Working and travelling around the UK amid the Coronavirus
The overall restrictions that have been implemented by most countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are creating immigration challenges for people stuck in the UK. The Home Office mentioned that in many cases, original visa terms and conditions will continue to apply where individuals will benefit from extensions due to the pandemic. The home office also assured people trapped in the UK with visas legally going to expire, or have already expired, unable to leave because of the travel restrictions, that they will not be marked out as ‘overstayers’ or have to deal with penalties later.
Furthermore, they stated that people with expiring visas will be provided extensions until the 31st of July. They have also changed the system to allow people to handle visa application processes from the country itself, in cases where it wasn’t allowed earlier. Visas already extending to any time between these dates are automatically pushed to the 31st of July for the convenience of travellers. However, the rest will have to fill out online application forms mentioning the details and reason for their extension.
What are the rules relating to switching from one visa category to another?
Migrants in the UK, looking to move to a long-term UK immigration category, cannot switch from within the UK but have to leave and apply from their home country. However, in this instance, the Home Office is exceptionally allowing people who cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation, to switch in-country until the end of July. This is only if their visas are expiring anytime between now and July 2020.
How is the Home Office dealing with affected employees overseas?
Many UK visa application centres overseas and English language testing facilities are currently closed or temporarily shutting down. Other than travel restrictions, this will naturally delay the ability for people to get back to the UK.
Some passports are with closed visa application centres, preventing these individuals from making their way back until they receive their passports, post the centres opening up.
What is the temporary process put together to assist with the proper checks at work?
The new temporary process for conducting the right work checks is:
- Asking workers to submit scanned copies or photos of their original documents via email or a mobile app
- Recording the date the checks were made and marking it “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to Covid-19
- Getting applicants to provide permissions to accept their details and if they have a Biometric Residence Permit, Biometric Residence Card, or status under the EU Settlement Scheme, using the online right to work checking service while doing a video call
- Contacting the Home Office Employer checking service, if a job applicant doesn’t submit their documents
How are companies supposed to assist with the following up?
The Home Office stated multiple times that these are temporary measures and are releasing further guidance and concessions to give employers sufficient time to revert to the previous checks when hiring employees.
Employers are made to keep records of all individuals checked using this new process, additionally having to carry out further checks on existing employees who:
- started working while temporary measures applied
- required a follow-up right to work check while temporary measures applied
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This article contributed by Diksha Govekar.