THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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The UK Home Office has issued updated advice on UK visa applications and extensions during the coronavirus lockdown.
As announced in March, if your leave to remain in the UK expires before May 31, 2020 (and after January 24, 2020), visas will be extended to May 31 "if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19)". For those wishing to extend their visa, the Home Office explain "you must update your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) if your visa is expiring and you were not planning to stay in the UK".
For those who are planning to apply for a visa to remain in the UK for the long-term, "You can apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May 2020. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country." This is a significant development in the short term, as it means you can apply to stay whilst remaining in the UK.
In further relaxation of existing regulations, the Home Office haa clarified that if you are on a Tier 1 Entrepeneur visa but your business has been disrupted due to the spread of COVID-19, "You no longer need to employ at least 2 people for 12 consecutive months each. The 12 month period you are required to employ someone for can be made up of multiple employees across different months. Time when your employees were furloughed will not count towards the 12 month period. If have not been able to employ staff for 12 months in total by the time your visa expires, you will be allowed to temporarily extend your stay to give you time to meet the requirement".
If you are working for the NHS as a doctor, nurse or paramedic, "Your visa will be automatically extended by one year if it is due to expire before 1 October 2020. Family members with a visa due to expire before 1 October 2020 will also have their visa extended." The Home Office note that "The extension is free and you will not have to pay the immigration health surcharge. You do not need to apply. We will contact NHS employers to identify staff eligible for this extension. We will tell you and your employer if you have received an automatic extension".
For full details on the Government's updated guidance, go to www.gov.uk