The Home Office has eased visa restrictions for overstayers, migrant entrepreneurs, healthcare workers, international students, Tier 2/Tier 5 Visa holders and British nationals overseas.
The penalty that is usually received by visa overstayers has been scrapped, and overseas NHS workers can now work at any medical facility in the country and for as many hours as they please.
This is the first time that visa rules have been relaxed since March, when the Home Office loosened restrictions on overstayers, overseas healthcare staff, entrepreneurs and international students. Yet despite the concessions made in this recent announcement, British nationals overseas are still unable to submit a passport application if their local office is closed.
The Home Office has stated:
“There will be no future adverse immigration consequences for people whose visa or leave to remain expired between 24 January and 31 August 2020, and who did not apply to regularise their stay (legally extend it).”
While the Home Office has said that there will be no fines issued in circumstances where the holder of the expired visa applies for a new UK Visa at a later date, persons who do not extend their stay prior to the expiration date ‘must make arrangements to leave the UK.’
Persons due to leave in November but unable to do so due to COVID-19 flight restrictions or testing positive for the virus are able to request additional time in the UK.
In addition, persons whose visa expires after 31 October are able to renew their visa or apply for a different visa from within the UK, rather than returning to their country of origin to do so as they would under ‘normal circumstances’.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
With the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic having a notably intense impact on business and the economy, holders of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (now the Innovator Visa) have also been placed under less stringent rules.
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa- which required holders to invest at least £200,000 in a UK-based enterprise- was replaced by the Tier 1 Innovator Visa in 2019. But as the Entrepreneur Visa had a validity period of three years, a number of international entrepreneurs are still in the UK on this visa.
In terms of eased restrictions, holders of the visa are no longer required to hire at least two people for 12 consecutive months. The 12 months can now be made up of multiple jobs and does not have to be comprised of 12 consecutive months.
Additionally, if the visa holder’s employees were furloughed due to the pandemic, this does not count towards the 12 months. Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders who have been unable to hire employees for 12 months within their validity period are now able to extend their visa, thus giving them additional time to meet the requirement.
Overseas NHS employees are now permitted to work at any medical facility during the COVID-19 pandemic and work in any healthcare role at any skill level. Further to this, the restrictions that are in place on the number of hours they can work or volunteer have been lifted completely.
International students are now permitted to begin their studies in the UK prior to the issuing of their Student Visa. This is provided that they have received their Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) from their recognised Tier 4 sponsor, or have made an application to renew their existing visa prior to its expiration.
Tier 2/Tier 5 Visa holders
Persons who have applied for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 Visa in order to move to the UK for work reasons are now permitted to begin their employment prior to the issuing of their visa. In situations where their visa application is refused, they will still be required to leave the UK.
British nationals overseas
The Home Office has also announced that British nationals based overseas who are looking to apply for a passport can now submit an application online.
However, if the applicant is required to book an appointment at a visa application centre and the centre is closed, they will be ‘unable to book an appointment until the centre reopens’.
How we can help
If your immigration status has been affected by these changes, contact our client care team today on 0333 305 9375 for help and guidance.
We are deeply experienced in all areas of immigration law, from Spouse Visa application support to British Citizenship by Marriage advice, and would be delighted to assist with your query. No matter where you are, we can help. We are based in London as well as other cities across the UK and also offer remote appointments.
International students are now permitted to begin their studies in the UK prior to the granting of their visa. [Image: Unsplash]
The Home Office has loosened restrictions on Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s destructive impact on business. [Image: Relocate Magazine]
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