News archive - 2020
This is the archive page for 2020 immigration news.
You can download archived news from 2018 and 2019 at the bottom of this page.
Home Office updates to existing information
The following gov.uk pages have been updated recently:
- Frontier Worker Permit
- Social security contributions for workers coming to the UK from the EEA or Switzerland
- Healthcare for EEA/Swiss citizens living in or moving to the UK
UK NARIC Visas and Nationality Service
UK NARIC, which allows visa applicants to use their non-UK qualifications to meet visa requirements, has changed its services to meet the needs of the new immigration system. They now offer 3 services under their Visas and Nationality umbrella:
Visas and Nationality (English proficiency)
This service is for qualifications which were taught overseas, but in English, to demonstrate the level of the qualification and English proficiency for a UK visa application. Assessments will normally be completed with 10 working days of receipt of documents and payment, though fast-track services are available.
Visas and Nationality (PhD verification)
This service allows verification of an overseas PhD to qualify for tradeable points for the Skilled Worker route. To be able to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to someone who is relying on having a relevant PhD to gain 70 points for a Skilled Worker Visa, we need to supply the UK NARIC reference number on a CoS application so this must be provided before we can issue a CoS. Assessments will normally be completed with 30 working days of receipt of documents and payment.
Visas and Nationality (PhD verification with English proficiency)
This is a combination of the above 2 services. Assessments will normally be completed with 30 working days of receipt of documents and payment.
Our immigration reimbursement and interest-free loan schemes
We have now updated these to include Skilled Worker Visa costs. The loan scheme can also be used by existing employees to apply for money in advance of paying for a visa extension, then applying for reimbursement once the application is submitted and repaying the money to the University.
17 December 2020
This is our last update of 2020. Our shared inboxes won't be monitored over the 2 week break, but we will provide an alternative point of contact on our 'out of office' message for emergencies only.
Merry Christmas to all colleagues who celebrate, and our best wishes to everyone for a relaxing break. We look forward to seeing/speaking to you in 2021.
If you're in the UK
- Longer term extension to permission to stay
You can currently switch to a longer term visa (for example Skilled Worker Visa) in the UK rather than having to apply from overseas as you might need to do in normal times. You will need to meet the requirements of the route you are apply for (including, from 1 January 2021, the rules relating to the visa types you can switch from in the UK), and the terms of your permission in the UK will remain the same until you get a decision. You can also apply for a longer term visa if you have exceptional assurance.
You need to show your application is urgent, for example explaining in a covering letter with your application that you are starting a new job or course of study.
- Short term extension to permission to stay
Arrangements for requesting ‘exceptional assurance’ for those intending to leave the UK, but unable to do so, have been extended to apply to visas expiring up to 31 January 2021. You can apply using the process outlined by the Home Office.
If you have applied for exceptional assurance already, but have not yet had a decision, you do not need to apply again or chase the application. If you already have exceptional assurance, and it expires before 31 January, you can apply to extend it as above, stating clearly that you are making a subsequent application.
- Starting work if your Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”) was assigned on or after 1 January 2021
If you’re already in the UK and your CoS from us was assigned before 1 January 2021, you can start work as soon as you can give us evidence that you’ve submitted your visa application.
However, if your CoS is assigned on or after 1 January 2021 (when we email the CoS to you, we’ll tell you what date it was assigned), then you won’t be able to start work for us until you can show us evidence that your visa application has been granted.
- Christmas in the UK
Not sure what the rules are over Christmas? The Home Office is keeping their webpage up to date.
If you're outside the UK
- 30/90 day entry vignettes
If your 30 or 90 day entry vignette has expired, you can apply for a replacement by completing an online form. The cost is £154 and you will need to re-submit your biometric information.
Until 31 December 2020, replacement of a 30 day vignette is free. You can arrange a replacement by following the instructions on gov.uk (under “If your 30 day or 90 day visa vignette to work, study or join family has expired”).
- Priority and Super Priority Services
These services are now available in some locations. If they are available for your visa application, you will be able to purchase the services when you book your Visa Application Centre (“VAC”) appointment.
- Requirement to self-isolate on entry into the UK
This requirement has now been reduced from 14 days to 10 days.
The guidance also gives details of the new “Test to Release for International Travel” scheme – if you are only allowed to leave self-isolation for work-related activities in England, you can choose to take a coronavirus test under the Test to Release scheme. If you test negative you would be able to end your self-isolation.
- Visiting the UK from 1 January 2021
The Home Office has updated its guidance on what you will need to do before you come to the UK, and while you are here.
