The UK COVID – 19 Update

Employers and visa holders are advised to collect evidence of any travel restrictions or flight cancelations causing them to overstay their permission to be in the UK, and to email an explanation to the Home Office coronavirus mailbox.

The Home Office recognizes 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 authorize absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason. Applicants with coronavirus symptoms should not attend their appointment at a UK Visas and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre. Instead, visa applicants must email a dedicated mailbox and explain that this is the reason that they cannot attend. Sopra Steria will refund the application fee and notify the Home Office accordingly. Individuals who, following their appointment at a UKVCAS centre develop symptoms or are diagnosed with coronavirus must inform Sopra Steria, by emailing the same mailbox.

Chinese nationals in the UK who are normally resident in China and whose visas expire between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 will have their visas automatically extended to 31 March 2020. Non-Chinese and non-EEA nationals in the UK who can prove that they are normally resident in China and whose visas expire between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 should contact the COVID-19 immigration helpline to have their visas extended to 31 March 2020.

Chinese nationals in the UK whose leave was granted by the Irish authorities and expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 March 2020 should contact the COVID-19 immigration helpline to discuss their consequences. Chinese nationals in the UK on a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa who want to switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa can exceptionally apply from within the UK, instead of from China, if their visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020. They will still need to pay the relevant fee and meet all other requirements for a Tier 2 General visa.

British nationals whose passports are at a UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) in China can apply for an emergency travel document if they need to travel urgently. Chinese or third-country nationals whose passports are at a UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) in China should contact the Chinese authorities or their consular representative in China to get an alternative travel document if they need to travel urgently. The Home Office will not take any compliance action against Tier 4 students or Tier 2/5 employees who are unable to attend their work/studies due to the COVID-19 outbreak, or against sponsors which authorize absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason. Returning travelers or visitors arriving in the UK from Wuhan city and Hubei province (mainland China), Daegu or Cheongdo (South Korea), Iran or any Italian town under containment measures should self-isolate, even if asymptomatic, and call NHS 111 to inform of recent travel.

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