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Migrants and Visitors - Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update (28 July 2020)

Date: 28/07/2020
Duncan Lewis, Immigration Solicitors, Migrants and Visitors - Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update


The government assisted thousands of migrants and visitors by offering them automatic extensions until 31 July 2020 in dealing with Covid-19 crisis, this concession will come to an end by end of this month.

You are then required to make all the necessary arrangements and leave the UK before this date where it is possible to do so. The government website makes it clear that you can apply to extend your visa after 31 July 2020 if you want to submit a new application such as a student or starting a new job as a migrant worker however it is not clear cut for those who cannot return for reasons such as having Covid-19 symptoms, self-isolating, shielding or because they cannot find flights to get back home.

For migrants in the above circumstances the only option is to submit a paid application and request discretionary leave to remain, bearing in mind that these applications are costly and time consuming.

Application and Service Centres

Some UK visa application centres around the UK have reopened for existing customers. The UKVI are offering reduced appointments and priority is given to those whose appointments were cancelled during the pandemic. New applicants are required to submit their applications and wait for an email notification of when they can book their appointment. The government website makes it clear that you will be contacted when you can book an appointment.

You can check which UKVCAS centres are open HERE.

English and Life in the UK Test Centres

Some centres have resumed business and taking new entrants they can be contacted through the below:

  • Trinity College London

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

  • LanguageCert website

  • Pearson Test of English

NHS Workers

NHS health workers and their families are offered automatic extension because of Covid-19.
These changes will apply to you if:

  • you work for the NHS or an independent health or care provider

  • your visa expires between 31 March and 1 October

  • you work as a:

    • biochemist

    • biological scientist

    • dental practitioner

    • health professional

    • medical practitioner

    • medical radiographer

    • midwife

    • nurse

    • occupational therapist

    • ophthalmologist

As a Tier 2 general migrant you can work at any NHS hospital and there is no need for your sponsor to notify the Home Office of any changes to your place of work. If you are a student and work in health care sector there is no longer a limit on number of hours you can work or volunteer.

Economic Migration

The Home office has published new guidance for Tier 2/5 and European nationals that can be found on links below:

Tiers 2 and 5: guidance for sponsors (16 July 2020)

EU Settlement Scheme: EU, other EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members (13 July 2020)

New Health Care Visa Route

Another welcoming news from Home Secretary Priti Patel confirming that as a result of the ongoing pandemic and following its manifesto commitment the government has introduced a new visa route for healthcare professionals. From 4 August 2020, the “Health and Care Visa” route will open for all applications. With this route trained health care workers will benefit from:

  • Fast track entry to the UK

  • Support with the application process for them and their families

  • Reduced via fees

  • And exemption from paying immigration Health surcharge

Eligible roles include paramedics, social workers, nurses, midwives, scientists, pharmacists and medical practitioners among others.

This route is subject to eligibility requirements such as appropriate salary level, sufficient personal savings, qualifications and having a Tier 2 certificate of sponsorship (COS).

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

We are indebted to overseas health and care professionals for their tremendous contributions, not just in saving thousands of lives throughout this crisis, but for the vital role they play year-round.

This new visa is part of our new immigration system making it quicker, cheaper and easier for the best and brightest health and care professionals from around the globe to work in our brilliant NHS.

Health and care professionals from all over the world have played a vital role in hospitals and care homes across the country fighting coronavirus. The introduction of the Health and Care Visa follows a number of unprecedented measures to show the UK’s gratitude to health workers from overseas.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:

Our health and care system has always had a proud tradition of welcoming overseas staff to work, train and live in the UK, and I’m proud that the NHS is a destination of choice for talented people from around the world.

The unwavering commitment, skill and compassion staff have shown during the fight against this deadly virus is nothing short of phenomenal, and the reimbursement of the immigration health surcharge recognises the enormous contribution of those who have come to the UK to work in health and social care.

I’m incredibly proud of our health and care workforce and look forward to welcoming new professionals from across the globe to continue the fantastic work to ensure our health system remains the best in the world.

Right across the immigration system the Home Office is already supporting frontline healthcare staff through initiatives such as visa extensions and the creation of the bereavement scheme.

When Priti Patel first unveiled plans for the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system, social care did not feature on the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List, which includes job roles with a lenient minimum salary threshold of £20,480.

It is unknown what the salary threshold will be for care workers. However, with even senior staff earning under £20,000 a year, the current minimum salary mark will have to be dropped to make the new, special visa effective.

The full list of eligible professions is:

  • 2112 – Biological scientists and biochemists

  • 2113 – Physical Scientists

  • 2211 – Medical Practitioners

  • 2212 – Psychologists

  • 2213 – Pharmacists

  • 2214 – Ophthalmic Opticians

  • 2215 – Dental practitioners

  • 2217 – Medical Radiographers

  • 2218 – Podiatrists

  • 2219 – Health Professionals not elsewhere classified

  • 2221 – Physiotherapists

  • 2222 – Occupational Therapists

  • 2223 – Speech and Language Therapists

  • 2229 – Therapy professionals not elsewhere classified

  • 2231 – Nurses

  • 2232 – Midwives

  • 2442 – Social Workers

  • 3213 – Paramedics

In short, to be eligible for a Health and Care Visa, the worker must be offered one of the above jobs with an NHS Trust, Health Board, NHS commissioned service providers. The prospective worker can also get an offer for a place in eligible occupations in the social care sector.

We are stringently following the government advice here at Duncan Lewis Solicitors and can advise and assist you with all your immigration enquiries.

Contact our immigration directors Tamana Aziz, Vicash Ramkissoon, and Ayan Yalchin for more information.

Contact Tamana Aziz on 0203 114 1130, or at tamanaa@duncanlewis.com

Contact Vicash Ramkissoon on 0203 114 1105, or at vicashr@duncanlewis.com

Contact Ayan Yalchin on 0207 275 2011, or at ayany@duncanlewis.com

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