- Applying for your visa
If your VAC is closed due to coronavirus restrictions, you can apply online and select a VAC in another country (bear in mind you will need to be allowed to enter that country). This concession is now valid until 31 March 2021.
- English language requirement
If you are asked to take an English language test as part of your application, you can apply for an exemption if the test centre was closed or you could not travel to it due to coronavirus when you applied.
- Global Talent Visa applications
If your endorsement has expired and you have not been able to apply for a visa because of coronavirus restrictions, your endorsement will remain valid if:
1. it was granted on or after 24 January 2020, and
2. you apply for your visa before 1 January 2021
The Home Office will consider applications that do not meet these requirements on a case by case basis.
Impact of coronavirus – EU Settlement Scheme, Turkish workers/business people and
The Home Office has produced new webpages of advice:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): EU Settlement Scheme - guidance for applicants
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Turkish applicants for UK visas
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 - guidance for applicants
They cover such subjects as the effect on permitted absences from the UK, furlough and alternative evidence for applications.
- UK nationals – travelling to Europe with your pet from 1 January 2021
We now have confirmation that the UK will become a “Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme” from 1 January, and current EU pet passports will no longer be valid. Check the webpage to see what you’ll need to do before travelling with your ferret, cat or dog (including assistance dogs).
28 November 2020
- New immigration route for skilled workers
You may be aware that the current route for skilled workers to get permission to work in the UK, Tier 2 (General), will close to new applications on Monday 30 November and the new route, Skilled Worker, will open to applicants on 1 December. We'll be circulating some information to existing Tier 2 visa holders early next week on how it will affect you (in the short term, it won't).
The new route will also be open to applications from EEA and Swiss nationals who won't be resident in the UK before 31 December 2020, and who will therefore need a visa to work in the UK. EEA/Swiss nationals who live in the UK before 31 December 2020, and their family members, are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
- UKVI updates
UKVI has announced that the Immigration Health Surcharge portal will be closed between 11am and 2pm on Monday 30 November, meaning that visa applicants won't be able to complete an application during this time.
In further news, from 1 December there'll be a single customer contact centre number for all customer queries made within the UK and overseas - 0300 790 6268 (or 0044 300 790 6268 from overseas). You'll still have the option of 8 languages, and the core service hours and charges won't change.
- Entering the UK
The 14 day self-isolation requirement remains in place for those who are not exempt (exemptions are only for nationals of countries in a 'travel corridor' with the UK, and for certain occupations). However, under new rules from 15 December you may be able to pay for a COVID-19 test to find out if you can reduce your self-isolation period after international travel.
5 November 2020
- Support information
UKVI now has a page which details support you can get during the pandemic if you don't have permission to live permanently in the UK. This includes information on medical treatment, state benefits, help with housing costs and information for asylum seekers.
- 'Exceptional assurance' for those unable to leave the UK - visas expiring 1 November 2020 to 30 November 2020
If you intend to leave the UK but haven't been able to do so and your visa expires between 1 November and 30 November 2020, you can request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by completing an online form. You'll need to provide proof (UKVI will tell you what's suitable for this) and, if it's granted, your right to work/study/rent will continue.
If you've already completed the form, but haven't yet had a response, there's no need to chase - UKVI will be in touch with you and, until you hear from them, you won't be classed as an overstayer and there'll be no impact on any future UK immigration applications you make.
If you've already received 'exceptional assurance' but your circumstances have changed or you can't leave the UK by the date UKVI gave you, you must reapply, clearly stating that you're making a subsequent application.
- Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) which expire on 31 December 2024
If your permission to stay in the UK continues into 2025 but your BRP expires on 31 December 2024, that's not a mistake. New security measures for BRPs will be introduced in 2025 but these aren't available yet. UKVI has confirmed that you don't need to do anything at the moment, they'll provide information on how to update your BRP in early 2024.
If there are any mistakes on your BRP, you should report these within 10 days of receiving it.
- New immigration system from 1 January 2021
There are two major changes to the UK's immigration system from 1 January 2021:
1. a new immigration route, Skilled Worker, which will replace Tier 2 (General); and
2. the inclusion of EEA/Swiss nationals in the immigration system.
More information will be available soon but:
- If you're an EEA/Swiss national who's already resident in the UK, or will be resident by the end of 2020, this won't apply to you as you'll be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline to apply is 30 June 2021, though we'd suggest applying earlier rather than later. Important: all EEA/Swiss nationals need to apply, even if you've been here for many years and/or you already have a Permanent Residence card.
