This is the archive page for Covid related news.
Useful COVID-19 information
- University of Leeds coronavirus webpages
- Advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents
- Entering the UK
- Safer air travel for passengers
- Travel corridors
- Travelling overseas - advice by country
Switching visa type in the UK
The coronavirus concession allowing you to switch from a Visitor visa in the UK into a longer term route (such as Skilled Worker) has now ended. To be eligible to switch, your current visa type must be listed on the relevant gov.uk page (for example the Skilled Worker Visa "switch to this visa type" page).
EU Settlement Scheme - absences from the UK due to coronavirus
The Home Office has updated their guidance to explain your situation if covid-19 has affected your residence in the UK. Please check the information on absences if you are concerned.
Travel to the UK
From 17 May 2021, countries which are not on the the 'red list' for entering England will be rated 'amber' or 'green'. Each list has its own rules for coming to the UK, so please check to find out which list your country is on, and make sure you comply with all travel restrictions including pre-departure testing. Please check the travel advice issued by your carrier and check what you need to do before entering the UK.
Right to work checks
The Home Office has confirmed that we will need to re-start in-person right to work checks for some staff from 21 June 2021. We are reviewing how to manage this, and will confirm further details in due course.
24 March 2021 - Exceptional assurance
'Exceptional assurance' has now been extended to all visas expiring before 30 June 2021. If you already have exceptional assurance, you'll need to reapply if it expires before then or if your circumstances have changed.
See gov.uk for more information.
22 March 2021 - Exceptional assurance
The Home Office's 'Exceptional assurance' arrangement has been extended to all visas expiring before 30 April 2021. If you already have exceptional assurance, you'll need to reapply if it expires before then or if your circumstances have changed.
See gov.uk for more information
8 March 2021 - Leaving the Common Travel Area from England
From today, most people travelling to a country outside the Common Travel Area (the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Ireland) from England will need to complete a Declaration form for international travel. If you try to travel without this, you will be committing a criminal offence for which you could be fined. There are exemptions for certain jobs/conditions.
There are limited situations where travel is allowed, but the traveller must still complete a declaration form.
3 March 2021 - Coronavirus 'exceptional assurance'
The Home Office has updated its information on exceptional assurance, extending the provision to visas expiring on or before 31 March 2021. Visit gov.uk for more details.
Rules for lockdown in England
The UK Prime Minister announced a 'roadmap' for getting out of the current lockdown situation. There are several key dates when, all being well, changes will be introduced. At the moment, England is still in a national lockdown. You must stay at home, leaving only where permitted by law, and follow the rules in the guidance.
In brief, the following changes are scheduled for 8 March 2021:
o We will be able to socialise outdoors with one other person, or with our household or support bubble.
o Schools and further education colleges will reopen for all students.
o Childcare will be available.
o Students on practical Higher Education courses at English universities will be able to return if they have not already only if they would not be able to complete their course if they did not return.
o International travel will still be restricted and anyone wishing to leave the UK will need to complete an outbound declaration of travel form before leaving (holidays will still not be a reason to leave the UK).
o Regular indoor visits with someone in a care home will be allowed for a single named visitor.
The Clinically Extremely Vulnerable are advised not to attend work, school or education until 31 March.
You can find more information on gov.uk.
12 February 2021 - Hotel quarantine for arrivals in the UK from countries on the 'red list' (banned travel)
The details of the hotel quarantine scheme for arrivals in England have now been announced.
The only people allowed to enter the UK from countries on the UK government's 'red list' will be British and Irish nationals, and those with residence rights in the UK (which currently includes entry clearance and permission to stay). Importantly, the list does not refer to your nationality, but to a country/countries you have visited or passed through in the 10 days before your arrival in England - everyone entering England from the relevant countries must quarantine for 10 days in a quarantine hotel.
Please see the gov.uk page on hotel quarantine for details of how to book, cost, which ports you can arrive in, what you need to do before you travel and what you'll be allowed to do during your 10 day quarantine period.
- Travelling to the UK from a country which is not on the 'red list'
If you are entering the UK from a country which is not on the 'red list', you'll still need to quarantine but you can do this in a location of your choosing. Please see gov.uk's How to quarantine when you arrive in England which tells you what you will need to do before you travel, and how and where to quarantine.
- Unauthorised migrants can get the coronavirus vaccine
The Home Office has confirmed that "Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to everyone living in the UK free of charge, regardless of immigration status." Treatment for coronavirus is also available to unauthorised/undocumented migrants.
