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Immigration update: Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance

The Home Office has updated it’s guidance for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Due to travel restrictions because of coronavirus some individuals may be facing uncertainty in relation to the expiry date of their current visa or leave to remain in the United Kingdom. As this is because of circumstances beyond their control, the Home Office can grant people in the UK whose immigration status is affected an automatic extension of their visa until 31 March 2020..

Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa has recently expired or is about to expire 

Chinese nationals on any valid visa in the UK will be automatically be given visa extensions to 31 March 2020 if the visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

They will also get an automatic extension if in the UK on a long-term standard visitor visa that lasts 2, 5 or 10 years and they have reached the maximum stay of 180 days between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

If this applies to you, you don’t need to do anything to get this extension and will remain subject to the same immigration conditions attached to your visa during the extension period.

If you are intending to apply to extend your stay in the UK before 31 March 2020 you should continue to do so.

Non-Chinese, non-EEA nationals in the UK normally resident in China

If you are a non-Chinese or non-EEA national in the UK but are normally resident in China and your visa in the UK has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 you will need to contact the Home Office in order to extend your visa.

Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by Irish authorities (British Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS)

If you are a Chinese national in the UK with a visa that was granted by the Irish authorities and has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline to discuss your circumstances.

Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by the Crown Dependencies

If you are a Chinese national in the UK with a visa that was granted by a Crown Dependency and has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline to discuss your circumstances.

Switching to a Tier 2 category in the UK

If you are a Chinese national in the UK on a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa and want to switch to a Tier 2 General visa you normally need to return to China to make your application.

You can exceptionally apply to switch from a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer to a Tier 2 General visa from within the UK if your visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

You will still need to pay the relevant fee and meet all the requirements of a Tier 2 General visa, other than the requirement that you usually have to apply in China.

Licensed Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 sponsors: absences due to coronavirus

Some Tier 4 students or Tier 2/5 employees may be prevented from attending their studies or employment due to illness, the need to serve a period of quarantine or the inability to travel due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus.

Sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which they have authorised.

Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship if they consider there are exceptional circumstances when:a student will be unable to attend for more than 60 daysan employee is absent from work without pay for four weeks or moreDecisions on whether to withdraw a student from their studies or terminate an employment are for sponsors to make. 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 mean a potential repeat of period of studies become necessary.

If you are unsure about your situation and would to discuss your circumstances with our expert Immigration team, please call us on for a free confidential consultation.


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