- If you're an EEA/Swiss national who'll be moving to the UK in 2021, we'll be in touch shortly to discuss your options. If you can move to the UK before the end of 2020, we'd strongly encourage this - the EU Settlement Scheme is straightforward and free to apply; a Skilled Worker visa has strict eligibility requirements and, with the requirement to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (currently £624 per person per year of the visa), it may cost you several thousand pounds.
- If you're currently in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa, you don't need to do anything at the moment. You'll remain on Tier 2 until your current BRP expires, when you'll need to apply for an extension under the Skilled Worker route, or switch into another immigration route.
- If you're moving to the UK and need a sponsored visa, your application would be reviewed under Tier 2 (General) rules if you submit it before 9am on 1 December 2020 and you'd be granted a Tier 2 visa; after that, Skilled Worker rules are applicable, and you'd be granted a Skilled Worker visa.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com.
7 October 2020
UKVI has developed some information pages on the steps involved in applying for a visa which may be useful for new applicants and those applying to switch/extend in the UK:
- Living in the UK: applying from overseas
- Living in the UK: applying from within the UK
The European Union has a useful document on what you need to know as a non-EU family member of an EU citizen in post-Brexit UK. Amongst other information, it covers what actions you'll need to take, and who's covered under the EU Settlement Scheme.
4 September 2020
- If your visa is expires between 1 September and 31 October 2020
If your visa expires between the above dates, and you weren't planning to stay in the UK but are struggling to leave, you can ask the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre for additional time in the UK (known as 'exceptional assurance'). If this is granted, it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave to remain has expired. If you've already completed the form, you don't have to do so again.
- Reuse of biometric information by UKVI
UKVI has produced guidance for its staff on when they can reuse your biometric details for an extension application or application to switch to another immigration route in the UK:
- biometrics must have been enrolled post July 2015 or the applicant must already hold a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
- the new grant of leave must not exceed a period beyond 5 years from when the fingerprints were last enrolled
- facial image must not be over 5 years old for persons aged over 16 and must not be over 2 years old for persons aged under 16
Further information is available on gov.uk.
- Information on working in the UK after 1 January 2021 for frontier workers
You're classed as a frontier worker if you're an EEA/Swiss national and you regularly commute to the UK because you're employed or self-employed here but live elsewhere. There are certain situations where you can keep your status while not working - these are explained on gov.uk.
The webpage also states that you'll need to apply for a frontier worker permit - we'll let you know as soon as there's any information on this new visa type.
- Applying for a visa if you're overseas and your Visa Application Centre is closed
Until at least 30 November 2020, you can attend a VAC anywhere in the world if there isn't one which is open in your home country, as long as you have the right to be in the other country. You’ll be able to make any type of application, but at the start of your application you must select the country where you'll submit your biometrics.
17 August 2020
- Travel corridors
The list of countries where self-isolation is not necessary if you're travelling from them has been updated again - France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba have been removed from the exempt list (ie if you're travelling to the UK from these destinations, you'll need to self-isolate on arrival).
- Visa Application Centres (VACs) overseas
If you need a VAC appointment, but the one(s) in your home country is/are closed, you may visit any other country worldwide (as long as you're able to enter that country legally) to submit your application and attend a VAC appointment. This concession will be in place until at least 30 November 2020.
- Travelling to China
From 11 August, certain European nationals holding a valid residence permit, work permit or permit for family reunion and personal matters, and who are currently overseas due to travel restrictions, can apply to re-enter China.
These countries are: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
11 August 2020 - UKVCAS biometric appointments
The UKVCAS website now states that appointments have been released for ‘customers’ whose applications were received up to 31 July 2020.
They also say that, if you receive an email from them asking you to book an appointment, this means UKVI has confirmed that you're not eligible for biometrics reuse and must book an appointment.
5 August 2020 - expired visas for those still in the UK
You'll probably already be aware that, if your visa expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 and you registered to extend your leave to remain through the COVID-19 scheme, you now have until 31 August to either leave the UK or switch into a new immigration category which will allow you to stay.
This is not an extension of your leave to remain and the Home Office confirmed that you should leave the UK as soon as you can, and by 31 August at the latest. During this ‘grace period’, until you're able to leave the UK, you can continue to live/work as per the conditions of your visa. If you have a short term visa which expires during August, you won't normally be granted an extension (but see below), you'll be expected to leave the UK before your visa expires.
You may be able to stay beyond 31 August in specific circumstances, for example if you're only able to arrange a flight after 31 August, or you've tested positive for COVID-19 (referred to as an "exceptional indemnity"). The latest guidance doesn't say whether inability to afford a flight counts as a legitimate reason for staying beyond 31 August.
