Sanwar Ali: UK Visas, financial support and coronavirus

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Recent Docklands and City of London scene during coronavirus

Sanwar Ali, workpermit.com

By Sanwar Ali:

One of the biggest issues facing many UK visa migrants in the UK is job security and financial security.  The UK has launched a number of schemes to help fund employers during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic including the self-employed scheme, the furlough scheme and bounce back loans scheme.  Tier 2 visa holders working for employers with a Sponsor Licence and others should benefit.  One bit of good news for migrants in the UK is that following a recent High Court ruling it should be easier for migrants to claim public funds.

UK Bounce Back Loans scheme benefits migrants

The bounce back loans scheme was launched on Monday 4 May 2020 with a quick and simple online application form system targetted at smaller businesses.  The UK Government is providing a hundred percent guarantee and loan amounts can be between £2,000 and £50,000, limited to 25 percent of annual turnover. The UK Government will pay the fees and interest for the first twelve months.  This should help many employers continue to employ migrants who they would have otherwise had to let go.  

More than 200,000 applications have been made under the scheme.  There has been criticisms that some lenders such as HSBC have been slow to lend.  Also, not enough lenders have been included under the scheme.  Anyway, this scheme has so far been much more successful than the original Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) scheme with the 80 percent Government guarantee.

High Court ruling that denial of benefits to migrant families unlawful

Lawyers acting for an eight year old boy have won a High Court ruling that the UK visas at Home Office no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy is unlawful.  Hopefully, now more migrants will be able to seek support from the Government.  

Current Home Office policy makes it more likely that migrant families become destitute, increases public health risks and makes it more likely that migrants will live in overcrowded accommodation.  The boy known as W in Court had lived a life of extreme poverty.  His mother’s salary was insufficient to keep him properly housed and fed. 

Concession for Migrants whose visa expires between 24 January and 31 May 2020

As previously reported those whose visa expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020 can apply to remain in the UK.  In addition, in many cases migrants wishing to apply for longer term visas who would not usually be able to apply from within the UK, can apply within the UK to remain.  However, this does not mean that the twelve month cooling off period does not apply, which is relevant for some Tier 2 visa main applicants.  In other respects you still have to meet the usual requirements for the particular visa category that you wish to come under.  As the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions continue it is very possible that more people will be able to come under this scheme whose visas expire after 31 May 2020.  We do not know yet.

Healthcare workers who are eligible for a free one year visa extension

If you are a healthcare worker whose visa expires before 1 October 2020 you are eligible for a one year extension if you come under the following occupations:

  • biochemist
  • biological scientist
  • dental practitioner
  • health professional
  • medical practitioner
  • medical radiographer
  • midwife
  • nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • ophthalmologist
  • paramedic
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • podiatrist
  • psychologist
  • social worker
  • speech and language therapist
  • therapy professional

This includes those working in the NHS and at an independent healthcare provider. 

UK Visa application centres remain closed both in the UK and abroad

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) in the UK remain closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19).  Your visa status will not change due to your inability to attend for an interview.   If you have applied for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa you can start work even if your visa has not been approved as long as you have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).

All UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) overseas are closed. For updates to the status of VACs in your country, please check the following sites:

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

Coronavirus in the UK

As of 9 May 2020 UK coronavirus cases reached 215,260, with the death toll at 31,587, which some say is now the highest in Europe after the UK overtook Italy.  The actual number of cases may be far higher than this.  However, as countries record deaths related to COVID-19 differently it can be difficult to compare different Countries. 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 Workpermit.com’s news feed to stay informed.

To apply for a UK visa extension amid the coronavirus pandemic, see this recent Workpermit.com news report.

Workpermit.com 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, workpermit.com 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 london@workpermit.com