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As the novel Coronavirus continues to spread, there are serious implications for people’s health and the NHS, coronavirus (COVID-19) is also having a significant impact on businesses and the economy, and on almost all aspects of society be it economy, health, or immigration. The local and international measures taken to reduce the spread of the disease including quarantine, travel bans, and social distancing have now led to the Home Office announcing numerous changes to the current immigration laws impacting nationals from other countries living in the UK.

Visa Relaxation

Foreign nationals with visas until 24th January, 2020 or those whose visas are either expired or about to expire, may get in touch with the authorities and request a visa extension subject to they’re able to prove that they have been unable to leave the country because of the border closures and travel restrictions imposed due of the current COVID 19 pandemic.

Also, they’ll be able to apply to move to a long-term UK visa from within a country for a specified period of time provided that their visa is going to expire before 21st May, 2020. Unlike in the past, when foreign nationals living in the UK were needed to leave the country and apply for the long-term UK visa from abroad, they can now have an extension till 31st May, 2020. Also, they’ll be able to apply from within the UK.

Duties for Sponsors

Tier 2 sponsors who have temporarily reduced their operations and aren’t able to pay salaries to their sponsored employees can reduce their salaries to 80% (or £2500 per month) for a limited period of time. The deductions are supposed to be temporary and the worker’s salary must return to the agreed amount once these arrangements are over.

Appeals

As far as appeals are concerned, they have been vacated and will be conducted on a date and time advised by the Immigration Tribunal. Appellants should provide evidence and arguments within 15 business days so that the Home Office can review and respond within 10 working days. Based on the arguments/evidence, the immigration judge will decide if the further process needs an oral hearing or not.

UK Application Centers

Currently, all UK visa application centers are closed until further notice. Applicants who’re affected by the cancellation will be rebooked at a similar location within 6 weeks. Noticeably, UK visa offices and support centers in other countries are also closed until further notice.

Asylum

The Home Office has temporarily paused one-to-one asylum interviews. According to the Home Office, all interviews scheduled from 19 March are canceled until further notice. The Government has also announced that the refugees will not be forced to leave the government accommodation until the end of June 2020. According to the Red Cross, the financial help will also continue during this period.

Coronavirus Testing

Laws have been passed including the COVID 19 to the list of diseases for which there will be no fee for NHS treatment. This law is particularly beneficial for short term migrants who have had to pay for NHS services earlier.

Disrupted Services

  • As UKVI services are confined and the Home Office are not able to fulfill their stated service standards, they’re not encouraging fresh applications at this time
  • English Testing Centers globally are also closed by the local and national authorities
  • Priority/Super Priority Services are temporarily halted

Contact Your Immigration Lawyer

The Home Office has also set up a dedicated Coronavirus hotline for queries particularly about the issues discussed above. If you’re a foreign citizen currently living in the UK and have concerns about your current or future immigration status in the UK, make sure you get in touch with your immigration lawyer to discuss your case.

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