To find out if you qualify for this exceptional indemnity and, if you do, what proof you'll need to give, you must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. If an indemnity is granted, it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave to remain has expired.
23 July 2020
- Expired/expiring entry vignettes
If you have an entry vignette in your passport but haven't been able to travel to the UK because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the vignette is expiring or expired, you can ask for a free replacement by either contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre or arranging to return your passport to your Visa Application Centre if it has re-opened. There's information on how to do this online (under "If your 30 day visa to work, study or join family has expired").
- New visa route: Hong Kong BN(O) visa
The Home Office has announced the introduction of a new visa route for British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, to move to the UK to work and study. Those born after 1 July 1997 who are not eligible for BN(O) status, may also apply if they have a a BN(O) registered parent. This new route will be available from January 2021.
A policy statement and guidance are also available.
- Health and care visa (HCV)
HCV is a new visa type which launches on 4 August 2020 and is part of the Tier 2 (General) visa route within the current Points-Based System. It's intended to be used by “qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who have been trained to a recognised standard and who have good working English”. Benefits include fast-track entry, reduced visa fees and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
HCV is available to a limited number of job types (Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes) and specific employers. Unfortunately, the University is not on the list of employers, nor are the SOC codes we most use for research and teaching professionals on that list.
See Part A of the Tier 2 Policy Guidance for more information.
8 July 2020
- Travel corridors
The UK government has issued details of instances when the 14 day quarantine period which came into effect on 8 June 2020 does not apply. This includes information on countries and territories with no self-isolation on return to England and the types of work carried out by people who are exempt.
- Phased reopening of more Visa Application Centres (VACs)
Quite a few VACs will begin a phased reopening over the next few weeks:
- 29 June: Singapore
- 6 July: Pakistan and Philippines, limited locations in India and Sri Lanka (Colombo)
- 10 July: Laos (Vientiane)
- 13 July: Algeria (Algiers, Oran), Cameroon (Yaoundé), Iraq (Baghdad, Basra, Erbil), Senegal (Dakar), Sierra Leone (Freetown), South Africa (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth)
- 17 July: Canada
China VACs are now open, though Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing are by prior appointment only.
- Re-closure of VACs
Due to local lockdown regulations, VACs are re-closed as follows:
- Melbourne (Australia): closed from 9 July 2020 until further notice
- Antananarivo (Madagascar): closed from 6 July 2020 until further notice
Please see the VFS Global and TLS Contact websites for detailed information on the status of VACs.
2 July 2020
- Expired/expiring Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)
If we've assigned a CoS to you but, because of COVID-19 disruption, you haven't been able to use it to apply for a visa and it has expired or will expire soon, the Home Office will still accept your visa application using the expired/expiring CoS.
- Biometric information
If UKVI has previously taken your fingerprints, and can use them for your existing visa application, they will do so. This means you may not have to attend a biometric appointment, just send them an electronic image of your face and documents supporting your application. UKVI will tell you if this is the case. If you're not able to send the information electronically, you can still book an appointment.
- Switching immigration route/SOC code in the UK if your visa expires after 31 July 2020
This is now possible, provided that you need to apply to start a new course of study, to start a job with a new employer or to start a job with the same employer, but in a different SOC code (eg moving from a research role to a teaching role).
22 June 2020: More overseas Visa Application Centres reopening
More overseas Visa Application Centres will be starting phased reopening next week:
- Bahrain (Manama)
- Kuwait (Kuwait City)
- Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar, Jeddah, Riyadh)
- United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai)
29 June: it's quite a long list (countries in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East)
16 June 2020
- UKVCAS Service and Support Centres (SSCs)
SSCs in the UK are offering a reduced number of appointments to existing applicants because of coronavirus. As more appointments are made available UKVI will invite you, via email or post, to arrange an appointment.
- Update on replacement vignettes (30 day visa) for those unable to travel to the UK
If your 30 day vignette has expired, you can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre to ask for a replacement (include your name, nationality, date of birth and GWF reference number, and "REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA" in the subject line).
Your local Visa Application Centre (VAC) will be in touch when it reopens to arrange for the vignette to be replaced - this replacement visa will be valid for 90 days.
- Collecting your BRP on arrival in the UK
In normal times, you should collect your BRP from a designated Post Office within 10 days of your arrival in the UK. However, the Home Office has confirmed that you won't be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place.
