01293 889691 / info@twolimited.co.uk 

CORONAVIRUS FAQs 

A coronavirus immigration helpline and email address is available for immigration enquiries related only to coronavirus: Telephone: 0800 678 1767  Open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm. Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. 

 
Please select a heading below to expand the full range of questions within that topic 
 
Q: Please can you point me in the direction of information for Tier 2 sponsors during this time? 
Sponsored employees can start even if they are waiting for a Tier 2 / 5 application to be decided, subject to conditions. 
Sponsors are not currently required to report any absences from students or employees sponsored under Tier 2, Tier 4, or Tier 5, where those absences have been the result of the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. 
Sponsors are also not required to withdraw sponsorship for employees who have exceeded four weeks of absence without pay. 
Similarly, Tier 2 and 5 sponsors do not need to update the Home Office if workers are now working from home, provided that the switch to home working is because of the pandemic. 
In an update to the guidance on 3 April, the Home Office added that employers can cut the pay of sponsored employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 a month (whichever is lower). 
 
 
Q: We have assigned a certificate of sponsorship, but the individual has not yet applied for their visa. Where do we all stand? 
A: The Tier 2 coronavirus advice does state that the employee will still be able to apply for a visa. The start date of employment stated on the CoS may have changed; UKVI have acknowledged they will not automatically refuse such cases. "For example, we may accept a CoS if they have become invalid because the employee was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. We will consider this on a case by case basis".teh 
 
 
Q: We have a new starter with a Tier 2 general visa, expected to start from 1st May. The initial entry clearance visa expires on 17th May. In normal circumstances the individual would arrive in the UK and collect their BRP, but given the circumstances we wondered if there is a possibility of extending this period? 
A: UKVI had been very quiet on this matter; until 28 April the Home Office did not advertise any concessions for people who have secured entry clearance to the UK but cannot use it before it expires after 30 days. But on 28 April the guidance was changed. A new section now says: "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." 
Note that this does not cover visit visas. To get the free replacement, email the coronavirus helpline with “your name, nationality, date of birth and your GWF reference number” and put REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA as the subject line. UK visa centres abroad are closed so the replacement visa will not be issued until they reopen. 
 
 
Q: Our new Tier 2 employee has been unable to travel to the UK in time for her start date. She has an entry clearance sticker in her passport which will expire on 17th April. She has contacted the COVID helpline but not got anywhere, and we have contacted the UKVI business helpdesk with her written consent (as they request), but not had a response. She remains in the United States, and employment from home started on 1st April. We are looking for assurance that she will be able to continue working for us (albeit at home) after 17th April. 
A: Whilst your employee remains outside of the UK there is no requirement for a visa to prove right to work, so she can continue to work for you. The difficulty is going to arise upon her arrival in the UK. Please see the response above regarding the issue of an entry clearance visa which will have expired by the time travel is permitted.  
 
 
Q: Our new starter has not received their Tier 2 visa. Are they able to start work? 
A: On 14 April, UKVI confirmed sponsored employees can start work even if they are still waiting for a Tier 2 or 5 application to be decided. You may allow employees to start work before their visa application has been decided if: you have assigned them a CoS; the employee submitted their application before their current visa expired; and the role they are employed in is the same as the one on their CoS. 
 
 
Q. What is the most recent information for student visa holders? 
A: On 20 April the Home Office released a specific guidance document concerning coronavirus and student visas. It covers a number of temporary immigration concessions for those on Tier 4 and short-term student visas which “will be withdrawn once the situation returns to normal”: 
Students are allowed to start their studies even if they are still waiting for a Tier 4 application to be decided. 
Distance learning: now permitted. 
Working hours: 20-hour a week restriction lifted for doctors, nurses, paramedics and those whose sponsor has suspended all study. 
Volunteering: permitted for NHS Volunteer Responders. 
Time limits: “discretion may be applied” if someone applies for an extension that would take them over the normal maximum period allowed on a Tier 4 (General) visa. 
Right to rent checks: can be done remotely. 
Extending a Tier 4 visa: can be done in line with the general policy. “Students who need to repeat a year, retake a module, or resit an exam are exempt from demonstrating academic progression as would normally be the case for those applying in the UK”. 
Police registration: suspended. 
 
