New home office guidance on Coronavirus
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor LinkedinDanielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
The Home Office have issued new guidance on how to deal with foreign nationals who are unable to leave the UK due to the travel restrictions in place associated with coronavirus (covid-19), or alternatively due to self-isolation due to coronavirus. The guidelines were published on 24 March 2020.
The previous guidance was published on 17 February 2020, and this automatically extended the leave of Chinese nationals until 31 March 2020, and gave a dedicated hotline and email address for all other coronavirus related immigration enquiries.
The new guidance is not limited to Chinese nationals, but all nationals who cannot leave the UK. Specifically, it covers those who are in the UK and have a visa due to expire any time between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020.
Unlike the previous guidance, the Home Office do now require action from all those wishing to avail of these measures, rather than issuing a blanket visa extension. All foreign nationals who wish to remain in the UK have to contact the dedicated Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) so that the team can update the records.
When contacting the CIT, applicants should provide:
· your full name (include any middle names)
· date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
· your previous visa reference number
· why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed
Applicants will be told when their request is received and when the visa has been extended. All applicants will have their visa extended to 31 May 2020.
Switching immigration status
The guidance also relaxes restrictions on the ‘switching’ rules. The previous policy issued in February specifically permitted Chinese nationals on Tier 2 ICT to switch in country to Tier 2 General. The new guidance goes much further, as it is not restricted to any specific nationality, plus it is not restricted to any specific visa type. The guidance is very wide, and allows applicants to apply to switch their status in country to any long-term UK visa until 31 May 2020. Applications will be made via the appropriate online portal and subject to the normal visa fees and immigration rules.
Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre
Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Calls are free of charge.
As always, if the guidance is unclear or does not cover your situation, I would recommend contacting contacting us to discuss your specific situation.