10 June 2020
- Visa Application Centres (VACs)
As noted previously, VACs began a phased reopening on 1 June, and further dates have been announced. This means that they'll deal with existing customers first, then begin taking new appointments. In addition to those listed below, VACs in Belarus and Ukraine have also reopened.
The following VACs will being reopening during week commencing 22 June 2020:
|Azerbaijan (Baku)||Gambia (Banjul)||South Korea (Seoul)|
|Belgium (Brussels)||Ghana (Accra)||Spain (Barcelona, Madrid)|
|Brunei (Bandar Seri Begawan)||Japan (Tokyo and Osaka)||Switzerland (Geneva)|
|Cambodia (Phnom Penh)||Jordan (Amman)||Thailand (Chiang Mai)|
|China (Changsha, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Kunming, Nanjing, Shenyang, and Shenzhen)||New Zealand (Auckland)||Tunisia (Tunis)|
|Egypt (Alexandria, Cairo)||Portugal (Lisbon)||Turkey (Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Izmir)|
|France (Paris)||Serbia (Belgrade)||Vietnam (Danang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City)|
Face coverings and social distancing are mandatory at all VACs.
- Self-isolating when travelling to the UK
The Home Office has produced guidance on self-isolation on arrival in the UK. The information includes:
- Self-isolate when you travel to the UK
- Who must self-isolate
- Why self-isolating is important
- How to travel to the place where you are self-isolating
- How to self-isolate in your accommodation
- Support to help you self-isolate in your own accommodation
- Within your accommodation
- Washing your hands and keeping good hygiene
- After self-isolating for 14 days
- What to do if you get coronavirus symptoms
- Travellers who are exempt from having to self-isolate on arrival in the UK
Guidance has been pulled together on those who are exempt from the border rules which came into force on 8 June. This includes anyone travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man who's been in that location for 14 days or more. It also applies to those on this list.
If you're entering the UK from one of those places but have been elsewhere during the previous 14 days, then the standard guidance on entering the UK applies to you. You'll need to complete this form before you travel.
- COVID-19 concessions on family visa requirements
Some concessions have been made as follows:
- Fiance/fiancee/civil partner visas may be extended to 31 July 2020 under the COVID extension scheme if the ceremony has been postponed due to COVID-19 (you'll need to complete this online form)
- Minimum income and adequate maintenance requirements have also been adjusted
- If you're unable to get certain documents due to COVID-19, the Home Office may make a decision without them, or allow you to submit them later.
- If you need an English language test and the centre's been closed, or you couldn't/can't travel to it because of COVID-19, you can apply for an exemption (though you may need to take it later).
27 May: Overseas Visa Application Centres (VACs) beginning to reopen
VFS Global and TLS Contact will begin phased opening of some of their VACs during week commencing 1 June 2020. For example:
- 1 June: China centres in Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou & Shanghai, along with Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur
- 4 June: centre in Berlin
You can check on particular locations on gov.uk.
27 May 2020: English language tests worldwide
Some English language test centres are reopening:
- IELTS test centres
- Pearson test centres
- Language Cert test centres
26 May 2020: Update on UKVCAS centres in the UK
Some UKVCAS centres (including Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester) will reopen on 1 June 2020, but only for those who made an appointment before the closures and had it rescheduled. If you have already made an appointment, the UKVCAS centre will contact you.
26 May 2020: Clarification on arrivals in the UK from 8 June 2020
The clarifications below have been made relating to new arrivals in the UK, and you can find more information on gov.uk.
- You won't need to complete contact/travel information, or self-isolate, if you're travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
- Contact and travel information should be completed online before travel - the online form will be available on the gov.uk page above (save/print a copy in case you're asked when you arrive)
- Do not travel if you have coronavirus symptoms
- If you develop symptoms while travelling, tell the crew on your transport so they can let staff at your destination know
- There are limited number of reasons for breaking the 14 day period of self-isolation - check the gov.uk page above for more information
22 May 2020: Public health measures for anyone arriving in the UK
The Home Office has announced new measures which will come into effect on 8th June 2020:
- Each arrival will be asked to complete contact and travel information so they can be contacted if someone they've been around develops COVID-19.
- Everyone will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.
22 May 2020: COVID visa extension scheme
The Home Office has announced that the COVID extension scheme will be extended to 31 July 2020 for all visa types.
This means that, if your visa expired or will expire between 24 January 2020 and 30 July 2020, and you either can't, or weren't intending to, extend your visa but you aren't able to leave the country yet, it will be extended to 31 July 2020.
There are two parts to this it seems:
- If your visa has already been extended by way of the COVID extension scheme (ie you contacted the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre to request a temporary extension to 31 May), then this latest extension to 31 July will be applied automatically without any further action.
