Even though most visa applications are currently stopped and visa applications centres around the world have closed due to the coronavirus lockdown regulations, immigration solicitors still encourage those who wish to come to the UK or remain in the UK to get started with their immigration application now.
Your immigration solicitor can help you to get all your documents ready so once visa applications reopen your application can be submitted immediately.
It is expected that after the lockdown finishes many will apply for their visas, their visa extensions, indefinite leave to remain and even citizenship soon after. Whilst the lockdown is ongoing all those applications are on pause and a surge in applications will likely lead to significant delays.
The longer the lockdown continues, the bigger the delays are likely to be. To get ahead of the queue, you must ensure your visa application is ready to go.
During these troubling times many have been granted with automatic visa extensions, as they are unable to travel home due to the limited air travel and other restrictions in place to curb the spread of corona virus. Some will undoubtedly have planned to apply for a visa extension regardless of the outbreak and must now do so immediately after the lockdown is over in order to avoid overstaying illegally.
This could for example be the case to those who are on a UK spouse visa and you have been granted 33 months stay in the UK. When you are close to that 33 months you must apply for the extension of another 30 months, before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.
Students and workers in the UK
In order to keep your student or work visa you need to meet the continuing requirements of your visa, however, due to lockdown restrictions this isn’t always possible. For that reason, the government has relaxed these regulations allowing students and workers to remain in the UK during lockdown and continue with their studies and work afterwards without being penalised.
In normal times, a sponsor of a UK student visa holder must withdraw sponsorship if a student does not attend their studies for a period of over 60 days. As schools and universities are closed and students cannot all continue with their studies as they would have, sponsors now do not have to take this action.
If a person is in the UK on a UK work visa, the sponsor may have to withdraw sponsorship if their employee is on unpaid sick leave for a period of over 4 weeks, however general exceptions do apply. Due to coronavirus this rule is now also relaxed, and workers can remain in the UK, even though they may not be able to work for a period longer than 4 weeks.
All policy changes such as the above are temporary and are continuously reviewed throughout the pandemic. Sponsors and visa holders must keep themselves informed with the current regulations and act accordingly to avoid breaking the rules and being penalised.