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Guidance for Visa Holders

In response to the pandemic the UK Government have relaxed certain rules for visa holders and those applying for visas. Below is breakdown of the guidance that has been published.  

Further information for visa holders is available on the Government website

If you are in the UK

Changes have been made to the visa application process, the ability to commence employment, and the ability to switch to certain visa in the UK.  There have also been changes to reporting requirements for visa holders. 

Applying for a visa

Please note that while the UK remains in 'lockdown' the UK visa centres will remain closed.  You will be able to make an online visa application but you will not be able to submit your biometrics.

 The below provides a breakdown of the various visa application routes and what you’ll need to do if you need to make a visa application.


The University will continue to provide Certificates of Sponsorship to those who require, and are eligible, for visa extensions.  If you require a new Certificate of Sponsorship HR will be in contact to make the necessary arrangements.  

Once you have your Certificate of Sponsorship it will be possible to make your visa application online, however UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19).  You will not be able to book an appointment at this time.

Making a visa extension application before your current visa expires will ensure that your right of leave is extended.  Under section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 all of the rights associated with your previous visa will be extended until a decision is made on your new application. You will be able to continue to work as normal but please provide HR with confirmation of your visa application.


Changing jobs within the University can sometimes require a new visa, for example moving from a postdoctoral research role to a tenured academic post.  If you are in this positon you will require a new Certificate of Sponsorship from HR, this will be issued as part of the change of contract. 

Once you have your Certificate of Sponsorship it will be possible to make your visa application online, however UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19).  You will not be able to book an appointment at this time.

Once you have applied you will need to provide HR with confirmation of your visa application.  You will be able to start your new role before you have received your new visa.  Should there be any issues once the visa application has been processed please inform HR immediately.

 


The University will continue to provide Certificates of Sponsorship to those who require, and are eligible, for visa extensions.  HR will provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship as part of your on-boarding process.

Once you have your Certificate of Sponsorship it will be possible to make your visa application online, however UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19).  You will not be able to book an appointment at this time.

Making a visa extension application before your current visa expires will ensure that your right of leave is extended.  Under section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 all of the rights associated with your previous visa will be extended until a decision is made on your new application. Once you have provide HR with confirmation of your visa application, you will be able to commence employment with the University.

Should there be any issues with your visa application once it has been processed, please inform HR immediately.  


If you are coming to the end of your visa and intend to leave the UK but cannot due to the pandemic you will be able to extend your visa. If your visa is due to expire this month you can apply for an extension until 31 May 2020.  You will need to apply to the Home Office for a visa extension. Please email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Your email must be in English.


You can apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May 2020 if your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.

You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you are applying for and pay the UK application fee.

This includes those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020.

You can apply online. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.


In order to apply for indefinite leave to remain you are required to have taken the Life in the UK test.  Testing is currently paused, and is unlikely to restart until after the lockdown. Bookings are open but they may not proceed. There is little guidance on what to do if you cannot access the Life in the UK test, we recommend contacting the Home Office Coronavirus helpdesk.

If you’ve already made an appointment with a UKVCAS

If you’ve already made an appointment to attend a UKVCAS or an SSC, you will be contacted to be informed that it has been cancelled. You’ll be advised when you can book a new appointment.

Your immigration status in the UK will not change as a result of you not being able to attend an appointment.

Reporting requirements

Neither you nor the University are required to report to the Home Office that you are working from Home during the University’s closure.  You should however continue to inform the Home Office any other changes of circumstances. Details of what you need to report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/change-circumstances-visa-brp/youre-in-the-uk-and-dont-have-a-brp.

 It is also essential that we have your home address and contact details on file.  Please check your Personal Details on MyHR to ensure that we hold the correct information.

Changes to the current restrictions on the number of hours you can work or volunteer

There is no longer a limit on the number of hours you can work or volunteer each week if you are a:

  • tier 4 student
  • tier 2 worker and your NHS job is a second job
  • visiting academic researcher
  • holder of a short-term visa and are permitted to volunteer

No recourse to public funds

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) has been in the news lately due to the launch of a legal challenge against the policy.  Though NRPF applies to visa holders, this does not include Healthcare which is covered by the Immigration Health Surcharge that you would have paid when you applied for your visa. 

It will however, apply to short term visitors who may be visiting you and are currently unable to leave the UK due to flight restrictions.  If you have a visitor in this situation they will still be able to access healthcare from the NHS should they report symptoms linked to COVID-19. They will not be charged for using medical services.

The Government have created a fact sheet on NRPF, which is available on their website.

 

If you are outside the UK

All UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed. For updates to the status of VACs in your country, contact:

  • TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
  • VFS global for all other countries

In some areas UKVI cannot send visa vignettes across borders and routes due to restrictions.

If you have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, you’ll be contacted and told your appointment will not take place.

English Testing Centres are also affected. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website or contact your test centre for more information.

Getting your documents

Due to worldwide border, travel and public health restrictions it may not be possible to return your passport at this time.

If you have submitted your passport and would like it returned, you must contact the visa application centre where you logged your application to see if courier return is available in your location.  

British nationals abroad who need to apply for a passport

If your country‘s VAC is closed, you won’t be able to apply for a British passport. If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you can apply for an emergency travel document.

If you are applying for a Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visa

If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you have not been able to travel to the UK you may still be eligible for a visa. You should make your application as planned and the UKVI will consider all applications on a case by case basis.

If your 30 day visa to work, study or join family has expired

If your 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year.

 To make a request, contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. You’ll need to include your name, nationality, date of birth and your GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line. If you’ve already contacted us about this, please let us know in your email.

You’ll be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in your passport.

 You will not be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place.

This process will be in place until the end of 2020.

If you are on a Tier 2 visa and are currently outside the UK

If you are currently outside the UK and cannot return, it is important to keep your line manager and departmental administrators aware of your status.  This may have an impact on any future Settlement application. However, it is likely that those who accrue absences abroad as they are unable to return to the UK due to COVID-19 will be able to argue that this amounts to an exceptional circumstance. Unfortunately, the Home Office has not published any formal policy on the issue.

 

Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre

If you have immigration queries related to coronavirus, please email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre.

Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Your email must be in English.

They aim to reply to your email within 5 working days.

You can also call the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. If you’ve emailed the help centre already, please do not contact them by phone.

Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Calls are free of charge.

If your query doesn’t relate to immigration provisions associated with coronavirus, please contact the Home Office’s general immigration helpline.

 

Travelling to the UK

The Government have recently published their roadmap for ending the UK lockdown.  When the UK reopens, it will instigate a 14-day quarantine period for all international arrivals.  If you are coming to the UK, you will need to have a registered address for this 14-day period.  You will need to provide the Government with your contact and accommodation information and will be strongly advised to download and use the NHS contact tracing app.

If you are unable to demonstrate where you will self-isolate, you will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the Government. 

 

 

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