- However, if you haven't applied via the COVID extension scheme, you'll need to do so online. This is important, as your visa will not be extended automatically.
18 May 2020: Changes to the Immigration Rules
- EU Settlement Scheme
With effect from 4 June 2020, eligibility for the scheme is widened to:
- allow family members whose relationship with an EEA citizen has broken down permanently as a result of domestic violence or abuse to have that, coupled with their own continuous residence in the UK, recognised as part of their application; and
- include family members of British or dual British-Irish citizens who are people of Northern Ireland.
- Start-up, Innovator and Global Talent
Student visa holders who are applying for one of the above, and were sponsored for their studies in the UK by a government or international scholarship agency in the 12 months before the date of application, must have the unconditional written consent of that sponsoring government or international scholarship agency to make the application. This is whether they submit their application from within or outside of the UK.
- Fiancé(e) visas
The rules relating to fiancé(e) visas have been updated to confirm that the purpose of the route is to allow couples to get married in the UK.
28 April 2020: Free replacement vignette (30 day visa) for those unable to travel to the UK
If you're overseas with a 30 day vignette in your passport which has expired, or is expiring, you can apply for a free replacement by contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre by email with the words "REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA" in the subject line. You'll need to include the following information in your email:
- your name
- your nationality
- your date of birth
- your GWF reference number
24 April 2020: Support for those living in the UK with time-limited leave to remain
The Home Office has just published a new COVID-19 guidance page which may be useful for anyone who is facing, or worried about, financial difficulties.
It includes details of support and information on getting medical treatment, employment, studying, housing costs and asylum. It confirms that, though you may not be able to claim public funds, you may be able to access Statutory Sick Pay, contributory Employment and Support Allowance, and salary support which can be provided to employers through the Job Retention Scheme. It also mentions the possibility of mortgage repayment holidays and increased protections around evictions.
17 April 2020: British Citizenship applications
Applying by post is taking much longer than applying online because of coronavirus (COVID-19), and it's taking longer than usual to process applications generally because of coronavirus. UK Visas and Immigration confirms that this will not affect the decision.
14 April 2020
- Starting work for us if you've submitted a visa application but you haven't yet received a decision
The Home Office has confirmed that, for the time being, you can start work for the University before your visa application has been decided if:
- you're already in the UK; and
- you've been assigned a CoS by the University of Leeds; and
- you submitted your visa application before your current visa expired and can show us evidence of this; and
- the job you start is the same as the one listed on the CoS we've assigned to you.
Important to note:
- We've developed internal processes on recruitment, so you should check with your Human Resources hub whether you can start work.
- If they say you can, please send them:
- proof that you've submitted a Tier 2 or Tier 5 application to work for us, preferably a copy of your application and proof that you've submitted it, and
- a copy of your passport (personal details page), and
- a copy of your existing BRP (front and back).
- The Staff Immigration team will contact you to arrange a short video call to confirm that the documents are consistent with your appearance.
- If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused, we'll have to stop sponsoring you and terminate your employment/engagement.
- Proving your right to work (RTW) *update*
If you haven't yet given us your RTW documents because you're a new starter at the University, or you've switched to a new immigration route, please:
- either send a scanned copy or photo of your document(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org *making sure you password protect the file(s) using your surname (lower case with no punctuation, eg hyphens) and your date of birth as a 6 digit number (ddmmyy).
- or if you have a biometric residence permit/card you can log into your online portal and email your 'share code' to email@example.com.
6 April 2020:
- What to do if your visa's expiring and you weren't planning to stay in the UK long term
The Home Office now has a form which you should complete rather than emailing the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT).
- If you are applying for a Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visa
If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you haven't been able to travel to the UK, you may still be eligible for a visa so you should make your application as planned. The Home Office will consider all applications on a case by case basis.
- If you're a doctor, nurse or paramedic working for the NHS
If your visa expires before 1 October 2020, it will automatically be extended by 12 months. If you have family members in the UK on dependant visas, they will also be extended. You won't need to apply for this, or pay for it, and you won't have to pay a health surcharge.
- Visa fees
The Home Office has confirmed that this April will see no increase in the cost of applying for any type of visa, either from overseas or within the UK.
3 April 2020: Updated COVID-19 immigration guidance from the Home Office
The Home Office has provided some clarification as follows:
- they may still accept an expired Certificate of Sponsorship if the application is submitted late because of COVID-19 but this will be considered on a case-by-case basis;
- visa extensions for NHS visa holders: the Home Office will contact NHS employers to identify staff eligible for this extension and will tell the visa holder and employer when someone receives one of these automatic extensions;
- there is no longer a limit on the number of hours working or volunteering ‘if you work for the NHS as a doctor, nurse or paramedic’ and are on a Tier 2 or Tier 4 visa.
