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The Home Office is continuing to issue further guidance on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on immigration requirements.
Key recent developments include:
Whilst these are welcome steps, the guidance is thin on detail. For example, it is not clear how English language requirements can be met for fresh applications, given that English language test centres are closed. Furthermore, the legal basis for an automatic extension of leave is not clear. There is also a possibility that the Home Office may not accept the reasons asserted in support of why a person is unable to leave the UK. This may mean that the person would be regarded as an over-stayer (or not covered by any relevant concession) – with significant implications for their future immigration status - from the point that their leave expires.
Finally, it is not clear whether Tier 2 visa conditions will be flexed to enable sponsored employees to benefit from furlough arrangements under the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme. The usual salary requirements for sponsorship will need to be met unless a concession is made. Employers will also need to comply with sponsor duties in relation to their sponsored workers during a period of furlough.
Visa holders and businesses with sponsored workers will want to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to minimise the risk of future compliance issues arising.
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