The most recent Government advice to stop the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) virus is:
- Everyone must stay at home with a few exceptions such as key workers. Who is a key worker? Key workers are people whose jobs are vital to public health and safety during the coronavirus lockdown. NHS staff, Food delivery would be considered key workers
- You can only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work
- We all must stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
- We all must wash your hands as soon as you get home
In light of this, many businesses have had to compulsorily close down until further notice from the UK government .
For full guidance on the UK’s lock down, please go to : https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others
For a full list of all the business that are allowed to be operational during the lockdown (mainly food businesses), click this link: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/24/key-workers-list-essential-coronavirus-uk/
What can an employer do in these circumstances?
The UK government addresses the nation quite often. It is a good idea therefore to listen to the latest address. You can click this link: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-52012432 to remain current. Therefore it is useful to follow the news, follow government instructions and remain updated with changes as they come. A very reliable website to follow would be: www.gov.uk.
Employers can also contact www.HMRC.gov.uk for employer’s advice as there have been many concessions introduced to help employees, self employed and employers.
What the Home Office is doing about it:
Home Office is still operational and are still accepting applications.
Biometrics services are still running but with limited service, so please contact them before you attend your scheduled appointment. Note: some biometrics services do close without prior notice.
Customers affected by closures do not need to take any action. Sopra Steria will automatically rebook their appointments at the same locations in 6 weeks time.
Customers are not to worry if their appointment has had to be rescheduled.
Sopra Steria states that they are making the Home Office aware of all affected customers for records to be updated. No customers will be adversely impacted as a result of covid 19.
In addition, Sopra Steria, (Biometrics Appointment Agents for the Home Office) have stated that:
‘If you have Coronavirus symptoms and should be self-isolating, or if you have Coronavirus, you must not attend your appointment. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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.’
Government advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents:
- If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.
- Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk
- Coronavirus Immigration Helpline: 0800 678 1767
- If you’re applying to stay in the UK long-term, you’ll be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country; you will be required to be switching from/to an eligible route.
- You will not be regarded as an overstayer if you are not able to attend a biometric appointment due to COVID-19
- If you are an existing Tier 4 student in the UK or if you have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue your studies, you can undertake distance learning courses.
- If you are a new international student who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but you have been unable to travel to the UK, you are permitted to undertake distance learning and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.
- If you are one of the many Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsored workers working from home rather your normal workplace due to Coronavirus pandemic, your Sponsor is not required to notify the Home Office of such change of circumstances
- If you’re outside the UK, Many UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed or offering limited services. For advice on visa services in your country, contact:
- TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
- VFS global for all other countries
- British nationals abroad who need to apply for a passport, If your country ‘s VAC is closed, you won’t be able to apply for a British passport. If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you can apply for an emergency travel document.
The guidelines are updated regularly, to read the guidelines,
click here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents