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Coronavirus Updates: Rights of Immigrants in the UK

22 Apr 2020 - Category:
Coronavirus

COVID 19 has caused fatalities across the globe and has disrupted economies worldwide, but the worst hit are the immigrants, who are currently away from their families. In the present chaotic situation, many are unaware of coronavirus tests and how much it costs. We have it all covered up for you because we understand how complicated this situation can get with the strict immigration rules in the UK.

Things only get worse if your visa is about to expire, which makes things even more uncertain and complex for you. While governments across the globe continue to extend support to their citizens, you may wonder about your rights as an immigrant. The UK government has given serious consideration to this and has rolled out some favorable policies for immigrants. So, if you are an immigrant currently in the UK and are wondering about your rights to coronavirus tests and treatment, then we have the answers you need.  

Can You Test for Coronavirus in the UK?

The Government of the UK has taken a very liberal approach with regards to coronavirus testing and treatment. The Authorities have clearly stated that everyone qualifies for free coronavirus testing and treatment. This includes non-citizens and also illegal immigrants in the UK, which is indeed a very generous approach. So, regardless of your immigration status, you can get yourself tested for freethrough NHS.

The Authorities have also clarified that whether you test positive or negative, no charges would apply for coronavirus testing. In fact, to make things easier the NHS also has a network of translators who can help the doctors communicate better with those suffering from coronavirus. Also, there would be no immigration checks performed on overseas visitors who visit the NHS for coronavirus testing and treatment.

 Visa Extension during Coronavirus

If you are currently in the UK on a visa which is due to expire between 24 th January and 31 st May 2020, then you can heave a sigh of relief. The Home office has confirmed that all such visas would be extended until the 31 st Day of May 2020. However, you would have to intimate the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) about your current status. You can do so by sending an email with your full name, date of birth, nationality, visa reference number, and reason for seeking an extension of stay, which could be something like ‘closed border’. The email must be composed in English and must be sent to CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk, and you shall receive a response within five working days. Alternatively, you can make a free call to the CIT helpline on 0800 678 1767 and seek further clarification.

Salary Reduction during Coronavirus

The UK Government protects the rights of immigrants in the UK, by setting a ceiling for pay reduction. So, employers can only reduce salaries up to eighty percent of the current salary or up to £2,500 per month. Moreover, the Government has stated that this can only be done as a generalized measure, which means a similar pay cut is made for citizens working at the same level or department.

Also, this pay reduction would have to be a temporary measure, and in due course, companies must start paying their employees what they used to, before the coronavirus outbreak. However, companies must consider intimating the Home Office about the pay reduction and must declare that to be company-wide policy. Also, when the pay is normalized, the company must intimate the same to the Home Office. All communication can be made through the Sponsor Management System

What about your UK Citizenship Applicants?

If you had booked an appointment with the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Center during the coronavirus outbreak, then there is no need to panic. Your application status remains intact, but you may have to reschedule the date of your appointment or claim a refund. So, you need not frantically look up for coronavirus updates to know about your application status. If you cannot attend it due to the coronavirus lockdown, then that would have no impact on your immigration status.

Coronavirus Updates regarding Student Visas

The Immigration Authorities have temporarily relaxed several restrictions on student visas, which includes permitting distance learning and suspending police registrations. Also, the 20-hour work restriction has been waived off for medical professionals. Furthermore, the UK Immigration Authorities have also reassured sponsors that they would not take any action against sponsors who allow foreign students to be absent or study remotely. In fact, educational institutions need not report COVID -19 absences to the immigration authorities. This measure is in par with the social distancing rules, which apply to both citizens and non-citizens in the UK.

In-process Visas

Students awaiting their visas to be processed need not wait any longer if they have been given a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You can very well start your studies, provided certain other conditions are fulfilled. However, you would have to suspend your studies midway if your pending application is rejected in the future. Likewise, employees who have been granted a Certificate of Sponsorship may commence work subject to certain conditions but would have to discontinue if their application is refused.

As you can see, the UK Government has made coronavirus testing available for everyone — citizens, immigrants, and even illegal immigrants. All you need to do is get in touch with the NHS and they will guide you through the process. Also, the immigration authorities have relaxed several rules, which are very much in favor of immigrants. However, a lot of financial support available to the citizens may not be available to immigrants. So, if you wish to borrow some funds from your friends or relatives residing in your home country, then consider doing it through Small World. We offer real-time exchange rates and very low transaction fees to enable people to help one another through international money transfers. As we offer secure online transfers, you can send and receive money while adhering to the social distancing norms.

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