Guidance for self-employed UK visa holders amid coronavirus

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Comment by Sanwar Ali:

It seems the UK coronavirus lockdown will continue in the UK for some time.  There may be some slight easing of the restrictions soon.  The Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make an announcement on Sunday evening about the UK lockdown. Large number of migrants have been affected financially due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.   

UK visa migrants can also benefit from the furlough scheme, which may also be relevant for business owners in some circumstances.  The new coronavirus bounce back scheme with the hundred percent government guarantee has been enormously popular with more than a hundred thousand  applicants within a few days recently.  However, some banks including HSBC have been criticised for being slow in administering the scheme.  The cost to the UK taxpayer for all these Government subsidised schemes could very well be over a £100 billion.

Ahead of a HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) grant scheme that opens online on 13 May, 2020 there are some key considerations for self-employed UK visa holders thinking of applying. Under the terms of most UK visas, including the Tier 2 work visa, foreign nationals are prohibited from accessing public funds - known as ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF).

However, the Home Office has confirmed that the HMRC Self-Employment Income Support Scheme set to launch on 13 May, which enables you to claim a taxable grant of up to £7,500 or 80% of your average monthly trading profits for a three-month period, whichever is the lowest amount of the two, will not be classified as recourse to public funds.  Please note that there are certain conditions for applying.  For example you should have traded for the tax year 2018/2019 and have already have submitted your tax return.

The UK government has confirmed that foreign nationals with a work visa that allows them to be self-employed can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Certain eligibility criteria must be met for self-employed scheme

Government guidelines do specify that for a UK visa holder to be eligible for a grant, certain key criteria must be met. There is an online tool available to check your eligibility. To qualify, the following conditions must be met:

  1. You must apply for the grant personally. A third-party is not permitted to apply on your behalf.
  2. You must be self-employed or part of a business partnership in the UK.
  3. The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected your trade in the following ways:
  • You have been forced to self-isolate, you’re on sick leave as a result of the virus or you’re caring for a dependant vulnerable to the virus and you therefore, cannot work.
  • Your business supply chain has been disrupted, you have fewer customers or your staff are unable to attend work, therefore, you have had to scale down your business or temporarily stop trading.
  1. You plan to continue trading in 2021 having traded in tax years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  2. For the 2018-19 tax year, you filed your Self-Assessment tax return before 23 April, 2020. Unfortunately, if you failed to submit your tax return prior to this date, you will be ineligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
  3. If you operate through a trust or you are above the state limit, you will be unable to apply for a grant.


Information needed to make a claim

Should you choose to claim, you will need to provide the following information:

  • Your Government Gateway user ID and password. If you do not have a Government Gateway account, you can set up one up. If you have forgotten your login information you can reset the account
  • Your unique Self-Assessment Tax Reference (UTR) – you can find this in the top right hand corner of any Self-Assessment tax notice issued to you by HMRC
  • Your National Insurance (NI) number
  • Your bank account number and sort code

Potential repercussions for migrants from making an application

Any false claim made or incorrect information given will result in HMRC taking action to retrieve grant money, this includes making an application if you have not been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in any way specified in the eligibility guidelines.

Evidence of a false claim could be reported to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) by HMRC. If there’s proof that you deliberately misled HMRC or knowingly provided false information, any future UK visa or citizenship application could be refused.

UKVI has a history of rejecting indefinite leave to remain and UK citizenship applications based on information on a visa application being different from details given to HMRC. It’s expected that UKVI would act just as accordingly in the event of a false or misleading application for a Self-Employment Income Support grant.

Visa uncertainty for UK migrant workers

During the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, has reported on the uncertainty faced by UK work visa holders and the employers sponsoring them. While the government has introduced a visa extension scheme for Tier 2 visa holders working for the NHS or in private healthcare, many other skilled foreign workers have been left in limbo.

In early April, Tech Nation - an organisation designated by the Home Office to endorse applications for the Global Talent Visa in digital technology – called for Tier 2 visa holders made redundant during the coronavirus to have their visas extended.

Tech Nation chief executive, Gerard Grech, urged the Home Office to extend visas by 18 months.

Coronavirus in the UK

As of 6 May, 2020 UK coronavirus cases reached 194,990, with the death toll at 29,427, which is reportedly now the highest in Europe after the UK overtook Italy. However, this is unverified because of the way countries record deaths related to COVID-19. London and the Midlands have been hardest hit by the virus in the UK.

Latest coronavirus updates, visa and immigration restrictions

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, plus details of visa and immigration restrictions worldwide, check’s news feed to stay informed.

To apply for a UK visa extension amid the coronavirus pandemic, see this recent news report. can help with Tier 2 Visa Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 Visa

If you need help with a Tier 2 visa, or a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, including help with complying with your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence obligations, can help.

For more information and advice on Tier 2 Sponsor Licences, UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at