Sunday, 17 January 2021

πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ Covid and UK visas: 5 most current questions

 






#1 What’s going on in the lockdown?
#2 My visa expires soon but I need to do an English or Life in the UK test, is anything open? 
#3 My visa expires soon but I haven’t met the income requirement or was on furlough. 
#4 I had to stay abroad longer than planned, will this affect my next application or settlement? What if my visa expired while abroad?
#5 Is the new ‘Brexit’ Points Based System operating? 


The answers: 

#1 What’s going on in the lockdown?

The immigration work continues, the UK authorities consider applications and issue visas. This work is done remotely, without facing a Government official, although this has been the case for over 2 years now. What did change due to Covid were the processing times: many applications take longer (but not all, we had some cases approved within days), plus there is no Priority services. Visa application centres in the UK are classed as essential services and remain open in the lockdown. Visa centres outside the UK remain open in most countries (but not everywhere), this depends on the Covid policies in each country. 

#2 My visa expires soon but I need to do English or Life in the UK test, is anything open? 

At this moment, inside the UK, both test centres remain open in the lockdown (unless changes later). If you are applying outside the UK and need an English test, you need to contact a local provider as it depends on the Covid regulations in your country. It is also possible to submit your application without a test and add it later, when you have the results. The most important thing is to submit your application on time, before your current visa expires, which is not the same as having all documents ready. 

#3 My visa expires soon but I haven’t met the income requirement or was on furlough. 

Again, the important thing is to submit your visa application on time, even if it means asking for a concession or to put it on hold while you are gathering the evidence (or taking a test). If you are on a Spouse/Partner visa, you should still try and qualify under the 5-year route, to keep a shorter path to settlement (unlike the 10-year route, which should be a Plan B). We had a more detailed post on furlough pay and it can be found on our Blog here.

In short, if your income suffered between 1 March 2020 and 1 January 2021 due to Coronavirus, this period can be disregarded when assessing your earnings, for both employees and the self-employed. The furlough pay (minimum 80%) can be counted as 100% of your normal employment income for a Spouse/Partner visa, Tier 2 and others (Ancestral etc). It can be used by Tier 1 Entrepreneurs for the purpose of Job Creation. Self-employed people can use Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants as income, too. This is a very simplified summary, for details please contact us or book online consultation here.
 

#4 I had to stay abroad longer than planned, will it affect my next application or settlement? What if my visa expired while abroad? 

The short answer is No, short breaks in residency (i.e. based on Covid travel restrictions and related circumstances) won't affect your immigration status. You would need some reasonable supporting evidence and generally, each case would have to be approached individually. Again, this is a simplified summary, please contact us for a more detailed advice. 

If your visa expired while abroad and you intended to apply for a subsequent one, such as extension or Settlement: currently, there's a concession for those who left the UK before 17 March 2020. There is a process to secure a visa to return to the UK and continue with your residency. This concession exists until 31 March 2021 unless extended. 

#5 Is the new 'Brexit’ Points Based System operating ? 

Absolutely! British businesses can now sponsor skilled workers from all over the world, not just Europe, in the faster manner than before Brexit. There are more jobs (occupations) that can be sponsored, lower salary levels (yet still market rates), no need to advertise jobs locally and no annual limit. Instead of waiting for months for a restricted certificate, it now takes 1 working day to secure a defined one (i.e. the new equivalent of a restricted COS). There are quite complex ‘mathematical' rules on calculating the appropriate salary in each case because there are several thresholds plus exceptions, plus some transitional rules. There are specified documents for Sponsors (employers), too. However, with our advice and more than 10 years of experience (including our own as a Tier 2 Sponsor), we can successfully guide you and your business on these matters! 

 

For an individual advice or to make an application, please contact us on this email: info@1st4immigration.com or book an online consultation with an immigration lawyer here


1st 4Immigration is one of the most experienced UK immigration law companies, OISC - accredited at the highest Level 3. We have been in business for over 10 years, our OISC reference is 200800152, in which 2008 stands for the year accreditation. Office: Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HN.  www.1st4immigration.com

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