 
Q: What is the most recent information for Tier 4 sponsors? 
A: As per above, this specific guidance document provides updated information for on Tier 4. Sponsor-specific concessions are: 
Students are allowed to start their studies even if they are still waiting for a Tier 4 application to be decided. 
Educational oversight: can be done remotely; “flexible approach to unavoidable delays in inspection”. 
Student absences: do not need to be reported if due to COVID-19. 
Distance learning: now permitted. 
Attendance monitoring: no need to report students for missing expected contact points. 
Basic compliance assessments: students who drop out because of COVID-19 do not count. 
Validity of CAS which have already been issued: “The Home Office will take a pragmatic approach to considering applications to study courses with significantly different start dates to those stated on CAS or expired CAS”. 
Original documents: Appendix D record-keeping can be digital. 
English language: “higher education providers with a track record of compliance will be able to self-assess students as having a B1 level of English”. 
Commencing studies: can be done even if the visa application is still pending, subject to certain conditions. 
ATAS certificates: still needed but cannot be obtained directly from the Foreign Office; contact coronavirus helpline if needed urgently. 
Right to work checks: can be done remotely. 
Child students: duty of care and safeguarding duties continue to apply. 
 
 
Q: How do we approach safeguarding if students are prevented from attending school? 
A: UKVI will continue to expect that suitable arrangements are made for international students – a school will continue to have a duty of care even if the pupil is not on the school site. This is not our area of expertise, but one good source of information can be found here. In brief, the school should know where the student is; who the student is staying with; keep in regular contact with the student (which could include monitoring use of online resources) and keep in regular contact with parents. We are sure you will be doing this already. 
 
 
 
The UK government has released immigration guidance for everyone affected by Coronavirus travel restrictions. Please refer to this page for the latest advice, which should be updated as the situation changes. UKVI have stated: 
 
"The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorise absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason. The Home Office will keep this under review, especially if the length of absences means a potential repeat of period of studies become necessary.” 
 
 
Q: My visa is due to expire imminently; however, I am unable to leave the UK due to the travel restrictions. What do I do? 
A: No individual of any nationality whose leave has expired or is due to expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, and who cannot leave the UK because of COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in the future. The Home Office is granting visa extensions on request to those with leave expiring before 31 May 2020, and who cannot leave the UK because of coronavirus. Government guidance says: 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). To get this extension, those affected must fill in an online form.  
N.B. To clarify, between 24 March and 6 April, UKVI requested applications for an extension under this policy be submitted by email to the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. That set-up has since been replaced by the online form.  
 
 
Q: My 30-day entry clearance visa has expired. I am unable to travel to the UK at this time. What do I do? 
A: UKVI had been very quiet on this matter; until 28 April the Home Office did not advertise any concessions for people who have secured entry clearance to the UK but cannot use it before it expires after 30 days. But on 28 April the guidance was changed. A new section now says: "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." 
Note that this does not cover visit visas. To get the free replacement, email the coronavirus helpline with “your name, nationality, date of birth and your GWF reference number” and put REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA as the subject line. UK visa centres abroad are closed so the replacement visa will not be issued until they reopen. 
 
 
Q: I was due to leave the UK and apply for a visa in order to return to the UK long-term. I am currently on a visa which does not enable me to apply for a long term visa from within the UK. What can I do? 
A: This guidance includes information on switching visas. It allows people to “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”. It seems fair to assume this would be an in-country application, rather than an application for entry clearance. N.B. The concession is limited to people whose visa is due to expire by 31 May 2020. 
 
 
Q: I have read something about NHS staff being granted visa extensions. Please can you clarify the situation? 
A: The Home Office announced (31 March) that around 2,800 doctors, nurses and paramedics with leave due to expire by 1 October 2020 would get a free one-year extension. Family members are included and there are no fees involved. N.B. The government website suggests that this concession is limited to NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics with a “work visa” only. Those individuals on a different type of visa, which happens to grant the right to work in the UK, would not be included within this cohort. BUT the Immigration Law Practitioners Association reported on 22 April that “the Home Office has confirmed to ILPA that the NHS extension is not limited to those on Tier 2 visas”, so such individuals are eligible as well.  
 
Our site uses cookies. For more information, see our cookie policy. Accept cookies and close
Reject cookies Manage settings