new Home Office guidance published today (March 24) visas will be extended for people whose leave has expired after 24 January and are unable to return home due to COVID-19.
The extension announced by the Home Secretary Priti Patel will last until 31 May 2020 but will be kept under review in case the Coronavirus pandemic makes further extensions necessary.
This will apply to anyone whose leave expired between 24 January and 31 May 2020 and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self isolation, preventing many from being penalised by the current Coronavirus crisis.
This is welcome news to a lot of people who have been left in the lurch with travel restrictions and the risk of contagion.
UPDATE: From 6 April 2020 the Home Office has asked anyone in this situation to make a request by completing this online form.
Up to April 6 the Home Office asked anyone in this situation to contact the dedicated COVID-19 team at UKVI by emailing them: @CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk with full name, date of birth, nationality, existing visa details, and reason (eg: flights suspended).
In other good news that will provide peace of mind for many, switching visas will be made easier for those facing having to leave the UK.
For those who want to apply for leave to remain to stay in the UK long-term, the Home Office is also expanding in-country switching provisions which is also welcome in the current circumstances.
So for example if people wish to switch from a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa into the Tier 2 (General) category they will have the option to do so without having to leave the UK.
Sponsored staff homeworking
In sensible news for employers with sponsored migrant employees working from home, the Home Office also waved certain requirements in the light of measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the UK. As workers are sent to self-isolate or work from home to ensure social distancing, the Home Office confirmed a relaxation of the reporting requirements on their sponsoring employers; employers with sponsor licences will not have to report a change of location for sponsored migrants working from home.