30 March 2020: Proving your right to work (RTW)
The Home Office has confirmed that we still need to take evidence of RTW in the UK even though we're all working remotely.
If you haven't yet given us your RTW documents because you're a new starter at the University, you've recently extended your leave to remain or you've switched to a new immigration route, please:
- either send a scanned copy or photo of your document(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org
- or if you have a biometric residence permit/card you can log into your online portal and email your 'share code' to email@example.com
The Staff Immigration team will contact you to arrange a short video call so we can confirm that the copy you sent matches the original document, and that both are yours. Once we're all back on campus, we may ask you to show us your original documents.
If your leave to remain is expiring in the next couple of months, or has already expired, and you've applied for an extension or switch, we may need to check you still have the right to work in the UK by contacting the Home Office Employer Checking Service. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us have:
- your permission
- a copy of your passport (a photo is fine) as we don't have access to all of our files
- proof of your application, for example confirmation of payment
- the month and year you arrived in the UK
We'll normally receive a positive response from the Employer Checking Service if you've submitted your visa extension/switch application but haven't yet received a decision, and this is valid for 6 months.
28 March 2020: UKVCAS centre closures
Sopra Steria, who run the centres in the UK which take biometric details for visa extensions and switches, announced that they have temporarily closed all of the UKVCAS centres in the UK.
They have advice for those who'd already made appointments, and new applicants, on their website.
25 March 2020: COVID-19 and visa expiries for those in the UK
If you're in the UK on a visa which expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020 and you can't/don't plan to extend your leave to remain, you can ask UKVI to give you a temporary extension until 31 May 2020. You must be unable to return to your home country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
You'll need to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to ask them to update your record - see gov.uk for the details you'll need to give, and further information.
If you're in the UK and planning to extend your existing leave to remain anyway, or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you can do so.
You may also be able to switch from a temporary visa to a longer term visa (for example a Visitor visa to a Dependant visa) without having to leave the UK to apply. You'll need to make sure you meet the conditions for the new visa type though - check gov.uk for details.
You can download a useful summary at the bottom of this page. Please contact Staff Immigration if you have any questions.
25 March 2020: COVID-19 update for those resident overseas
Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed in certain countries. To find out which, please visit:
- TLS contact for countries in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
- VFS global for all other countries
If you paid for courier service when you applied for your visa, your passport will be returned to you where a courier service is available. If you didn't, you should contact TLS or VFS directly to arrange return of your passport.
English Testing Centres are also affected. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) website or contact your test centre for more information.
Visit gov.uk for full details. You can download a useful summary at the bottom of this page.
20 March 2020: HR service update
Along with the rest of the University, the HR service (including immigration and global mobility) will be delivering only essential services and activities on the University campus from 6pm on 20th March 2020; everything else will be delivered remotely from this time.
If you're a member of staff who wants information relating to immigration, please email us at email@example.com. If you've got a query about working overseas, please email InternationalHR@leeds.ac.uk.
If you need general HR information, you can contact your named HR Manager or Officer by email. Alternatively, if you don't get a response by the end of the following working day, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0113 343 4146.
Remember, you can sign up for updates to this page by emailing Staff Immigration.
20 March 2020: access to NHS for treatment of COVID-19
There can be no charge made to an overseas visitor for the diagnosis or treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19).
All overseas visitors, including anyone living in the UK without permission, should be aware that:
- No charges apply to testing for COVID-19, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for COVID-19 if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed. The same is true of most other infectious diseases.
- NHS trusts have been advised that no immigration checks are required for overseas visitors that are known to be only undergoing testing or treatment for COVID-19.
19 March 2020: Keep up to date with COVID-19 developments and information
Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england
Travel guidance for the education sector: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/covid-19-travel-guidance-for-the-education-sector
General guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance
Information for those with expired/expiriing visas who are in the UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-the-uk (note this hasn't been updated since 27 Feb and refers only to Chinese nationals - we'll repost when there's an update)
18 March 2020: Biometric appointments in the UK - Coronavirus
The Sopra Steria website (where you book appointments to give your biometric information in the UK, has the following statement:
- If you have Coronavirus symptoms and should be self-isolating, or if you have Coronavirus, you must not attend for your appointment. Please email email@example.com with ‘COVID-19’ and your UAN in the subject to say that you cannot attend. We will refund your fee and will tell the Home Office.