10 February 2021 - New quarantine requirements from Monday 15th February
From 15 February, anyone entering the UK from a country with a travel ban to the UK must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.
Visit gov.uk to check which countries are on the travel ban list (note: this changes regularly)
View the Home Office announcement on quarantine - exact details, such as which 'facilities' will be used and how to book, are due to be published on Thursday 11 February.
- Information for indefinite leave holders
Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) / Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK expires after 2 years' absence.
The Home Office has announced updated guidance in light of the pandemic for people who find themselves in this situation.
In short, you will need to complete the online Returning Resident application form and pay the fee (which will be refunded) to get back into the UK and resume your ILE/ILR.
Please see the section titled "If you’ve remained outside the UK for over 2 years and due to coronavirus travel restrictions your indefinite leave has lapsed" on gov.uk for more information.
3 February 2021 - Border restrictions (England)
New measures were announced last week.
Travel out of the UK:
o anyone trying to leave the UK will need a valid reason to travel (this will be checked) - it is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes
o there'll be an increased police presence at ports and airports, fining those in breach of the stay at home regulations
Seeking to enter the UK:
o travel from some countries into the UK is banned (note: a travel ban is in place even if someone's just transited through an affected country)
o those permitted to enter must (a) have a negative covid test within the 3 days before travel (with results in English, French or Spanish) and (b) complete a passenger locator form and (c) self-isolate for 10 days on arrival, even with a negative covid test (or 5 days if they have a negative test through the Test to Release scheme)
o where the UK has introduced a travel ban, nationals who cannot be refused entry will have to self-isolate in a hotel
o police will carry out more physical checks at addresses to make sure people are self-isolating
- Visit visas to the UK
Guidance for those wanting to come to the UK on a Visitor visa has been updated in line with border restrictions. Applications from countries where a travel ban is in place will be delayed, and visas will only be issued when suspension of travel is lifted.
If you need to travel urgently for compassionate reasons, you can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre (CIH) for guidance. The email subject should be ‘Visitor Visa – Urgent Travel Request’, it must be in English andyou must provide your name, date of birth and full details of your circumstances.
Applications for visas for work, study or residence in the UK continue to be accepted from all locations but you must comply with UK border measures.
Necessary travel to Europe
If you need to travel to Europe, gov.uk has a helpful list of things you might need to consider. This includes information on passports, travel insurance, driving etc.
There is a second page which lists additional considerations for business travellers such as entry requirements and earning money in the EU.
8 January 2021
Happy new year, colleagues! Unfortunately there has been no rest for the Home Office, so there has been quite a lot of activity over the Christmas break. There were two particularly wide-ranging changes which came into effect on 1 January 2021:
1. End of free movement with the European Union
A very warm welcome to new EEA/Swiss colleagues to the UK immigration system. If you are coming to the UK in 2021 and beyond to work, you will need to apply for permission before you travel (see Skilled Worker Visa section below).
If you were living in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you don't need a visa, but you do need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled or settled status. As long as we have a copy of your passport, you don't need this to continue to work for us, but you will need it to continue to access UK benefits and services like the NHS. The deadline for you to apply is 30 June 2021.
- Existing visa holders who are already in the UK and starting a new job at Leeds
Covid adjusted rules have been in place allowing you to start work for a new sponsor/employer as soon as you were able to provide evidence that you had submitted your visa application. These rules now only apply to Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned before 1 January 2021.
If your CoS has been assigned to you since then, you will not be able to start work at Leeds until you receive your new Biometric Residence Permit and can provide this to us.
- Switching between immigration routes in the UK
The temporary concession allowing people to switch in the UK to a visa for which they would normally need to apply overseas has now ended. In particular, it is no longer possible to switch from a visitor visa to any other kind of permission while in the UK.
- Absence from the UK if you have pre-settled status
If you are overseas at the moment and have been for more than 6 months, you may have lost your right to 'upgrade' to settled status after 5 years residence in the UK. The only exception is for "an important reason" - in relation to the pandemic, this is where the Home Office considers that you are/have been forced to remain outside the UK due to travel restrictions, quarantine or COVID-19 related health complications. Unfortunately, this does not cover you choosing to remain overseas for economic reasons, to be closer to your family members or because you considered the risk to your health to be greater in the UK than in another country.
If you are in this situation you will be able to return to, and remain in, the UK until your pre-settled status expires. If you are unable to upgrade to settled status, you may be eligible for a visa. If you have any concerns, please contact us.
- UKVCAS centres
If you have an appointment at a UKVCAS centre in the UK, please rest assured that the centres "are considered an essential public service and will continue to operate safely under local and national restrictions."