Across the globe, measures are being taken to combat the spread of coronavirus. This is causing mass disruption to inbound and outbound UK travel, in particular to migrants who are currently on temporary leave in the UK or who are in the process of applying to come to the UK.
UK Visa Partners have been receiving an increasing number of enquiries from Tier 2 sponsors concerned about various issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. We therefore set out below a guide to the current Frequently Asked Questions from both Tier 2 sponsors and migrants
My visa is due to expire shortly in the UK. Will it be temporarily extended?
The Government has published guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
How will absences from employment due to Covid-19 affect my Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa?
Usually, sponsors must report to UKVI if a sponsored worker does not ‘turn up for their first day of work’. Once they have started work, the sponsor must then report if the worker is absent from work for more than 10 working days without permission.
However, UKVI have confirmed that sponsors will not be required to report any absences from students or employees sponsored under the Tier 2 or Tier 5 categories where the absences have been a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Sponsors will also not be required to withdraw sponsorship for employees who have exceeded 4 weeks of absence without pay. It is recommended that the employer keeps records of all communication with the sponsored migrant as evidence of the period of absence. Absences may be due to the following reasons
1) The migrant, or a relative, are unwell;
2) The migrant is unable to travel to the UK;
3) The place of work closes completely or partially.
Can a Tier 2 or Tier 5 migrant work from home?
Sponsors have always had to report a change in work location. However, given the current circumstances, unless the migrant’s usual place of work changes, for the time being, a sponsor should not need to report if their workers are working from home. However, if a Sponsor would like to report this, they can do so.
We would recommend that before any employee works from home, the employer checks that their records are up-to-date with their current residential address and direct contact details.
What if there is a delay in the work start date?
There has been no update as regards the situation where there is a delay in the work start date, and therefore the current rules as to the start date should be abided by. The Certificate of Sponsorship should include the exact date that you/employer intends to commence employment.
Depending on when and how the Tier 2 visa is issued, this date may be delayed. If you would like further advice in this regards, please contact us.
Can I apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa within the UK?
During these unique circumstances you’ll be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.
You’ll need to meet the same visa requirements 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.
Are visa application centres still open?
In the current circumstances, some service points in the UK already closed. Here’s the list
UK Visa Partners will keep eyes on the latest news and policy related to COVID-19, if you want to apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa, or if you have any further questions, please don’t hestitate to contact us!
Stay safe and take care!