- If after your visit to us, you develop symptoms, or have Coronavirus, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘COVID-19’ and your UAN in the subject and details of your appointment.
31 January 2020
Indefinite Leave to Remain BRP expiry dates
ILR BRP cards issued in 2020 will only be valid until 31 December 2024 because the current batch of BRPs don't have the next generation of encryption technology. Until this is sorted, the Home Office plans to issue a second permit to affected applicants around six months before 31 December 2024.
This article from Smith Stone Walters gives more detail and recommends that those affected add a diary note for mid-2024 to check they recieve a new card.
Fee increase for UK biometric appointments
Sopra Steria, who manage biometric appointments in the UK for the Home Office, increased their prices in January. There was no advance warning, or even an announcement since the increase. Increases are:
- from £60 to £69.99 for a standard appointment
- from £125 to £135 for appointments on Saturdays or out of regular office hours
In addition, the old £19.20 fee for biometric appointments at the Post Office (which are no longer available) is also still being charged for production of a BRP.
If you're on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa and you travel abroad to work
As part of the University's sponsor duties, we need to tell UK Visas and Immigration if you go to work overseas, whether that's at another institution, or at home. If you're doing this, please let us know when you leave the UK, and when you return again.
Reminder: immigration reimbursement and interest-free loan schemes
Just as a reminder, our reimbursement scheme includes the cost of standard applications online or by post for Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas, and Indefinite Leave to Remain (employees only).
In addition, employees can apply for an interest free loan to cover the following costs when they're associated with an application for Tier 1, Tier 2, ILR or British Citizenship:
- UKVI fees for Tier 1 and Tier 2 dependants
- UKVI fees for employee's own dependant/spouse visa
- UKVI fees for British citizenship applications for employee and dependant(s)
- UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) costs for employee and dependant(s) including travel, the cost of an appointment and any additional chargeable services provided
- National Health Service (NHS) healthcare surcharge for employee and dependant(s)
- UK legal fees for advice on immigration
- UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) service fees.
Calculating absence from the UK for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications (Tier 2 route)
How to calculate:
If your 5 year qualifying period includes leave to remain granted before 11 January 2018, then all absences during that leave to remain should be calculated as "No more than 180 days in any 12 calendar month period ending on 30 June each year".
If your 5 year qualifying period includes leave to remain granted on or after 11 January 2018, then all absences during that leave to remain should be calculated as "No more than 180 days in any rolling 12 month period".
- Amadi came to the UK on a Tier 2 visa which started on 1 March 2016 and was valid for 3 years.
- In March 2019, she extended her leave to remain for 2 years, until March 2021.
- In this case, Amadi would be eligible to apply for ILR from March 2021.
- Any absences during the first 3 years should be calculated by 12 calendar months, and any absences during the visa extension period should be calculated by rolling 12 month period.
Days absent from the UK are whole days, and therefore don't include travel days (eg if you left the UK on a Monday and returned on a Friday, absence would be 3 days), and you're allowed 180 days absence a year.
If the SOC code for your role is either 2119 or 2311, you may be able to exclude some absences from the 180 day limit. When you apply, you'll need a letter from University confirming that:
- research was the purpose of the absence(s); and
- the University agreed to the absence(s) for that purpose; and
- the absence(s) directly related to your Tier 2 employment in the UK.
Unfortunately, absences which aren't for research can't be included, eg attending conferences/meetings, training, teaching.
Useful information when applying for a Visitor visa
Carter Thomas Solicitors have produced a couple of useful articles:
On proving intention to leave the UK at the end of a visit
On mitigating other reasons for refusal
**updated 29 January 2020** 24 June 2019 - Use of ePassport gates
Since 20 May 2019, people from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA have been able to enter the UK using ePassport gates.
However, there are some exceptions; if you're a national of one of the above countries you still need to see a Border Officer and get a stamp in your passport if you're entering the UK:
- on a Permitted Paid Engagement visa
- on a Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) visa
- on a National Identity Card
- on a passport which doesn't have a biometric chip
- with children under 12
- on a Short Term Study visa to to study for up to 6 months (if you'll be in the UK for 11 months for an English language course, you'll need to apply for a visa in advance)
- On a visitor visa of longer than 6 months
If you're in the UK on a visitor visa for 6 months or less and you're a national of one of the above countries, you can use the e-gates but we'll still need to see proof of travel, such as your itinerary or boarding card.
The Home Office has produced a leaflet which you can download below and which may help if you're not sure.