The Impact of Coronavirus
This year has certainly been a tough one! Here at Bankfield Heath we had to adapt very quickly from office working one day to remote working the next. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has also led to numerous changes in Home Office policy. As the situation with the pandemic changes, so it seems does the Home Office coronavirus policies – at the time of writing this blog there has been over 40 updates to the policies since the first lockdown in March. In this blog we would like to set out just some of the key changes that have affected our clients.
English Language Test
Those who need to pass an approved English Language Test for their visa application but are unable to take a test due to coronavirus may still be able to make their application and ask for an exemption. However, just because some approved test providers are closed in their country does not automatically mean that they will be exempted. The list of approved providers has recently been updated and though some providers are closed, some do remain open. It is important to check.
Those who entered the UK as visitors but who have been unable to return home because of coronavirus have been able to apply for ‘exceptional assurance’ that allows them to stay in the UK and not be considered as overstayers. It is important to note that this is not a free-for-all and the Home Office would expect to see evidence to show that they genuinely could not leave the UK. If someone is in any doubt, they should seek advice.
Those in the UK who would normally have had to return to their country to make an application for a settlement visa (spouse visa for example), may have been able to apply to regularise their stay without first having to leave the UK. They would still need to meet all the requirements for the visa being applied for.
We all hope that the vaccines recently announced will be the beginning of the end for this pandemic. As and when things do start returning to some form of normality, it is to be anticipated that the Home Office will remove some of the policies and concessions that have been in place this year.
If you have any questions relating to the coronavirus pandemic and how the changes will affect your immigration status, please do not hesitate to contact us.